Bike Laws

Traffic Laws – In All 50 States

From the League of American Bicyclists


In all 50 states, people on bikes are required to follow the same laws as other drivers.

Here are a few key principles that underpin all US traffic laws:

First Come, First Served
Everyone on the road is entitled to the lane width they need. This includes the space behind, to each side and the space in front. If you want to use someone else’s space you must yield to whoever is using it.

Ride on the Right
In the United States, everyone must drive on the right-hand side of the roadway.

Yielding to Crossing Traffic
When you come to an intersection, if you don’t have the right of way, you must yield.

Yielding when Changing Lanes
If you want to change lanes, you must yield to traffic that is in your new lane of travel.

Speed Positioning
The slowest vehicles on the road should be the furthest to the right. Where you position yourself on the road depends on the location of any parked cars, your speed, and your destination. Always pass on the left.

Lane Positioning
Bikes can share the same lane with other drivers. If a lane is wide enough to share with another vehicle (about 14 feet), ride three feet to the right of traffic. If the lane is not wide enough to share, “take the lane” by riding in the middle.

Intersection positioning
When there is a lane that is used for more than one direction, use the rightmost lane going in the direction you are traveling.

Follow all street signs, signals, and markings


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How To Ensure A Legal And Safe Night Ride

Are you intimately familiar with the road laws as they apply to bicycles being ridden at night? Perhaps you assumed as long as you took the basic precautions to make sure you can be seen that would be enough? You might be surprised to discover there are some actual laws that say what you must do when riding in the dark.

It’s pretty obvious that the number one thing that will ensure a safe night ride every time you go out is to make sure that you are visible to all motorists. If every car, truck and cyclist can see you, there’s a lot less chance of you being involved in an accident. Most people wear high visibility clothing and attach some kind of light to their bicycle but here’s the list of all of the equipment you must use by law when riding at night:

  • Any lamp attached to your bicycle must be a white light. It must illuminate the area in front of your bicycle and be visible from the front and the sides for 300 feet. So you need a fairly decent white light.
  • You must have a red reflector fitted to the back of your bicycle which can be seen from a distance of 500 feet should a motor vehicle use their upper beam.
  • You need to have a lot of reflectors! Any pedal, shoe or ankle that can be seen from the front and the rear of the bike needs to have either a white or yellow reflector attached. These reflectors need to be visible for 200 feet.
  • You can decide whether you put side reflectors on your wheels/tires or on another part of the bicycle. If you don’t have them fitted to the wheels you must have them fitted in two places. Work out where the center of the bicycle is – then attach reflectors to the front and the rear of the center. The reflectors must be yellow or white towards the front and white or red towards the rear. Remember if you have side reflectors fitted to your wheels you’re not required to add any extra front and fear reflectors.
  • If you choose you can attach the white lamp mentioned at the start to your actual person instead of having it fitted to your bicycle. If you choose this option, the light must still be a white light and must still be visible from the front and the side from a distance of 300 feet.

As you can see the list above is fairly long but there’s nothing really complicated to be done. Get a decent white light and attach the right colour reflectors where they need to be and you’ll easily stay within the law. And of course, remember to keep your wits about you when you are riding at night. Even with reflectors and lights you need to make sure other road users can see you coming and are taking the required action to avoid a collision with you.
Remember we are here should you need assistance in the event of a bicycle accident. Grab our bicycle assistance app here and you’ll always have it on hand should you need it.

Beginners Guide To Cycling Safety

When you first learn to ride a bicycle you may be wary of riding on the street with the normal traffic.  Your first attempts at riding with traffic can be scary and heart stopping.  If you plan to continue riding in traffic you’ll need to know how to safely negotiate the road rules and the traffic that is zooming past your ears!

Whether you ride for fitness, to commute to work, or if you are just riding for pleasure and exploring your local area there are some simple steps you can take to make sure you don’t become the next bicycle casualty in your neighborhood.

Bike Lane

So what should you remember when you’re a beginner cyclist?

1.  You need to obey all the road rules.

Not just the easy rules but also the more complicated ones.  Stop at red lights just like all the other traffic.  Don’t go whizzing through an intersection and expect cars to avoid you.  Make sure you always give way where required and make sure you understand who gives way at traffic lights and crossways when turning.  You need to be in the right at all times.

2.  Wear brightly colored clothing when you cycle.

Everything you can do to help vehicle drivers see you will be appreciated and will help you to stay safe.

3.  Riding during daylight hours is a lot safer than riding in the dark.

If you must ride after the sun goes down, make sure you are clearly marked with high visibility clothing and reflectors on the front and back of your bicycle.  You need to make sure you can be seen.

4.  Always wear a helmet when you ride.

You might think it’s OK to not worry about wearing a helmet for short trips.  Don’t be tempted to ignore this safety rule.  Helmets are proven to save lives.

5.  Be a consistent cyclist and make sure drivers can easily predict where you plan to ride.

Signal your intentions.  Ride towards the middle of your lane and don’t get yourself jammed between parked cars and moving traffic.

6.  Always keep a look out for doors opening on parked cars.

This is an awful way to come off your bike and can result in really serious injuries.  Try not to ride too close to cars parked along the side of the street.  When the door opens very often a driver either cannot see you or has not looked for cyclists before exiting their vehicle.  Your best bet is always to avoid them first.

7.  Never ever ride while listening to music through headphones.

This can be a hard one to resist, especially if you have a long way to travel on your bicycle.  Many accidents are caused because cyclists don’t hear vehicles approaching.  The same rules apply to using mobile phones while you ride.  It’s a bad idea.  Pull over if you need to make or receive a call while riding.

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when you take up cycling.  Remember all of the above tips and you have a far greater chance of arriving at your destination safely.

Do you have the Bicycle Accident Assistant app on your smartphone yet?  Install it now just in case of a cycling related accident.  Be sure to Like Bicycle Attorney on Facebook for more safety tips and cycling related posts.

Real World Cycling Safety

When it comes to bike safety, everyone knows the drill, get a bell, get a helmet etc. But most of the specifics about what to do and what not do when it comes to bike safety is a bit odd, the reason I say this is because most of the safety tips are for being safe when you get hit. What we should in fact be doing, is preventing getting hit in the first place. And if it does happen, we know that we have done the most we can to stay safe and then hand the case over to a personal injury attorney.

It’s better to know you are right and didn’t do anything wrong in the first place, and Los Angeles is like any other city for cycling accidents. Drivers hardly take notice of other cars let alone cyclists. A recent advertising study showed billboard ads had dropped in visual impact by 35% over the last few years. A modern car just has too many distractions, radio, TV, mobile phone, DVD player. So what can YOU do to be sure YOU did everything you could to stay safe before a cycling accident.

Real World Cycling Safety

  1. The Side Swipe-40% of cycling accidents involve being hit from the side. The reason is simple. Cyclist always “ride the curb” thinking it prevents being hit from behind. Chances are the guy behind knows where you are, since you are in his lane. It’s the guy crossing the junction who cant see you for the trees that is most likely to hit you. Ride a more central line in the road, use a headlight, wave if you have to. But as soon as you get to a junction make sure people crossing it can see you.
  2.  The Door Shunt-Riding alongside parked cars in Los Angeles you can be sure that at least one person will open the door without looking. If you hit, not only do you hit a glass topped car door, you might hit the occupant too as he/she steps out. Again don’t ride the curb, stay out and bet that the guy overtaking will give you a wide berth, at least he can see you, the guy stepping out of his car cannot.
  3.  Cross walk Chaos-If for some reason you find yourself crossing a cross walk on your bicycle, you can be sure that a driver turning right will at some point nearly kill you. The reason is simple, they are looking for people, not bikes. Not only that but bike speed is hard to judge, you might be clearing that cross walk slower than he expected. My advice is stick to the roads and avoid this bike accident.
  4. Wrong Way-We all did it once, the street is dead, your going down a left turn, you cross into the oncoming lane and cut the corner. Unfortunately with the amount of near silent electric cars on the road you could be lining up for a Prius sandwich. However quiet the road is, stay in you lane and go the long way.
  5.  Wrong Side Of A Red Light-This goes back to riding the curb. Chances are if you do you will not be able to cross into the middle when you get to a red light. So you are now trapped between the curb and the line of cars. Problem is when that first guy forgets to indicate and turns right, you’re crushed. Stay central, don’t worry about the traffic behind, it’s the guys in front you need to focus on.

Enjoy your ride and stay safe.  As always wear a helmet and be sure you have our free app

Hit and Run

I recently was contacted by a cyclist who was having touble getting the police to take his hit and run report. He was shocked and appalled by the police’s lack of interest in his plight. He had been hit while riding his bike then threatened  by the driver with a weapon if he took pictures of his license plate.

Seems like something the police would be interested in, but they weren’t. I wish I could say this was an isolated case, but with the police being so overworked these hit and runs are often going un-investigated. Even worse, in the case of a current client, they even knew who hit her and still won’t press charges or prosecute.

Cycling Accident

So if you ever involved in hit and run here is my advise:

  1. Call the police, hopefully they will be able to find and prosecute the offender and take your accident report.
  2. Get medical attention.
  3. Notify YOUR insurance company within 24 hours. This is very important! If you have Uninsured Motorist insurance your policy will probably cover your injuries and bike, but you must notify them within 24 hours.
  4. Contact our office and we will be sure that all the other details are handled and you.
  5. Be sure to download or free app before you have an accident so that you can be sure to get all the details you need while at the scene of an accident.

Been Hit by a Motorist without Insurance?

Imagine the following scenario: You’re out for a ride. It’s a great day and everything seems perfect. Then, suddenly a negligent motorist hits you and you’re down. The paramedics arrive and your whisked off to the hospital.

Later, the police arrive and take a statement from you. You’re comforted that at least the case is being investigated and you assume the responsible party will take care of your bills and injuries.

A few days later,however, you learn that the motorists is uninsured. Case over right? You’re on your own to handle your medical bills, loss of earnings and all the other difficulties of being the victim of an uninsured motorist. Well, maybe not.

Unfortunately I see this scenario all too often in my practice. What many cyclists don’t know is that if you have car insurance, and you have uninsured motorists coverage, you may be able to recover money from your own automobile insurance company for your damages.

This recovery is contractual and does not affect you rates, provided you were not at fault for the accident.

It will even apply to members of your household while riding (your spouse, children or others living with you, even if they are not on the policy!).

There are really three situations where uninsured motorist coverage comes into play:

The first is what I just outlined. A negligent motorist hits you and has no insurance coverage.

The second is called an underinsured motorist. In this case the negligent motorist has insurance, but the policy is a minimum policy ($15,000.00 per person and $30,000.00 per accident in California). Your injuries and damages will far exceed the policy limits. Provided you have uninsured motorist coverage that exceeds the policy limits of the negligent driver, you can recover the difference from your own insurance carrier.

For instance, if you carry uninsured motorist coverage in the amount of $50,000.00 per person, you would recover the policy limits of$15,000.00 from the negligent driver and then make a claim under your underinsured motorist coverage for the $50,000.00. If your case is substantial, you would be entitled to the $50,000.00 with an offset of $15,000.00 already recovered from the other party leaving you with an additional $35,000.00 from your own carrier. Remember, your policy must exceed the coverage of the other party. If it is equal to the other coverage, there is no underinsured coverage.

The final situation is the hit and run driver. You’re hit but the motorist flees the scene and there are no witnesses or other way to track down the driver. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, it will apply provide you take the following steps:

  1. You must file a police report;
  2. You must report the accident to your own insurance company within 24 hours. These reporting requirements are flexible so that they may be extended if your are unable to file because of your injuries or if you are in the hospital.
  3. There is also a requirement that there was “contact” between you and the vehicle. This contact requirement is liberally construed so that even debris thrown from the car may be sufficient, such as dirt or gravel thrown at you causing you to fall.

In my practice, we thoroughly investigate all aspects of coverage, and we do an asset search on the negligent driver to make sure there are no additional sources of recovery for your injuries.

Next time I will cover another common and sometimes confusing scenario: your injured by another cyclist or someone who isn’t driving a vehicle.

Have fun out there and be safe.

What to do if you’re in an accident

Accidents are scary and often times it is hard to know what you should do if you are ever involved in one. It is important to keep your composure after the accident and take a few steps to ensure all the facts of your accident are documented. What you do immediately after the accident can greatly impact  how much you recover for your injuries and for your bike.

Here are some simple steps to help you after the accident.

USE YOUR PHONE! You may not have a pen and paper, but get your phone out and use our free app to record notes, take pictures and collect all the data you will need. Download our app!

Call the Police and Get An Accident Report.

  • It is vital to get a police accident report. The police will document many aspects of the scene that will be important as your case progresses.
  • Sit tight and don’t disturb the accident scene. Try to preserve everything as-is and if you have to move something snap a picture of it before you move it.
  • If there is no police report then it is your word against theirs.
  • Even if you aren’t injured get a report.
    • Many people don’t realize they are hurt until hours later.
  • While you wait get as much information as possible
  • Be sure to get your version of the event in the accident report. Report all your injuries, even if minor as they may develop into more serious conditions later.

Get Information –Download our app!

The best and easiest way to get all the information you will need is to have our app on your phone before you are in an accident. It is free! (more info.)

  • Obtain Driver and Witness Contact Information
    • Name of the automobile driver, address, phone number, driver’s license number, vehicle license number, and insurance information.
  • Witness Information
    • Names and contact information for everyone who witnessed the accident. (Police report may not include this information)
    • If you can’t get this on your own ask someone to get it for you.

Document Your Side of the Story

  • What happened and What Your Injuries Are
    • What happened
    • How it happened
    • Where it Occurred
    • Other Conditions
      • Road conditions, traffic, weather, lights or stop signs etc…
  • Record Your Injuries
    • Take photos if you can of your injuries and start a photo journal documenting the progress of them.
  • Seek medical attention. Even if minor to get an accurate record and description of your injuries.

Contact Our Office

  • Many accidents between bikes and cars involve complex legal issues.
  • You need personal injury attorney who understands bicycling and who has handled bike accident cases.
  • Once you contact us we will handle all the details of your case allowing you to get back to your life.


Other Important Issues:

  • Don’t negotiate with the driver. Many drivers initially apologize and accept blame, only to later deny their negligence.  Getting a police report will document the incident from a neutral 3rd party. This information will be very helpful in negating with their insurance company who will attempt to deny responsibility.
  • Preserve Evidence. Don’t get your bike fixed, wash your clothes, send your helmet to be fixed or replaced. Keep all evidence in it’s original state until your attorney advises you otherwise. This can be very valuable evidence for your case.
  • Don’t negate with the insurance company. They have hired big guns to negotiate you down and get you to take the bare minimum. Are you a professional negotiator? They have professionals on their side so should you!

How To Ruin Your Claim

You have been hurt while riding your bike and you think you might be entitled to recover some money to get your bike fixed, pay medical bills etc. There are a few things that you can do to RUIN YOUR CLAIM.

1. Fudging the Facts

You may be tempted to exaggerate your injuries, downplay your role in the accident, or just plain not tell the truth. While it may seem like this can help your case it will do just the opposite. Fudging on the facts will always come back to bite you and possibly even ruin your entire claim. So when talking to the police or your attorney always “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

2. Negotiate with the Insurance Company Yourself

When the insurance company calls you they are not your friend, no matter how friendly they are. These companies hire the big guns to try and get you to discredit your story, minimize the other parties role in the accident, and mostly to get you to take the least amount of money for a settlement as possible. Anything you tell them on the phone or in person, they can use against you in your case. These people are skilled and make big money by taking yours away. Your best bet NOT TO TALK TO THEM. Hire us and tell them to talk to your attorney! 

3. Not Taking Care of Yourself

It may seem like your injuries are minor. You may not have time to go to appointments. You might think that you will just get better on your own, but taking good care of your injuries is vital to your case. Injuries can worsen in the hours and days after an accident. It is very difficult for a regular person to evaluate the extent of injuries, especially head injuries. These can be serious or even life-threatning but feel like no big deal. Seek good medical attention and make your health a priority after your injury. Not doing so could cause the insurance company and judge to believe you were not actually hurt and ruin your claim!

4. Not Hiring a Good Personal Injury Attorney

Legal matters are very complicated. There are forms, deadlines and language that must be met and accurate or your claim will be void. The system is difficult to navigate and without an experienced guide you will get lost. With all that you are dealing with in recovery handling investigations, police reports, filings, depositions and filing fees are the last thing you want to do. Hiring a good attorney is your best chance at getting your life back.

Law Offices of Thomas F. Forsyth specializes in representing bicycle accident victims, it is our passion. For more information on filing an injury claim, call (626) 240-4633 or Contact Us Online.

No Fee Until You Get Paid

After a traumatic experience the last thing you need is to worry about how you will pay for the services you need. We work on your case with no cost to you. Our fees are paid out of the settlement.

Filing a lawsuit, paying court costs, hiring investigators and even expert witnesses can add up. Having these pieces of information is invaluable to the success of your case. At our office we pay upfront for these costs to get you the best possible settlement. If you go it alone you may have to take a small settlement from an insurance company if you can’t pay these costs yourself.

Our full service firm takes care of every detail of your case allowing you to recover and get back to your life.

Have You Been Hurt While Riding Your Bike?

If you, your children or family members have been hurt while cycling then you may have a case. There are many factors to consider when evaluating a case and the fastest and most beneficial way is to contact us for a free case evaluation consultation. Here are some common grounds for filing a case:

  • Hit by a car or other vehicle
  • Car door opening into your path
  • Unsafe road conditions
  • Dog chasing/bite
  • Collision with another cyclist
  • Faulty bike part/Recalled parts
  • Bad Repairs
  • Heckling

Every case is unique and needs to be evaluated by an attorney to see if there is a case, but don’t let police, witnesses or friends and family make that determination. The law is complex, the factors are many and it takes a professional to sort through the details and advise you on the appropriate course of action.