Bicycle Accidents and Pedestrian Accidents
Bicycle Accidents and Pedestrian Accidents
Hit by a Car in Los Angeles?
One minute you are riding your bike or walking down the street. Then you are hit by a car. A bicycle accident where you or a someone you care for gets hit by a car can change lives. So can a pedestrian accident. Long and difficult recuperation, significant medical bills, lost wages are your first concerns when you are injured in a bicycle accident or a pedestrian accident. Then you face potential future medical expenses, the uncertainty about a good recovery or possibly a permanent disability from the bicycle accident or pedestrian accident. In most bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents a negligent driver is the cause. Nevertheless, the driver’s insurance company will often try to blame the bike rider or pedestrian. Our law firm has 20 years of experience and expertise to fight the insurance companies in bicycle accident cases as well as and pedestrian accidents. We are well versed in the relevant portions of the California Vehicle Code. These code sections are very important in bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents. Our investigation also consists of accident reconstruction methods, road designs, bicycle manufacturing and design issues and others. We have successfully represented bicycle accident and pedestrian accident clients. Also remember, even if this driver did not remain at the scene, we can seek coverage through the your own insurance policy, if appropriate.
Vehicle Accidents Are Serious When They Involve Bike Riders or Pedestrians
Bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents are very common in Los Angeles. They frequently result in catastrophic injuries or death. In these cases, your personal injury lawyer should seek to recover money for:
- Traumatic brain injuries and head trauma
- Neck and back / spinal injures
- Broken bones and/or severe fractures
- Disfigurement of the face or body
- Cuts and bruises
- Death of a loved one
Riding a Bicycle on the Sidewalk in Los Angeles
Although traffic collisions involving bicyclists and automobiles are common, the laws governing bicyclists seem to be the subject of confusion for many insurance adjusters as well as law-enforcement officers and even defense attorneys. A common misconception is the mistaken belief that the California Vehicle Code prohibits a person from riding a bicycle against traffic when on the sidewalk.
California Vehicle Code sections 21650.1 and 21200 are often referenced by law-enforcement officers, adjusters and defense attorneys as the applicable sections of the Vehicle Code requiring bicyclists to ride with the flow of traffic when on a sidewalk. The plain and unambiguous language of these sections, however, do not require that a bicycle be operated in the same direction as vehicular traffic when on a sidewalk. Section 21650.1 does not specifically include the terms “sidewalk” or “crosswalk” in the statutory language. It only states that if someone is riding his or her bicycle on a roadway or on the shoulder of a highway, then he or she must do so in the same direction as motor vehicles.
The Legislature singled out only two portions of a highway for regulation: the roadway and the shoulder of a highway and intentionally left out the terms “sidewalk” and “crosswalk.” Had the Legislature wished to include the terms “sidewalk” or “crosswalk,” it would have done so. Thus, for Mr. Schott to have been in violation of section 21650.1, he must have been riding in the opposite direction of adjacent traffic and be either (a) on the shoulder of a highway; or (b) on a roadway, which he clearly was not.
The Vehicle Code also makes it clear that a sidewalk is not the same as a roadway or a shoulder of a highway. Section 555 defines “sidewalk” as “that portion of a highway, other than the roadway, set apart by curbs, barriers, markings or other delineation for pedestrian travel.” (Emphasis added.) The statutory language is clear in that sidewalks are distinct and separate from roadways and the shoulder of highways.
Section 21200 of the Vehicle Code states “A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division.” The problem is that most people do not address the last clause of this statute which states “except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.” (Emphasis added.) This last portion is critical because the statute sans the exception would lead to absurd results. Under the Vehicle Code, “vehicle” is broadly defined as a device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway, excepting a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks. This includes Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Devices, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, motorcycles, trucks, etc. Each of these vehicles has laws governing them under the Vehicle Code. A simple example can illustrate the absurdity as a person is not permitted to ride their bicycle on the freeway and a car is not permitted to drive on the sidewalk with pedestrians.
The plain language of section 21650 is also instructive as it states that upon all highways, a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway, except as follows: “. . .(g) This section does not prohibit the operation of bicycles on any shoulder of a highway, on any sidewalk, on any bicycle path within a highway, or along any crosswalk or bicycle path crossing, where the operation is not otherwise prohibited by this code or local ordinance.” The language of the statute is clear and unambiguous – by specific statutory exception, the requirement to drive on the right half of the roadway does not apply to sidewalks.
While there may be, however, local ordinances that prohibit bicycle riding on sidewalks, that is not the case here. In fact, in the City of Los Angeles there is no local ordinance banning bicycles on sidewalks. In fact, Los Angeles Municipal Code section 56.15 allows sidewalk riding as long as it is done without the “wanton disregard” for pedestrian safety. The language in no way requires that one must ride with the flow of traffic on the sidewalk.
Subsection “(g)” of section 21650 was added in 2009, to specifically insert the phrase “on any sidewalk, on any bicycle path within a highway, or along any crosswalk or bicycle path crossing.” The Legislature, when passing AB 2230 (§ 21650.1), intended that “Existing law requires that vehicles be driven upon the right half of the roadway, subject to specified exceptions,” and that “[t]his bill would state that those provisions do not prohibit bicycles from being operated on any shoulder of a highway, unless that operation is otherwise prohibited by the Vehicle Code or local ordinance, and would require bicycles operated on a roadway or the shoulder of a highway to be operated in the same direction as vehicles are required to be driven.” When the Legislature added subsection “(g)” to section 21650 in 2009 through SB 734, its intention was that “This bill would also permit the operation of bicycles on any sidewalk, on any bicycle path within a highway, or along any crosswalk or bicycle path crossing.”
In the very recent case of Spriesterbach v. Holland 2013 Cal. App. LEXIS 272 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. Apr. 9, 2013), the Second Appellate District followed all of the above in ruling that a bicyclists is permitted to ride on the sidewalk and can do so either with or against the flow of traffic. I have attached the opinion and direct your attention to the following statements of the Court:
“Sections 21650 and 21650.1 govern the riding of bicycles on sidewalks in the absence of local ordinance. It is undisputed that the City of Los Angeles, where the collision took place, neither prohibits bicycle riding on the sidewalk nor prescribes the direction of such bicycle travel.” (Page 15)
Section 21650 provides that bicycles may be ridden on a sidewalk: It says that vehicles must be driven on the “right half of the roadway,” but that bicycles may be operated “on any sidewalk, on any bicycle path within a highway, or along any crosswalk or bicycle path crossing, where the operation is not otherwise prohibited by this code or local ordinance.” (Italics added.) (Page 16)
Section 21650.1 governs the direction of bicycle travel in the absence of local ordinance. It provides that a bicycle operated “on a roadway, or the shoulder of a highway, shall be operated in the same direction as vehicles are required to be driven upon the roadway.” (Italics added.) Section 21650.1 does not define “roadway” or “highway.” Those terms are defined elsewhere in the Vehicle Code, however. Specifically: A “highway” is “a way or place of whatever nature, publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.” (§§ 360, 590.) A “roadway” is “that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel.” (§ 530.) A “sidewalk” is “that portion of a highway, other than the roadway, set apart by curbs, barriers, markings or other delineation for pedestrian travel.” (§ 555.) A “highway” thus has two distinct parts: a “roadway,” intended for vehicular travel, and a “sidewalk,” intended for pedestrian travel. While a “highway” includes a “roadway,” the two terms are not synonymous. Instead, a “highway” is composed of both a “roadway” and a “sidewalk.” Accordingly, because section 21650.1 requires bicycles to travel in the same direction as vehicular traffic only when ridden on “a roadway” or the “shoulder of a highway,” it does not by its plain language require bicycles to travel with the flow of traffic when ridden on a “sidewalk.” The court erred by instructing the jury otherwise. Holland argued in the trial court, and contends on appeal, that section 21650.1 (Page 16)
“Section 21650.1 does not require bicyclists riding on a sidewalk to travel in the same direction as vehicular street traffic. (Page 19)
Based upon the foregoing, Has successfully argued on behalf of its client’s that they were properly observing all laws and rules of the road when the incident occurred even if they were riding on the sidewalk. We know hot to convince the insurance companies that their driver, to the contrary, the cause of the incident was your insured failure to use reasonable care in driving her vehicle. The law provides that drivers must keep a lookout for pedestrians, obstacles, and other vehicles. They must also control the speed and movement of their vehicles. The failure to use reasonable care in driving is negligence.
Vehicle code section 21804 ,provides as follows:
Building a Case For Justice • Free Case Evaluation
Future needs of someone injured in a bicycle accident or pedestrian accident can be high and unknown. You should talk to a personal injury lawyer even if you think you can handle you case by yourself. Call us to talk about your case. We are sure after talking to us, you will feel comfortable using us to handle your case. We can conduct the investigation and calculate damages to position to the case for a settlement. If not, we can go to trial. Call us toll free at (310) 226-7676 for a free consultation. We can make home or hospital visits and there are no attorney’s fees unless we collect for you.