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Important Bicycle Accident Laws That All Riders Should Know

— April 28, 2023

As much as it’s nice to roam around Francisco in beautiful weather, it is also as much important to know their laws about safety, insurance, negligence, and so on.

If you’re new to the Golden State, you’ll be thrilled to know that the state is biker friendly! They offer many stunning bike rides and sightseeing, including beautiful coastal pathways, mountain excursions, and attractive architecture, not to mention the iconic Golden Gate Bridge ride. And the best part is there are rental bike companies with narrated tours so you can enjoy exploring the city by the bay. 

Although, with great fun comes great responsibility. And as a cyclist, you’re more prone to damages during the accident than any other vehicle. Therefore, The California Vehicle Code (VEH) describes the laws on where and how to ride a bicycle along with the rules and responsibilities.

Riding a Bicycle

The responsibilities and rights of a cyclist are the same as those of someone riding a car. It means that a cyclist has to abide by all the traffic laws, such as stopping at the stop sign or slowing down speed.

They are allowed to use almost all public roads but not all sidewalks. It also mentions the role of adhering to the bike DUI rule. If the officer finds you intoxicated, you can get a fine according to the severity of your violation. 

Wear a Helmet

With the number of accidents that happen on roads and how in any motor collision with a bicycle, the cyclist will be more injured than others: all cyclists must wear a helmet. 

Brain injuries are one of the common causes of death in bicycle accidents. Thus, this helmet law is one of the most necessary laws because a minor accident can lead to a life-threatening situation.

And in case of an accident, even the minor one, contact San Francisco Bicycle Accident Lawyers to get your insurance or your medical costs and damages compensated as soon as possible. 

Staying on the Road

Go with the flow and stay with the moving traffic, only if you can drive as fast as they can. Otherwise, you can use the lane on the right side of the road.

If you’re moving slower than the traffic, ride as close to the right lane curb of the roads. Yet, there are a few exceptions; overtaking a cyclist, avoiding an obstacle or the road is under construction, riding a narrow street, or making a left turn.

Ride as close to the curb of the left lanes if you’re riding on a one-way street.

Rules for Space

Man on bicycle riding past parked cars; image by Adeline Lee, via
Man on bicycle riding past parked cars; image by Adeline Lee, via

Sometimes, a vehicle with a disabled passenger may need access to the right curb for safety measures. Or taxis may want to gain access to drop them off. In such cases, be a good neighbor and provide them with road space. 

The Right Size

According to California law, all cyclists should have a bike; that is the right size. It means that the cycle must contain a braked wheel skid to stop the cycle wheel, and the handles should be lower than the shoulder level for support and allow the rider to sit upright. Lastly, the rider must be able to sit on the bike with one foot on the ground.

Night Light

While driving at night, use a white headlight to light up the path in the front. We suggested that you also wear reflectors visible from the front and back. They will help other motorists to see you at night. 

The above rules and laws are necessary to qualify for cycling in San Fran with safety. But there are specific laws regarding events of accidents for a cyclist. Let’s dig down into those, shall we

Negligence Law

Every rider on the road, including the driver and cyclist, is instructed to act responsibly on the streets. They follow the necessary cautious laws to protect themselves and others from accidents. 

In an accident event the negligence law will decide who was at fault. It could be any one or both of them. For instance, if a cyclist runs a red light and further clashes with a car, the cyclist will be at fault and has to disburse for the impacts.

Comparative fault

Not wearing the right/yellow reflector or simply breaking the traffic law in some way can diminish the recovery amount you get after an accident.

It means that in some states: if you get into an accident where both parties are at fault, the amount that the injured party receives will be reduced by the percentage of their own fault contributing to the accident.

Let’s create a scenario to understand what this law implies; visualize a cyclist riding on a sidewalk and getting hit by a car. The driver is at fault for not stopping for the cyclist, but the cyclist contributed to the incident by not following the traffic laws and using the sidewalk. 

Here, the cyclist will receive the recovery money, but their fault percentage will diminish the awarding amount.

Hit and Run

Rushing through the busy roads of San Fran can be dangerous, as the only thing to protect you is a helmet. But what’s worse than getting in an accident is when the driver flees after hitting you: a hit-and-run case.

While not all drivers run from the scene, the ones that do are found and sued for compensation instantly. 


The insurance laws for cyclists are the same as for other riders or drivers. However, the method of compensating the injured party may vary.

In some states, the insurance company (of the at-fault person) will pay for the damages and injuries to the victim. However, in some other complex parts of the state, the insurance companies of both parties involved will pay for their own damages and injuries regardless of who was at fault.

Timeline for Claim

As bicycle collisions or accidents are common, it is better to be aware of the Statute of Limitations. A bicycle collision is a case of personal injury having a specific time frame to file a lawsuit. This time frame is called the ‘Statute of Limitations’ and varies from state to state. 

In California, this time frame may range from one to three years, soon after the victim knows about their injury.


As much as it’s nice to roam around Francisco in beautiful weather, it is also as much important to know their laws about safety, insurance, negligence, and so on. Be aware of the care and caution of cycle riding and have a safe tour around the Golden State. 

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