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Understanding fault in a car-bicycle collision

On Behalf of | Jan 7, 2022 | Bicycle Accidents

If a car and a bicycle collide on the road, who is to blame? Many of us have a clear understanding of traffic rules pertaining to cars, but in order to understand fault in such an accident, it’s also necessary to understand the applicable bicycle laws on the roadway.

In New York, there are a number of bicycle laws that could have an impact on fault. In this article, we examine some key bicycle laws that may be considered in the event of an accident. Some of them may surprise you:

  • Can a cyclist legally ride in the road? Bicycles are treated like any other vehicles in the road and must therefore follow all normal traffic laws. Coasting through a stop light or stop sign, for example, is not permitted on a bicycle.
  • Where in the road should a cyclist be positioned? The law dictates that cyclists position themselves as far to the right as possible – provided that riding in this way is safe. However, if there are obstacles or other hazards that make riding to the right unsafe, the cyclist may ride elsewhere.
  • What if a cyclist doesn’t ride in the bike lane? It may be surprising to learn that although some cities designate a specific lane for cyclists to ride in, there is no state law requiring them to use it. Therefore, like the rationale above, if there is debris or other hazards in the bike lane, the cyclist can choose to ride further to the left.
  • Does a cyclist have to ride with a light? If a cyclist is riding between half an hour after sunset and half an hour before sunrise or during any other conditions with compromised visibility, they are required to use a white light on the front of the bicycle with 500-foot visibility as well as a red light with 300-foot visibility on the back. In addition, at least one of these lights must be visible from either side of the bicycle for at least 200 feet.

Understanding the laws regarding bicycles and motor vehicles on the roadway can help you ride – or drive – more safely.


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