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Bicycle Accidents - Specific Issues

Robert Karns

Although there can be similar issues regarding bicycle accidents and car accidents, bicycle accidents can have many specific issues different than car accidents that must be considered.

The law specific to bicycles must be examined to see the effect it will have on the outcome of the accident. In Rhode Island, there are specific laws that apply to bicycles including:

  • The operator of a bicycle must follow the same laws, regulations and duties as the operator of any vehicle. However, bicycles are not banned from any street or roadway or highway unless there is express prohibition for bicycle riding such as on a particular highway and it must be posted.
  • Anyone riding a bicycle fifteen years of age or younger must wear a helmet.
  • Anyone riding a bicycle must ride as far to the right as practical and can be done safely.
  • Anyone riding a bicycle on a sidewalk or crosswalk has all the rights of a pedestrian. Except anyone riding a bicycle on a sidewalk, crosswalk or bicycle path must yield to pedestrians.

It is important for anyone riding a bicycle to make certain the bicycle has safety equipment such as a reflector in the back or lights on the back and front when it is dark out and it is important to wear bright reflective clothing. In addition, as stated, anyone fifteen years of age or younger must wear a helmet in Rhode Island.

When riding on a bicycle path there are usually rules posted on a sign board, and often times the bicycle path is divided by a white or yellow line. This indicates pedestrians, skate boarders, roller blade users or bicycles must each stay to the right in the direction they are going.

Bicycle paths give rise to bad collisions, injuries and problems. A bicycle going too fast can strike a slower bicycle. A pedestrian could walk in front of a bicycle causing a crash. Severe injuries can result to the bicyclist. This would give rise to liability against who caused the crash, usually covered by the wrongdoers homeowner's insurance.

In addition to problems with bicycle paths, dangerous roadways can also cause bicycle accidents including roadways with loose debris, potholes or poor pavement. Overgrown foliage or trees that block driveways or traffic signs are dangerous. A full investigation is necessary to determine what caused the problem that caused the bicycle accident, including how any defect in the roadway occurred including any contractor that was working in the area, or perhaps the city neglected to inspect the roadway and fix the defect. Private land owners can be liable if they allow foliage or trees to block driveways or traffic signs. These issues also give rise to liability against who caused the crash.

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