In California, cyclists are free to share the road with motorists, except in places where it is prohibited. Bikes are considered vehicles, and many traffic laws apply specifically to cyclists. However, there is often confusion regarding what a bicycle can and cannot do on the road.
As a cyclist, you have the same rights and responsibilities as a motorist. You must always follow the rules of the road—including stopping for stop signs and red lights. Not only is this the law, but obeying traffic signs can help significantly reduce the risk of an accident.
California traffic laws provide cyclists the same rights as motorists. Bikes may travel on the road with the flow of traffic. However, cyclists are also held to the same responsibilities as drivers. This means that cyclists must observe the right of way in traffic and at intersections, and must come to a full stop at stop signs and red lights.
In 2021, a bill was introduced that would have made it legal for cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs. Known as the Safety Stop Bill AB122, proponents claimed that the law would improve cyclist safety by getting bicycles out of an intersection—and out of the way of drivers—much faster.
However, the initiative ultimately failed when Governor Gavin Newson vetoed it in October of that year. As of 2023, all California cyclists must come to a complete stop when approaching a stop sign, even when the intersection is clear.
Like motorists, cyclists in California also have the right to pursue compensation if they are injured in a traffic accident caused by someone else. California is a fault-based car accident state, meaning that negligent drivers are financially responsible for any collisions they cause. Any victim injured in the collision has the right to pursue compensation, including cyclists.
If you are injured in a traffic accident while riding a bike, you can file one of three different types of claims:
Failure to stop at a stop sign could not only heighten your risk of an accident, but it could also impact your ability to recover compensation if you are involved in a crash. If you are found to have run a stop sign before the collision, the adjuster may use this fact as an excuse to reduce your settlement. In some cases, your insurance claim could be denied completely.
During a lawsuit, California’s comparative negligence will apply. The court may assign you a percentage of fault and reduce your settlement accordingly. If you are found to be 40% at fault and ask for a $100,000 settlement, you would only recover $60,000.
If you are involved in a bicycle accident, you need an attorney on your side who can protect your interests and fight for your right to compensation. A San Francisco bicycle accident lawyer will have the skills, expertise, and resources that you need to fight for your right to recovery. As soon as possible following the collision, schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your next steps.