Bicycling is not only a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors, but it is also becoming a more popular mode of transportation due to the benefits that it can bring. Bicycling is cost effective, promotes a healthy lifestyle, and increases a sense of community. But with these benefits come serious risks, and many cities are not equipped with roads and regulations to safely accommodate both cars and bikes. The risks bicyclists take can involve injury resulting from collisions with motorists, faulty equipment, and dangerous road conditions. It is important for motorists and bicyclists alike to know the rules of the road and to know their rights.
The Basics of South Carolina Law for Bicyclists
Title 56 chapter 5 of the South Carolina Code of Law states that bicyclists riding on roadways have all the same rights and duties that motorists have. That means that both are expected to know the rules of the road applicable to them, and both are subject to liability if found to be negligent in a collision.
It is important to note that bicycle lanes are different than recreational bicycle paths. Bicycle lanes are paved portions of the road that have been designated by striping, pavement markings and signs that indicate the exclusive use of bicyclists. On roads that contain bicycle lanes, bicyclists are required to ride in the lanes and should only venture out when necessary to pass another bicyclist or to avoid an obstruction. Motorists may not block the lane, and must yield to bicyclists in the lane before entering or crossing it.
When roads do not provide a bicycle lane, bicyclists may ride on the roadway, but should ride as close to the right side of the roadway as possible. Due care must be exercised by bicyclists at all times. Conversely, drivers of motor vehicles must exercise caution and keep a safe distance between their vehicle and bicyclists.
More than one person must not ride a bicycle unless it is designed to carry multiple riders. Bicyclists are prohibited from engaging in reckless behavior such as clinging to vehicles, carrying articles that prevent control of handlebars, riding without brakes, and riding without front lamps and rear reflectors at night time.
Bicyclists must indicate with the arm or hand when they are turning, decreasing speed or stopping unless the arm or hand is needed to control the bicycle. To indicate a right turn, a cyclist can extend the left arm upward, raise the left arm to a square, or extend the right arm horizontally to the right. Left turns should be communicated by extending the left arm horizontally. Extending one of the arms downward should signal stops or decreases in speed.
If Injury Occurs
In collision cases, the basis for a personal injury claim usually arises under negligence. Negligence is the failure to exercise reasonable care when there was a duty to do so. As stated above, both bicyclists and motorists have a duty to exercise reasonable care on the road. Sometimes injury is caused by intentional wrongs, say from road rage. In this scenario, the injured party may file a suit for battery.
Other times, injury occurs simply from faulty equipment. This scenario will involve a suit on the basis of strict liability, which holds the creators of the equipment strictly liable for injuries resulting from defective design or manufacturing of products.
Bicyclists are particularly vulnerable to injury due to the exposed nature of the sport. It is important to know your rights and seek protection when injured on the road. Our experienced personal injury attorneys at Solomon Law Group are specialists at advocating on behalf of injured commuters. Contact our office today to learn more about how our lawyers can serve you.