The July 2015 issue of Plaintiff Magazine, Miles B. Cooper explains when a bicycle expert may be needed.
In California, traffic rules for bikes are found at the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Bicyclists on public streets have the same rights and responsibilities as cars. They need to obey traffic signals and stop signs, ride only in permitted sections of freeways, ride in the same direction as other traffic, ride as near to the right curb or edge of the roadway, make turns in the same way as drivers, and signal intentions to motorists.
Vehicular cycling is the theory that bicyclists should use roads as if cyclists are cars. Riders are taught to take the lane when necessary. This avoids accidents such as being brought to a sudden stop when a parked vehicle’s door is opened without warning in the rider’s path.
When crowded cities such as San Francisco adopt city bicycling programs, more cyclists are on the roads. Cyclists advocate roads designed so cyclists feel safe. Bikes are not slower, narrow cars. They are road users who deserve their own space.
The more complicated a bicycle and motor vehicle accident, the more important a bicycle expert becomes. A bicycle expert is a trained professional who can explain the expectations for cyclists. Usually a bicycle expert may have an urban planning background, be a League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor, or have completed traffic research.
The expert provides knowledge about bike speeds, hazard perception, gearing, and the forces at work when a cyclist is hit by a vehicle.
The bias against cyclists translates into bad witness statements, sloppy collision analysis by investigating officers and incorrect findings of fault, which become part of the Traffic Collision Report. An adverse police report or witness statement decreases chances of pre-litigation settlement.
A plaintiff or defense attorney may consult a bicycle expert on issues involving bicycle accident reconstruction, bicycle design, and safety. Experts may opine on the manufacture of bicycles, components, and injury causation. Bicycle litigation involves issues unique to cycling, the rider and equipment.
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