Under California state law, bicycles have the same rights to use the roads as other vehicles. That means every cyclist has to follow the same road rules as motorcycles, cars, and other vehicles. This also means that other vehicles must respect bicyclists as they would other types of vehicles.
However, the use of roads remains extremely dangerous for cyclists, and it is common to hear stories in which a driver’s aggressiveness resulted not only in serious injury but, in the most unfortunate cases, in the death of a cyclist.
The National Traffic and Safety Administration defines aggressive driving as all those behaviors that constitute multiple traffic violations, which in turn pose an ongoing risk to pedestrians and other drivers, including bicyclists. Some examples of aggressive driving include:
- Not respecting distances between vehicles
- Not respecting traffic signs
- Not yielding
- Improper lane changes
- Verbal attacks and other threats
These aggressive behaviors are particularly alarming for bicyclists, who do not have the protections that come with driving heavier vehicles. When a cyclist is hit or struck on the road, they often have little protection, leading to increased exposure, which can lead to severe injury or even death.
While drivers tend to blame cyclists for any accidents they are involved in, in most cases, it is possible to show that these incidents are caused by some form of aggression or negligent behavior on the part of the driver of the car. That occurs because the bikes are smaller and the drivers are not paying attention. As a result, the driver may change lanes and not see the bike, causing an accident.
When a bicyclist is struck by a vehicle, they typically suffer serious injuries, which can commonly include:
- Broken bones
- Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis