When driving in Phoenix or the surrounding cities and towns, how often have you noticed a bicyclist in the area? If you are like many drivers, the chances are that you seek bicycles every day as you travel the streets of Phoenix. While some areas, including Tempe, have a greater number of cyclists than others, the Valley itself is home to a large number of riders who utilize bicycles as a primary or secondary means of transportation.
That may not be surprising to most: it is legal to ride a bicycle in Phoenix where cyclists are provided with all the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of cars, trucks or vans. But too often, the rights of these riders are not respected and a collision occurs, more often than not, leaving the bicyclist injured. When a bicycle accident takes place, many victims are unaware of their potential legal rights and what options may be available to them. Consulting with an attorney, especially one that represents personal injury victims, may help you understand whether you have a valid claim for your damages, and if so, what avenues of recoveries may be available to you.
Many members of local and state governments across Arizona have made it clear that a safer bicycling environment is in the best interests of all citizens, whether or not they choose to ride. Limiting or reducing bicycle accidents will safe lives, prevent injuries, and reduce the financial damages to individuals and the state, including medical expenses that may be incurred by a victim.
The law in Arizona requires that motorists, or those in a vehicle, who intend to pass a bicycle do so in a safe and reasonable manner. Providing a safe passing distance between a car and a bicycle is a requirement and failure to do so is not only hazardous but can lead to a traffic citation on the part of an offending operator. The Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety uses a slogan on their website stating, “Share the streets, give a bike five feet” to help motorists remember that increasing the distance between their vehicle and a bicycle substantially reduces the odds of a collision occurring, thereby preventing injuries that may have resulted.
Some states across the nation have enacted stronger legislation to govern the required minimum space a car must leave between itself and a bicyclist when passing. For example, in 2013, California passed a requirement mandating a three-foot space between any vehicle and a bicycle when passing that cyclist. If motorists are not able to leave a three foot space, they are required to reduce their speed and pass the bicyclist slowly, putting safety first. Failure to leave either three feet of space or to reduce a vehicle’s speed when passing can trigger a traffic ticket to a motorist that begins at $35.