Insurance Company Blames Sacramento Bicyclist For Car Accident, Part 2 of 3

(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of this car accident case and its proceedings.)


XYZ contends that Plaintiff was the sole cause of this accident.

A bicyclist is subject to all of the same provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle except for obvious exceptions. Vehicle Code section 21200 (a).

When not otherwise prohibited by the Vehicle Code or local ordinance, bicycles may be ridden on the shoulder of a highway but whether they are operated on the roadway or the shoulder they must travel in the same direction as vehicles. Vehicle Code section 21650.1. A person riding a bicycle on a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic must keep as near the right side of the curb or edge of the roadway as possible, Vehicle Code section 21202 (a), except when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that make it unsafe to continue along the right curb or edge. Vehicle Code section 21202(a)(3) [ No person shall ride, operate or use a bicycle, … on a sidewalk, bikeway or boardwalk in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. ].

In this case, Plaintiff admitted, at deposition, that it was his normal custom and practice to ride his with the flow of traffic. However, he would usually ride on the sidewalk. Yet, on this particular occasion, he chose to ride his bicycle on the north side of the street, in a westerly direction against the flow of eastbound traffic. Certainly, this was a willful decision by the plaintiff to disobey the rules of the road. As such, XYZ contends that plaintiff’s willful decision(s) constitutes negligence per se.

Although not factually supported, XYZ anticipates plaintiff will argue that he was unable to ride along the north side of the street because of alleged construction blocking the curb lane and sidewalk. But this so-called construction is not corroborated or confirmed by any other evidence including the witness statement of the investigating police office at the time of the accident. Nevertheless, even if a jury believes plaintiff, there was certainly nothing preventing him from riding his bike in the number one (1) lane on the north side of the street. Clearly, had plaintiff been lawfully operating his bicycle by riding on the right side of road, with the flow of traffic, this accident would not have occurred.

Furthermore, a bicyclist is required to have his bicycle equipped with a headlamp to be used on a bicycle at nighty visible for 300 feet as well as a rear reflector visible from 500 feet to the rear. Vehicle Code section 21201(d). Plaintiff admits that this accident occurred at approximately 3:20 a.m. and it was dark out. Nevertheless, Plaintiff also admits he did not have a headlamp affixed to his bike at the time of the accident. Nor, for that matter, was he wearing any type of reflective material on his clothing which consisted of brown work boots, dark blue sweater and khaki pants.

Plaintiff’s failure to conform to Vehicle Code sections 21201(d) and (e), regarding the use of a headlamp on a bicycle during hours of darkness, constitutes negligence per se. See Couch v. Werner, (1929) 99 Cal.App. 557, 562 [failure to conform to the statute (then § 99 of the Vehicle Code), with respect to the use of headlights is negligence per se.] (See Part 3 of 3.)

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

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