Drivers must be cautious when sharing the road with bicyclists

Bicycling can be an enjoyable recreational activity and way to get around the city. In certain locations, however, bicyclists must share roadways with motor vehicles.

Since bicycles provide significantly less protection, a motor vehicle accident involving a bicycle can result in serious and sometimes fatal injuries to the cyclist. For this very reason, drivers must be careful when sharing the road with bicycles.

A recent incident in Bergen County illustrates this point. A car accident occurred when the driver of a large SUV stopped at an intersection to allow a bicyclist to cross the intersection. After the bicycle had passed, the driver proceeded forward. However, there was a second bicyclist attempting to cross the intersection at the same time and the motorist did not notice. The vehicle struck the rider, and the bicyclist sustained leg injuries, in addition to cuts and bruises.

As with most auto accidents, liability for those involving bikes is based on the theory of negligence. Motor vehicle operators owe a duty to others on the road to exercise reasonable care in their conduct. In order to prove a driver's negligence, victims must show that the driver failed in this duty, which caused or contributed to their injuries, which caused them to suffer damages. Negligence can be shown in many ways, such as failing to obey traffic signs or drifting into a bike lane.

Bicyclists may hinder their ability to collect damages any injuries suffered if they are found to be negligent as well. Negligent conduct by a rider can be shown if they incorrectly turn into traffic or fail to obey the rules of the road themselves.

Injuries sustained in a vehicle-bicycle accident can result in a severe financial burden to victims and their families. Families can begin the process of healing through a successful civil suit. Thus, it is important that bicyclists and drivers are aware of their legal rights and responsibilities in the case of an accident that results in damages.