Nobody Wants Their Tombstone to Read: “This Bicyclist Had The Right of Way”

Spring is finally here, which means bicyclists are on the roads again for exercise and recreation. This year, there actually may be more cyclists due to the COVID 19 health pandemic. As more COVID 19 restrictions are lifted, many motorists will once again be sharing the roads with bicyclists. It is important to review some of the rules and rights for bicyclists.

First, bicyclists have the same rights and duties as a motor vehicle operator, they must follow the rules of the road. Bicyclists must stop at all stop lights, stop signs, and yield to pedestrians. They should signal to other traffic before making turns. They can ride two abreast, so long as they are not impeding traffic, but when the road is narrow bicyclists must ride in single file.

Second, New Hampshire law does require that cyclists stay to the right side of the road, but a cyclist does not have to remain there—especially if there are pot-holes, debris, unsafe storm drains, or any other obstructions in his or her way. If there is an issue with the right side of the road, then a bicyclist can merge with traffic to enter a turn lane. Just because there is a bike lane, it doesn’t mean that a bicyclist has to remain in it.

Third, although a helmet is not required for any bicyclist over 16 years of age it is a very good idea to wear one as bike verses car collisions are bound to happen. And when these collisions occur, they usually result in serious bodily injury or even death to the bicyclist. If you are a bicyclist who is struck by a car it is important to follow these steps: 1. Make sure the police are called. Police officers will generally interview witnesses and take photographs. If the motorist is at fault, the officer will also assign them a citation and note it in the report. 2. Make sure that the scene is preserved. Do not let anyone move your bike and do not let the motorist move their car. Do everything you can to ensure a photograph is taken of the scene in case there is a liability dispute—because there often will be. Ask the responding officer to take photographs. 3. Go to the hospital. Even if you do not think you are injured, when the adrenaline wears off you might find that you have suffered more injuries than you realize. It is important to seek immediate medical treatment, both for yourself and to avoid insurance adjusters claiming that you weren’t injured in the collision. When you are home and healing: 4. Take photographs of your broken bike, helmet, torn clothing, and your injuries. You are entitled to be paid for any property that is damaged. 5. Contact an attorney. If you have been injured while riding your bike due to the negligence of a motorist, contact me, Attorney Smith for a free consultation. I can help you manage your claim so you can focus on healing. I can help preserve evidence, contact witnesses, and make sure that you are fairly compensated for your injuries. Finally, remember that you, as a bicyclist, are a vulnerable road user. While you have the right to be on the road, it is important to ride with vigilance and caution. Nobody wants to have your tombstone state, “He had the right of way.”

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