It is the time of year in Arizona when we remember why we put up with grueling heat all summer. It is cooling down and we all know what that means, we can finally head outside and enjoy the outdoors. As we dust off our bicycles and inflate the tires we should take a moment to think about safety. At our personal injury law firm we encounter cyclist and motor vehicle collisions often. Both as a driver of a vehicle and as a cyclist it is important to be cautious and share the road. Arizona state law mandates that cyclists on the roadway have the same rights and responsibilities as a motor vehicle under A.R.S. §28-812 Applicability of traffic laws to bicycle riders.
According to the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety, in 2009 there were over 2,000 bicycle crashes resulting in 1,650 injuries and 25 fatalities. Most crashes occur in an intersection, generally with the motor vehicle at fault for not yielding the right-of-way to a cyclist. In order to prevent these sorts of accidents it is imperative that both driver and cyclist obey the rules of the road.
As a cyclist you must:
- stop for all traffic signals and stop signs,
- use a white headlight and rear red light after dusk and before dawn,
- stay as close to the right edge of the road except to avoid dangerous conditions, such as debris or a parked car, and when making a left-hand turn,
- yield to all pedestrians, and
- both look behind to check for vehicles and signal when planning to change lanes or turn.
As a motor vehicle driver you must:
- exercise due care when overtaking a bicycle and leave no less than 3 feet between your vehicle and the cyclist,
- use due caution when opening car doors to avoid a crash, and
- treat a cyclist riding on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk as a pedestrian and yield the right-of-way.
In Arizona a bicycle may be ridden on a sidewalk and through a crosswalk. It is the responsibility of a cyclist to yield to a pedestrian and a motorist to yield to a cyclist on the sidewalk or crosswalk. Whether a cyclist must ride with traffic is sometimes regulated by each city and the rules vary. In Phoenix, for example, a cyclist may ride in either direction with or against traffic. In Tempe, however, a cyclist must ride in the same direction as traffic.
Take advantage of this beautiful time of year and happy cycling. For more bicycle safety tips visit http://www.azgohs.gov/transportation-safety/default.asp?ID=16 .