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As bicycles become an increasingly popular mode of transportation in North and South Carolina with increased city living and the numerous bike-sharing resources, injuries while riding a bicycle are also growing.
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Bicycle Injuries are Increasing
Many motorists believe that bicyclists on the road are second-class citizens. However, they have the same rights and protections as any other vehicle on the road. Because bicycles operate differently from cars, trucks, and motorcycles, some differences are essential for both motorists and cyclists to know.
A bicycle is a vehicle under North Carolina law. The laws that control vehicles, including red lights, stop signs, and driving under the influence, apply equally to bicycles. What is very different is that there is much flexibility on where you may ride a bike.
Inconsistent Bicycle Ordinances Lead to Confusion
Cities are permitted to make laws and ordinances that control their roads. These laws can vary from place to place. You may not ride on fully controlled-access highways, such as interstates if you are riding on the road. Also, you must ride with the flow of traffic.
There is no North Carolina statute controlling whether you may ride a bicycle on a sidewalk. Some cities have provided bike lanes which are up to the rider if they wish to use them. However, local laws will decide if they are required to use that lane.
In Charlotte, for instance, you may not ride a bicycle on a sidewalk in some regions of the city, primarily located around “downtown.” Still, outside that area, you may ride them on the sidewalk.
However, Charleston, South Carolina, does not allow bicycles riding on the sidewalk at any time. Whereas Hickory, North Carolina requires cyclists to use a bike lane if possible. If there is not one, they are welcome to ride either on the road or the sidewalk. If you need to know if your city or town has required bike lanes or allows sidewalk riding, please consult www.municode.com and search your area.
Often, there is a disconnect between cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists. It can be confusing to determine who has the right of way because a cyclist can be both a pedestrian and a motorist at different times. If you are on the road, you are a vehicle, and you must follow the applicable laws. However, a vehicle emerging from an alley, building entrance, private road, or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian or person riding a bicycle approaching on any sidewalk or walkway.
A cyclist must be aware of which role they are occupying and make sure they follow those rules.
Injuries from a bicycle collision can vary greatly. Unlike in a car, there is nothing between the cyclist’s body and the road. This can result in road rash, blunt force trauma, broken bones, and even death. Also, unlike in a car, these injuries can result from seemingly minor collisions.
People are often unsure who has the right of way on a bicycle. This and a stigma motorists have against cyclists on the road often create issues when determining fault. Knowing the law is just the first step. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor know the law that protects you as a cyclist and have the experience to explain that law and tell your story to the jury to best advocate for you.
With offices located in Charlotte, Hickory and Greenville, North Carolina, and Columbia and Rock Hill, South Carolina, we are here to protect you from the mountains to the beach.
If you are injured in a collision when riding a bicycle, don’t let the insurance company tell you that you assumed the risk. Speak with an attorney who knows the law surrounding bikes and how to fight to make you whole.
Contact our Personal Injury Attorneys
Contact us today to speak with one of our Charlotte, Hickory, Greenville, Rock Hill, or Columbia attorneys.
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