Bicycling Safely In Connecticut
Bike accidents can easily result in serious personal injury, or even death. When bicycles and cars share the road, it is important that rides and drivers know state laws around bicycling safely in Connecticut. Find out what you should know whether you are on two wheels or four.
Tune Up Your Bicycle Habits to Prevent Bike Accidents
During the warmer months, Connecticut residents and visitors love to hit the road and see all the state has to offer. For many, taking a bicycle on a road trip, or even using a bike for their daily commute can be a great way to get physical exercise, slow down, and enjoy Connecticut’s natural environment.
Unfortunately, small, lightweight bicycles are also vulnerable to serious bicycle accidents. When a car hits a bicycle, even at slower roadway speeds, it can cause broken bones, serious personal injury, brain injury, or even death. It is important to know Connecticut bicycle safety laws before you head out, so you can protect yourself and your family from injuries on the road.
Should You Ride on the Road or the Sidewalk?
Cyclists and parents often wonder if it is safer to ride on the road or the sidewalk. You are legally allowed to do either in Connecticut. However, the laws are different depending on where you are riding.
Connecticut Laws for Road Biking
When cyclists are on the road, they have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. They must:
- Stop for red lights and stop signs
- Signal turns with hand signals or mechanical signals
- Ride with traffic in the right lane or a bike lane unless turning left, avoiding an obstruction, passing another vehicle, or riding straight past a right-turn lane
- Ride no more than two-abreast in the lane
When sharing the road with cyclists, drivers share the responsibility to protect bikers’ safety. Motorists are required to leave 3 feet of distance when passing a bicyclist, and must avoid impeding the travel of a cyclist when turning in front of them. If there isn’t room for a vehicle to safely pass a bicyclist, the rider is allowed to occupy the lane to prevent the car from passing too closely.
Safety Rules on Connecticut Sidewalks
As a state law, bikes can ride on sidewalks. When they do so, they have all the same rights and responsibilities as other pedestrians. They also must give foot traffic the right of way and announce when they are approaching a pedestrian by calling out or using a bell or horn. However, local ordinances can ban biking on the sidewalk. Before you go riding downtown, make sure you know the local rules.
Get the Right Gear to Bicycle Safely in Connecticut
Bicycle safety isn’t just about following the rules on the road itself. You should do some preparation before you head out to make sure you have the right gear for your ride.
Connecticut Helmet Laws
Connecticut law requires helmets for all children under the age of 16. Parents can’t waive this safety requirement or give their kids permission to ride without a helmet. Older teens and adults are not legally required to ride with helmets. However, it is still a good idea. Wearing a helmet can substantially reduce the chance of serious injury from a low-speed crash, and can protect you if you are in a bicycle accident. It also models good biking habits for the children you might ride with.
Night Riding Lights and Reflectors
Connecticut law also says that if you are riding at night or in low light conditions, you must have lights and reflectors on your bike or your person to improve visibility. Specifically, your bike must have a white front lamp visible from at least 500 feet, and rear and side reflectors visible from at least 600 feet. While you’re gearing up, make sure to have your brakes checked. The law says you need to be able to stop within 25 feet when traveling at 10 miles per hour on drive, level, clean pavement.
How Connecticut’s Vulnerable User Law Can Help Your Bicycle Accident Case
Even when you are doing everything right, sometimes accidents happen. In 2014, Connecticut passed the Vulnerable User Law. This law says that any motorist who fails to use reasonable care and causes serious physical injury or death to a cyclist, pedestrian, or other vulnerable user on a public road can be fined up to $1,000. That may not sound like much, but that fine opens the door for a Connecticut bicycle accident attorney to sue to recover other damages including medical bills and pain and suffering.
Bicycle accidents in Connecticut are based on theories of negligence and recklessness. In both cases, recovering damages depends on the injured cyclist’s ability to show the driver wasn’t meeting his or her duty to drive safely and the accident was the result. Many drivers defend against a personal injury bicycle accident lawsuit by saying it was the cyclist who was negligent, not them.
That’s where the Vulnerable User Act comes in. In order for that fine to be imposed, a criminal court will have to determine that the motorist failed to exercise reasonable care, and that the cyclist was using reasonable care themself. The prosecuting attorney may introduce expert accident reconstruction, police testimony, and other evidence not easily accessible to the cyclist. Once that is done, and the fine has been imposed, your personal injury lawyer can use that evidence and the determination in civil court to prove that the motorist, and not the cyclist, was responsible for the accident. That will make it easier to prove your case and collect your damages.
When motorists ignore bicycling safety in Connecticut, it can result in serious and sometimes permanent injuries. At The Lebedevitch Law Firm, our Connecticut bicycle accident injury attorneys have decades of experience helping injured motorists and cyclists recover after a car crash. We can help you understand the laws and use them to help prove your case. Contact The Lebedevitch Law Firm today to schedule your free consultation.