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Bicycling Law 101

Did you know bicycles are considered “vehicles” in the state of Washington?

Car accident

Cycling Law 101

Every cyclist enjoys all the rights and is subject to all the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle, with some exceptions.

In other words, cyclists must follow the “rules of the road." However, there are laws applicable to cyclists that do not apply to motorists. The cycling-specific laws are found in RCW 46.61.750-991.

Below are a few examples:

  • Cyclists may ride on the roadway or the shoulder, whichever the cyclist deems safer.
  • Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
  • A white front light visible from 500 feet away and a red rear reflector are required at night.
  • A red rear light may be used in addition to the red reflector.
  • Cyclists are required to use hand signals.

Collisions happen. Here's what to do:

Even with proper safety precautions, sometimes collisions happen. What should you do if you are hit by a vehicle? The checklist below outlines some important information to obtain.

  • Find out who hit you Get the driver's name, address, telephone number, automobile insurer and policy number. If the driver doesn't stop, try to get the driver's license plate number, or at least the make, model, and color of the vehicle.
  • Call the police When calling the police, request that an ambulance be sent to the scene if you know you are injured. Calling the police also ensures that the collision is properly documented. Additionally, the driver may end up with a well-deserved traffic citation.
  • Get treatment If you are injured or think you are injured, you should make sure to see a medical provider as soon as possible.
  • Take photographs If you have visible injuries, take photographs right away. If you incurred property damage, take photographs of all the damaged property: your bike, helmet, gloves, bags, etc.
  • Contact an attorney Almost all personal injury attorneys offer a free initial consultation. You can meet with an attorney (or consult over the phone) and then decide whether you prefer to have the attorney represent you, or wether you prefer to go it alone.

Insurance and bicycle collisions

Washington law requires motor vehicle drivers to carry insurance. Depending on the facts, the driver's insurance may ultimately pay for your property damage, your wage loss, your medical treatment, your pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, and for any residual symptoms you may be left with as a result of your injuries.

You should discuss your claim with a personal injury attorney before contacting the driver's insurance company. If you retain an attorney, the attorney will contact the driver's insurance company for you and will handle all of your claims.

If you choose not to retain an attorney, then you should promptly contact the driver's insurance company. When contacting the insurance company, keep the following in mind:

  • You do not have to consent to a recorded statement.
  • You do not have to sign a release in exchange for settling your property damage claim.
  • You should not sign a release to settle your liability/bodily injury claim until you complete your medical treatment and your prognosis is reasonably clear.

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