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On bicyclists and following the rules of the road

Most drivers have, at some point, dealt with or witnessed a bicyclist failing to obey traffic signs and signals, taking a dangerous turn, taking up an entire lane, or doing some other unsafe or illegal maneuver on the road. This can obviously be frustrating for motorists, who are justifiably concerned, not only by the prospect of getting in an accident and being held liable, but also because of the assumed presumed bravado of rule-breaking cyclists. The tension between bicyclists and motorists in many places is well known.

What is interesting is that, in some cases, bicyclists who break the law are doing so in an effort to ensure their own safety, at least according to one researcher at the University of Colorado in Denver. The problem is that, in many places, road systems are built for cars and do not accommodate cyclists as well as they could, or at all. If this is true, one important solution to the issue of cycling safety is for communities to increase infrastructure that better supports cycling. This is something Denver is doing. 

Regardless of the justifications cyclists use to break the law, it is still breaking the law. Doing so can result not only in injury and liability for the cyclists, but potentially even loss of damages in the event a negligent motorist causes an accident. We are referring here to the fact that Colorado, like many other states, recognizes that an accident victim’s damages award can be reduced if the plaintiff is found to have been partially responsible for his or her own injuries.

There are always two sides to the story when it comes to car accidents. Bicyclists do, of course, have the right to be compensated for injuries resulting from the negligence of a motorist, but they can also be held accountable for failing to abide by the rules of the road. 

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