Schools are beginning to open back up for in-person learning this month, so it’s a great time to review the basics of road safety for our kids (and ourselves), especially for those biking or walking to school - look both ways, make sure no cars are coming or that you can safely cross before one does. We know that drivers are required to exercise care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian on any roadway. However, there are some duties and laws that pedestrians and bicyclists are expected to follow that are lesser known.
· Did you know that pedestrians are required to walk on the sidewalk if one is provided? A.R.S. § 28-796(A) states, “If sidewalks are provided, a pedestrian shall not walk along and on an adjacent roadway.”
· If sidewalks are not provided, then pedestrians can walk on the roadway, but which side should they be walking on? According to A.R.S. § 28-796(B), pedestrians “shall walk when practicable only on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic that may approach from the opposite direction,” presumably to maximize their view of potential oncoming hazards.
· Alternatively, bicyclists are expected to follow the same general rules and duties as vehicle drivers. (A.R.S. § 28-812(A)). Bicyclists are expected to ride “as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.” The statute lists four situations where it may not be practicable to ride close to the right curb or edge:
o 1. When passing another bike or vehicle
o 2. When preparing to turn left at an intersection
o 3. To avoid objects or hazards, or
o 4. Where the lane is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side
These laws are important to follow not only for everyone’s safety, but also to avoid being found partially or fully liable if an accident occurs.
Imagine that you are riding your bicycle home when a car pulls out of a neighborhood and slams into you. The police arrive and take statements from you and the driver before you are driven to the hospital to get examined. As you are attempting to recover from your injuries and figure out how to get your bike fixed or replaced, you hear from the driver’s insurance company that they are only accepting partial liability because it was discovered that you were riding your bike on the left side of the road. Because the statute requires you to ride your bike on the right side of the road, and because the driver was expecting that any bicyclists would only be on the right side of the road, your violation of the statute is now giving the insurance company ammunition to find that you are partially at fault for someone else hitting you. This means that any medical treatment you may receive for the injuries you have might only be partially paid by the driver’s insurance company, and you would be responsible for the rest.
Don’t let this happen to you. Make sure you are aware of and understand the laws applicable to the activities you are participating in. Remember:
· If you are a pedestrian, walk on the sidewalk. If there is not a sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road.
· If you are a bicyclist, ride on the right side of the road as close to the curb as possible.
If you are involved in a bike accident or have suffered a pedestrian injury, it is best to immediately contact an attorney to determine the next steps you should take and what information you should record and preserve.
This article should be used for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader. If you need legal advice regarding these issues, please feel free to contact me at 480-450-0626, or contact an attorney in your area.