Editor’s note: the following legal tips have been provided by Michael Stephenson of Bay Area Bicycle Law.

  1. What is the first thing a bicyclist should do if they are hit by a car?

Safety first!  Make sure you are not at risk of being run over by oncoming traffic and that your medical needs are attended to. Then, call the police to make a report and take photos of everything and everyone involved.  Be sure to obtain witness and driver contact information as often this information will not be included in the police report!  Keep a record of everything that happened and preserve any physical evidence. Most importantly, do not speak to any other person’s insurance company until you have received a free consultation with a reputable attorney.

  1. What are bicyclists’ rights in regard to taking the lane?

Section 21202 of the California Vehicle Code requires that cyclists riding upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:

  1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
  2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
  3. When reasonably necessary to avoid certain conditions.
  4. When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway or a highway, which carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of that roadway as practicable.

  1. What are some common issues that come up when you are representing a bicyclist?

It is very common that a driver who hits a cyclist will either be uninsured or else grossly underinsured, which can make it impossible for the injured cyclist to get the financial compensation to cover all of that cyclist’s needs (lost wages, deductibles, home care, pain and suffering, etc.). Thus, it is very good idea for cyclists who also have car insurance to make sure that they have as much uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as reasonably possible, to help in the event of an injury caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver. While we do not endorse any particular insurance company, most auto insurers offer this coverage and it will typically cover someone struck by a car while riding a bicycle.