With the new year comes several new bicycle laws in California. These new laws focus on safety of cyclists as well as those around them, including laws addressing helmets, hit and runs, and more. Learning about these bicycle laws can protect you as well as inform you of your rights. If you have questions after a bicycle accident, contact attorney Michael Stephenson at Los Angeles Bicycle Law. We focus on helping people who have been involved in serious bicycle crashes.
Hit-and-Run on Bike Paths
A new bicycle law in California deals with hit-and-run situations on the bike path. Assembly Bill 1755 makes it a felony for cyclists on the bike path to leave the scene of an accident if someone is dying or has been injured. This law previously addressed only cars, but the new bill extends to cyclists as well.
This means that if a bicyclist hits someone and leaves the scene, they could be charged with a crime. This crime would amount to a felony. A felony conviction can result in penalties that include time in prison and significant fines. It can also result in a permanent mark on your criminal record, which are accessible to employers, schools, and more.
This hit-and-run law was prompted by a collision that occurred on June 13, 2017. This crash involved a cyclist and a pedestrian on a levee near the American River Parkway in Sacramento. A 61-year-old man, Bill Finkbeiner, was struck by a bicycle. He fell onto his face, fracturing his skull, nose, face, hand, and left thumb. Two of his teeth were also knocked out and the backs of both hands were torn up. The cyclist who hit Finkbeiner left the scene without stopping. He was later found and was not arrested or charged with a crime. Authorities noted that the situation did not amount to a hit-and-run according to the law.
Former Assemblyman from Rancho Cucamonga, Marc Steinorth, wrote Assembly Bill 1755 in response to Bill Finkbeiner’s accident. He asserted that cyclists, as well as others, who hit someone accidentally, should be held accountable.
Helmets on Motorized Scooters
Assembly Bill 2989 addresses several new aspects of legality for motorized scooters. First, the law makes it legal for anyone 18 or older to operate a motorized scooter without a bicycle helmet. The law also allows motorized scooters to operate on Class IV and Class II bikeways. Motorized scooters may, additionally, ride on roads that have a speed limit of up to 25 mpg. Municipalities may extend this to allow motorized scooters on roads with speed limits up to 35 mph. It is illegal, however, to ride a motorized scooter on a sidewalk.
Bird, the maker of a dockless electric scooter, sponsored the bill. The company argued that forcing people to wear helmets while riding electric scooters made their use inconvenient and discouraged people from using this mode of transportation. Although Bird and other scooter companies encourage the use of helmets, they do not want them to be forced on riders.
Helmets for Children Under Age 18
For anyone who is under the age of 18, a new bicycle law in California reduces the penalties of not wearing a helmet. A helmet is required for children who ride a bicycle, scooter, skateboard, or roller skates. Anyone who did not could receive a citation with a $25 fine. In some areas that fine was as much as $200. The parent or guardian of the under 18-year-old was required to make that payment.
However, now the citation is a “fix-it ticket.” If a child is not wearing a helmet, they may be cited, but will only be required to complete a bicycle safety course. Sgt. Robert Hill of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Traffic Safety Operations explained that the fines were putting too much of a burden on parents.
According to the California Coalition for Children’s Safety and Health, the original bicycle helmet law (enacted in 1993) greatly increased the usage of helmets from 10 percent to 60 percent. Further, the Coalition indicated that police issue very few bicycle helmet citations. In fact, California only issued 100 citations for underage cyclists lacking helmets in all of 2016. Sgt. Robert Hill thinks it’s possible that these numbers will increase, but parents won’t be facing financial burden as a result.
Learn More About New Bicycle Laws in California
New bicycle laws in California have added to the safety and convenience of cyclists and other riders. But they can also impact you accident claim if you have suffered injury in a crash. Speak to an experienced bike accident attorney at Los Angeles Bicycle Law to learn more.