Attorneys at Law

Bicycle Injuries

Attorney Ryan Springer grew up riding mountain bikes throughout Utah’s canyons.  Eventually, he transitioned from mountain bikes to road cycling.  Utah offers cyclists world class terrain, whether you’re a climber, a sprinter, or just a weekend warrior, there is something for all kinds of cyclists to enjoy.

As cycling has increased in popularity as a great form of recreation, exercise and travel, automobile drivers have learned to “share the road.”  Most drivers are respectful and courteous, but there are some who are careless–or worse, deliberately aggressive.  In an auto vs. bicycle collision, the bicycle always loses.  Injuries to cyclists can be catastrophic, sometimes involving brain injuries or even wrongful death.

Ryan has the benefit of being both a lawyer and a cyclist, and if you or a loved one has been injured while riding a bicycle, you need someone who understands the legal and practical aspects of bicycle safety laws.  Ryan is familiar with the legal standards that apply to motor vehicles, including speed limits, safe following distance and proper lookout rules, turn rules, and the general duty to exercise reasonable care.

There are additional rules that are designed specifically to protect cyclists.  Utah law makes it clear that bicycles have a right to use public roads—and that people driving motor vehicles must make space for them. Utah Code 41-6a-706.5 provides: “[a]n operator of a motor vehicle may not knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly operate a motor vehicle within three feet of a moving bicycle, unless the operator of the motor vehicle operates the motor vehicle within a reasonable and safe distance of the bicycle.” (Emphasis added.)

Importantly, there are rules for cyclists as well.  Under Utah law, bicycles are vehicles and they are subject to the same traffic laws as other vehicles that people use on public roads. See Utah Code 41-6a-1102. Responsible cyclists should always follow the rules of the road. Utah law creates both exceptions and additional responsibilities for bicycle riders. Both Utah statutes and local ordinances apply to people who ride their bicycles on public roads. Most of the Utah statutes specific to bikes are found at Utah Code §§41-6a-1101 to 1114. Additionally, cities and municipalities may have their own ordinances that apply to cyclists and drivers. For instance:

  • “A person operating a bicycle … at less than the normal speed of traffic … shall ride as near as practicable to the right-hand edge of the roadway except when: (a) overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction; (b) preparing to make a left turn …; (c) traveling straight through an intersection that has a right-turn only lane that is in conflict with the straight through movement; or (d) reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand edge of the roadway …”
  • “A person riding a bicycle … on a roadway may not ride more than two abreast with another person except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.”
  • “A person operating a bicycle … shall: (a) yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian; and (b) give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian.”
  • Utah traffic laws regarding turns and turn signals apply to bicycles with some exceptions. Bicycles can make certain left turns from the far right side of the road. Also, “[a] person is not required to signal by hand and arm continuously if the hand is needed in the control or operation of the bicycle …” and “[a] person operating a bicycle … who is stopped in a lane designated for turning traffic only is not required to signal prior to making the turning movement.”
  • Your bicycle must be equipped with brakes, but must not be equipped with “a siren or whistle.” Also, for obvious reasons, lights and/or reflective devices are required on bicycles used on public roads after dark

In addition to the possible personal injury issues that may arise out of a motor vehicle/cyclist collision, there can be substantial property damage issues as well.  When a bike is damaged, it can be devastating–you can’t spend that much time in the saddle with a comrade and not forge a bond.  While the law does not recognize a cause of action for emotional distress due to the loss of a bike (yet!), it does allow for you to recover for damage to the bike.

One trick that insurance companies like to pull is to have some in-house mechanic declare that a bike frame–which can be worth thousands of dollars–is just fine after a collision, and they will refuse to compensate the cyclist.  Ryan’s familiarity with cycling technology and hardware and his close relationship with some of Utah’s finest bicycle mechanics and shop owners give him the resources and advantage to go head-to-head with insurance companies that offer lowball settlements for damaged bikes.

If you’ve been injured while riding, call attorney Ryan Springer at (801) 849-0915 for a free, no obligation consultation.