Can A Bicyclist Be Liable for a Bike Accident in Arizona?

Cycling is very popular in Arizona, and for good reason: temperate winter weather and a thriving outdoor culture make for often-ideal circumstances for bike riding. With more and more bikes on the road, bike accidents are becoming more common. Each year, there are a number of bicycle-related fatalities, in addition to numerous injuries.

Can cyclists be held liable for accidents involving a motor vehicle in Arizona, and are they often at fault?

Arizona law provides that a bicycle rider be subject to the same basic traffic regulations as a motor vehicle operator: A person riding a bicycle on a roadway or on a shoulder adjoining a roadway is granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 28-812). As a result, a bicycle rider is obligated to obey all traffic laws, including stopping and yielding when required, not riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs and not driving in the wrong direction.

There are other obligations on bicyclists as well. For example, a cyclist is required to have proper lighting equipment when riding between sunset and sunrise. Such lighting includes a front lamp that can be seen 500 feet in front of the bicycle, and a reflector that can be seen by car headlights between 50 and 300 feet behind the bicycle.

Of course, drivers of motor vehicles are also bound by the law, and are often the cause of accidents involving bicycles. Their larger size and blind spots often make it difficult for a motor vehicle driver to see a bicyclist without using the proper care.

A 2011 report from NPR cited a statistic based on data compiled by the State of Arizona that 56% of deaths from bicycle accidents were the fault of the motor vehicle driver. If a motor vehicle driver causes your injuries while out biking, learn your rights from a qualified bicycle accident attorney.

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