As a bicyclist in Alabama you have certain rights. You also have certain responsibilities. We all share the roadways together. Bicyclists are expected to follow the same basic traffic laws as other drivers on our roadways.
While cyclists share our roads with cars and trucks, bicycles provide far less physical protection for riders. In a collision, the cyclist is far more likely to suffer a serious or fatal injury. Cyclists must always be watchful of traffic around them.Alabama Bicycle Law
How does Alabama law treat bicyclists? Let’s start with the basic principle I mentioned earlier. Generally, bicyclists are expected to follow the same traffic laws as other drivers with a few limited exceptions. Here are a few Alabama legal requirements for bicyclists:
- Cyclists are expected to follow the same basic traffic laws as other drivers, with a few exceptions. Alabama Code Section 32-5A-260.
- Cyclists under the age of 16 on a public roadway must wear a bicycle helmet. Alabama Code Section 32-5A-282.
- Cyclists must ride as close to the right side of the roadway as practicable. Alabama Code Section 32-5A-263.
- Cyclists cannot ride more than two abreast on a public roadway and must use an adjacent path if provided specifically for bicycles. Alabama Code Section 32-5A-263.
- Cyclists riding at nighttime must have a “white” headlight which can be seen by oncoming drivers from at least 500 feet away. Alabama Code Section 32-5A-265.
- Cyclists must equip their bikes with a solid “red” rear reflector visible to vehicles from all distances from 100 feet to 600 feet behind the cyclist. Alabama Code Section 32-5A-265.
What about cars trying to pass bicycles? Of course, regular Alabama laws on passing and no-passing areas apply. Plus, the following also applies:
- Motorists overtaking and passing a bicycle shall give a safe distance which “shall mean not less than 3 feet” on (a) roadways with a marked bicycle lane as well as on (b) all roadways with a speed limit of 45 miles per hour or less which does not have a double yellow line prohibiting passing. Alabama Code Section 32-5A-82.
What are the most common types of accidents involving cars and bikes? They include:
- Side Swiping Incidents. These accidents commonly occur when cars or trucks pass too closely. A car can easily side swipe the cyclist knocking him from the roadway.
- Rear-Ending The Bicycle. Most rear-end collisions involve drivers following too closely or not paying attention. It’s the same whether the car driver rear-ends a bicycle or another car. Rear end collisions could easily be avoided if all drivers kept a lookout and maintained a safe stopping distance. Many rear-end collisions are caused by distracted drivers. You can read many of our distracted driving articles on our law firm blog.
- Dooring Accidents. These accidents are much more common in busy areas with heavy traffic. In these areas, bicyclists ride closer to parked cars. Although car drivers should check before opening their doors, many do not. Instead, some drivers fling open their car door right into the path of an oncoming cylist.
- Cars Crossing In Front Of Bicycles. These accidents commonly involve a vehicle crossing into the path of a cyclist at an intersection, alley or driveway. Usually, the driver is not paying attention or did not see the cyclist. If you are a cyclist, take steps to make yourself visible to drivers around you.
- Drivers Turning Into Bicycles. These accidents typically happen at intersections. They occur when a car turns right and hits the cyclist next to it. Although car drivers may look for oncoming traffic, they often fail to look near their vehicle for bicyclists. They do not check their blind spots before making a right turn. They often do not see the bicycle rider right next to them. If you are a cyclist, be aware that drivers may not see you. Drivers may not look in your direction. Take steps to make yourself more visible and prominent to the drivers on the roadway around you.
In cars, we are protected from low-speed collisions by the vehicle itself. Additionally, cars are equipped with safety equipment such as seat belts and air bags. With bicycles, riders are much more exposed to the environment around them. Even at low speeds, cyclists can suffer devastating injuries from a collision. Our office has represented many bicycle and motorcycle drivers in Alabama who suffered severe personal injury in low-speed collisions. What are three common types of injuries suffered by cyclists?
- Head And Facial Injuries. According to research, the vast majority of fatal bicycle accidents involve head injuries. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other head traumas are a huge concern with bike accidents. In addition to traumatic brain injuries, the cyclist’s face can impact the pavement or other objects causing abrasions, bruises or fractures. Although most fatal accidents involve head trauma, many cyclists still refuse to wear proper helmets. Bicycle helmets save lives.
- Bone Fractures. Bicycle riders have very little protection from traumatic impacts. In an accident with a car, truck, or other object, a bicycle rider can suffer multiple orthopedic injuries. Fractures of arms, legs, hips or shoulders, are common. In recent years, we’ve represented a number of riders who suffered severe pelvic fractures, hip fractures and shoulder tears in serious bicycle accidents.
- Spinal Injuries And Ruptured Discs. Many of our serious personal injury cases involve ruptured spinal discs. Back and neck injuries are common in serious bicycle accidents. Cervical injuries are especially common due to the force of impacts on the rider’s head or upper body. Ruptured discs can cause chronic pain, the need for risky surgery and long-term disability for some patients. At the Blackwell Law Firm, we are experienced in working with neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, rehabilitation doctors and other specialists to document and prepare serious spinal injury cases.
If you suffer injuries in a bicycle accident, seek medical attention. Get the treatment necessary to recover. Your health should be your top priority. In Huntsville and Birmingham, we are fortunate to have many skilled surgeons and rehabilitation specialists.Living And Working Safely. Huntsville Leads in Bicycle Safety Planning
Safety involves the entire community. If you live in a city like Huntsville, your community has taken steps to make cycling safer. The City of Huntsville has developed a long-range plan for pedestrian and cyclist traffic. This plan includes multiple bike routes throughout Huntsville as well as infrastructure to encourage multi-modal transportation. The goal is to provide a safe place for people to live and work together. Drivers, pedestrians and cyclists should all be able to travel safely. Several other Alabama cities have also developed long-range plans so commuters traveling by car, bus, bike, or on foot, can all safely live and work together.Safety Tips for Alabama Cyclists
What steps can you take for safety? Here are five important safety tips:
- Wear A Helmet. Everyone should wear a proper helmet when riding a bike. Make certain your helmet fits properly and is certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Helmets save lives!
- Follow The Rules Of The Road. Remain alert. Know the traffic laws that apply to cyclists in Alabama.
- Plan To Be Seen. Through the years, our lawyers have represented many bicyclists and motorcyclists injured in accidents with cars. The biggest issue is visibility. Make certain car and truck drivers can see you.
- Be Alert. You need to hear and see everything around you. Watch for hazards. Pay attention to your environment and the traffic around you.
- Check Your Equipment. Make sure your bike is safe. Are your tires inflated properly? Are your brakes working properly? Does the bike chain run smoothly? When your equipment works properly, you are much safer.
What should you do if injured in a bicycle accident? Here are a few quick tips:
- Always carry a cell phone and personal identification when riding your bike.
- Call 911 immediately following your accident. If you are injured, ask someone else to contact law enforcement or paramedics for you.
- Make sure the police arrive and prepare an official report.
- Obtain contact information from witnesses at the scene as well as the other driver. For the other driver, make sure you obtain his insurance information. If you are hurt, have someone else get this contact information for you.
- Seek medical attention. Your health is always the number one priority. Get the treatment you need to heal. For your case, this documentation will be essential.
- Take photos of the scene, your bicycle, your helmet and your injuries.
- Never give a statement to the insurance adjuster until you have consulted with an attorney. Insurance adjusters are trained to deny or delay claims. Seek legal advice before you answer their detailed questions and before you sign their documents. On our blog, we have published several articles providing advice on dealing with insurance adjusters.
Questions about a car or bicycle accident? Questions about a personal injury? Let us know. We are happy to answer questions or discuss personal injury law. You can call or email us. Our consultations are always free and confidential. We also write and publish legal resources for Alabama consumers. We frequently publish personal injury articles on the Blackwell Law Firm blog. We also have a section of our website dedicated to some of the most frequently asked personal injury questions. We personally write all the articles and information on our website and blog so that you can have real legal advice and answers.
The Blackwell Law Firm follows a philosophy based on legal scholarship and hard work. In a world full of lawyers smiling from billboards and begging on television for clients, we’ve chosen a very different path. You will NEVER see us on a billboard. We focus on our clients. We focus on our work. We spend our time studying the law and preparing our personal injury cases.
If you want big promises, we are not the firm for you. If you want hard work and honest answers, call us. We are experienced lawyers who have prepared and tried car, truck and bike accident cases across Alabama for many years. Our goal is simple. We work hard to put your case in the best position for the maximum compensation possible. When another long-time Huntsville trial attorney was seriously injured on his bicycle a couple years ago, he called us. He could have called anyone but he called us. We prepared, tried and won his case in Madison County. We value the endorsement of local lawyers. We want to be the law firm for people who need help following a serious personal injury in Alabama. You can call us anytime with questions.