New State Laws Aim to Provide California’s Pedestrians and Bicyclists with Greater Protection on the Roads

New State Laws Aim to Provide California’s Pedestrians and Bicyclists with Greater Protection on the Roads

When a vehicle collides with a bicyclist or a pedestrian, the latter is massively outweighed and afforded virtually no bodily protection from the forces in play. These mechanical realities mean that many pedestrian and bicycle accidents involve serious or fatal injuries. In 2021, more than 10,000 pedestrians were injured in accidents and an additional 1,100+ died in collisions with vehicles. That latter figure represented over one-quarter of all California traffic deaths. When you are injured while using the roads on foot or aboard a bicycle, you should work with an experienced Santa Barbara pedestrian accident lawyer to ensure that you’re optimizing your opportunity to get justice and recover all the compensation the law says you should receive.

The California legislature has taken positive steps recently to afford pedestrians and bicyclists greater safety on the road.

New State Laws Aim to Provide California’s Pedestrians and Bicyclists with Greater Protection on the Roads

Last fall, the legislature passed Assembly Bill 413, which expands parking restrictions near crosswalks. The new law became effective on Jan. 1 of this year and says drivers may not park their vehicles within 20 feet of a crosswalk. The law, codified as California Vehicle Code Section 22500(n), applies equally to marked and unmarked crosswalks. The minimum is 15 feet if the crosswalk has a curb extension.

The new law aims to provide pedestrians and drivers of moving vehicles with improved sightlines and an enhanced opportunity to see one another. Specifically, the new law intends to give drivers a better view of the crosswalk area and allow pedestrians to judge the safety of crossing without stepping into the street to do so.    

AB 1909: How a New Safety Law Protects Bicyclists

Another bill from last year has enshrined protections for a different group – bicyclists. Assembly Bill 1909 allows bicyclists at crosswalks to cross when the pedestrian signal displays a lit “WALK” command or image unless the area has a separate signal specifically for bicyclists. In the past, the law commanded bicyclists to stop or go based on the traffic signals for vehicle traffic, forcing bicyclists to wait for a green light.

The key to this enhancement is another (slightly less) recent change designed to assist pedestrians. In 2022, Governor Newsom signed a bill mandating that new pedestrian signals at all state-controlled intersections give pedestrians a three-to-seven-second head start. In other words, pedestrians get 3-7 seconds of “WALK” before drivers get a green light.

The concept is known as leading pedestrian initiative or LPI. The concept behind LPI is that giving pedestrians this head start makes them more readily visible to drivers, particularly drivers executing turns. With AB 1909 becoming law, bicyclists now have the same LPI advantage as pedestrians, meaning they will benefit from the 3-7 second head start and the increased visibility it affords.

These new laws implicitly point to some important concepts related to bicycle and pedestrian accidents. One in particular is that a pedestrian or bicycle accident occurring at an intersection may involve multiple responsible parties. The driver who hit you may have negligently failed to yield the right of way, creating the possibility that they are negligent. However, the way the intersection itself was designed, configured, and maintained may also have played a role, creating obstructed views and limited sight lines so bad as to qualify as unreasonably dangerous. If that is the case, you may be entitled to compensation from the entity (or entities) responsible for the intersection’s design, construction, and maintenance.     

Pedestrians and Bicyclists Safety law

Determining exactly what happened, why it happened, and who was responsible is an essential part of getting justice for the injuries you suffered in your bicycle or pedestrian accident. Doing so requires many steps, from investigating the crash to seeking information from potentially liable parties. And that’s just the start. If you’ve suffered harm in one of these accidents while on foot, count on the knowledgeable Santa Barbara pedestrian/bicycle accident attorneys at the law firm of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP to help. Our team has the skill and experience necessary to provide you with the effective advocacy you deserve. Contact us at 805-617-1365 or through our website to get a free case consultation today.

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