Bicycle Accidents: Understanding the Rules of the Road

Louisiana is home to numerous young people who enjoy utilizing bicycles as means of transportation. This is common in the New Orleans and Lake Charles areas, and accidents often happen. Bicycles are much smaller than motor vehicles, which makes them difficult to see. The lack of bicycle paths and wide road shoulders mean that bicycles must often share space with motor vehicles.  This in turn means that cyclists and motorists must be aware of the rules of the road. In response to this, Baggett McCall Injury Attorneys would like to provide the following useful information to help in understanding the rules of the road. Bicycle Accidents

Traffic Laws: How Do They Apply

Cyclists commonly overlook the fact that a person riding a bicycle in the state of Louisiana upon a highway of this state or even a specifically designated bike path is granted all the rights and is subject to all the responsibilities of any other vehicle operator. This means that cyclists are responsible to stop at traffic signals, ride on the correct side of the road for the direction in which they are travelling, signal when turning, and to generally observe a reasonable standard of care when riding.

Roadways and Cycling Paths

When a cyclist bikes on a roadway in the state of Louisiana they must ride as far against the right side of the road as possible. This ensures that passing vehicles have a reasonable amount of space to ensure the safety of cyclists and themselves. Cyclists must exercise care when passing stopped vehicles or vehicles moving in the same direction as the cyclist.  When a bicycle path has been provided, the cyclist must use that path and not the roadway.  The cyclist may leave the right side of the road:

  1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
  2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
  3. When reasonably necessary to avoid fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lane or any other conditions that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. For purposes of this Paragraph, a “substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
  4. When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

Road Signals

Cyclists are required to signal oncoming and following traffic with the left arm and hand as follows:

Left Turn

Hand and arm extended horizontally with the had open and the back of the hand to the rear

Right Turn

Hand and arm extended upward at the angle of forty-five degrees from shoulder or elbow, with the hand open and back of the hand to the rear

Stop or Decrease Speed

Start hand and arm extended downward at an angle of forty-five degrees from shoulder or elbow, with the hand open and the back of the hand to the rear


Children under twelve are required by law to wear helmets.  Smaller children, under 40 inches or weighing less than 40 pounds, must be in a properly secured bicycle seat to be a passenger on a bike.

At Baggett McCall, LLC, our personal injury attorneys have over 50 years of experience.  If you’ve been injured in a bicycling accident we can help get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Contact us at our Lake Charles, LA office today at (337) 478-8888.

 Bicycle Accidents

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