Reduce Bicycle Accidents: New WA State Bike Rules Require Motor Vehicles to Give Cyclists 3 Feet of Space When Passing
As reported by komonews.com, new rules for bicycle safety went into effect in Washington State on January 1, 2020. The new rules were approved by Washington State lawmakers in May, 2019.
New WA State bike rules go into effect to reduce bicycle accidents
There are three components to the rule change:
- Drivers now have to give bicycle riders at least three feet of space when passing. The old rule asked drivers to pass cyclists at a “safe distance” but did not specify the distance.
- Drivers must move to the left lane (if there are two or more lanes of traffic) or into the opposing lane (if there is a single lane of traffic) to pass bicyclists on the road.
- If there is only one lane of traffic in each direction, drivers must slow down and allow at least three feet of space between their vehicle and the bicycle.
Washington fatal pedestrian and bicycle accidents doubled between 2013-2017
The new rules make sense in light of the fact that fatal pedestrian and bicycle accidents have been increasing. With so many more cyclists on the road, governments are looking for ways to increase bike safety and reduce car versus bicycle accidents.
Released in March 2018, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Active Transportation Annual Safety Report shows that Washington pedestrian and bicycle deaths doubled over four years between 2013 and 2017 with 60 deaths in 2013 and 122 in 2017 (pedestrians shouldered most of the increase in fatalities). Pedestrian and bicycle accident injuries increased by 31 percent during these years, from 351 in 2013 to 461 in 2017.
Pedestrian and bicycle accident statistics from the report:
- 85 percent of the “active transportation” crashes happened on highways (most of them major or minor arterials) with speed limits of 30 mph or higher.
- More than 59 percent of crashes happened in areas with poverty rates higher than the state average even though they represent 43 percent of the population.
- Cyclists riding on the road accounted for more than half of these fatal and serious injury crashes which caused researchers to point out the need for better transportation networks for cyclists and pedestrians.
Bicycle accidents involving a car
If you have been injured in an accident with a car while cycling, it is vital to report the accident to the police, file a police report immediately and to seek prompt medical treatment. Document and preserve the evidence from the scene of the accident if you are able and keep receipts and transcripts from all resulting medical care. You should also notify your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible but do not speak to the at-fault insurance agency or accept a settlement without first speaking with a bike accident attorney.
If you have lost a loved one or been injured through no fault of your own, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the justice and fair compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring, tireless and experienced wrongful death attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County and surrounding areas since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!