Bicyclists could face felony hit-and-run charges if they leave the scene of an accident where someone was injured or died. The Legislature proposed this bill that subjects a person operating a bicycle on a Class I bikeway* to all of the accident-related Vehicle Code provisions that apply to the driver of a vehicle on a highway. When the final bill was ordered to the Assembly, this law passed unanimously with Ayes 37, Noes 0.
OVERVIEW - Bicycle hit-and-run on bike path (AB 1755)
The provisions of the felony hit-and-run law are extended to cyclists riding on paths and bikeways. Currently, in the California Vehicle Code, a driver involved in a collision resulting in death or injury to another party is required to stop at the scene. This law clarifies that the same vehicle code also applies on Class I bikeways and allows law enforcement to hold individuals accountable for reckless behavior.
BACKGROUND from the SENATE
In June of 2017, a Sacramento runner was hospitalized with serious injuries after being hit by a bicyclist on a local bike trail. The bicyclist fled the scene, leaving the injured runner on the trail. The bicyclist did not report the accident or render assistance to the runner. Under current law, if this accident had occurred on a public roadway, the offender would have been subject to prosecution for a hit-and-run offense. However, since this accident occurred on a Class I bikeway (a trail with a completely separated right of way that is exclusively reserved for bicyclists and pedestrians), it was theorized that the bicyclist - had he or she been identified - could not been charged with hit-and-run. The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office noted at the time of the incident that their investigation was hindered because the California Vehicle Code is not clear on whether the case would qualify as a hit-and-run. While current law generally subjects bicyclists to all of the “rules of the road” and treats them in the same manner as vehicular drivers, those rules do not clearly apply to bicyclists operating on Class I bikeways. This bill removes any ambiguity about the responsibilities of bicyclists on these Class I bikeways.
*CLARIFICATION OF CLASS I BIKEWAY AND PATH
Paths are not "paved" in the cited Code section:"California Code, Streets and Highways Code - SHC § 890.4
(a) Bike paths or shared use paths, also referred to as “Class I bikeways,” which provide a completely separated right-of-way designated for the exclusive use of bicycles and pedestrians with crossflows by motorists minimized."
"AB 1755, Steinorth. Bicycle operation.
Existing law regulates the operation of bicycles and pedicabs. Existing law defines a Class I bikeway as a bike path or shared use path that provides a completely separated right-of-way designated for the exclusive use of bicycles and pedestrians. Under existing law, a person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab on a highway has all the rights prescribed in, and is subject to the requirements in, the Vehicle Code that are applicable to the driver of a vehicle.
This bill would subject a person riding a bicycle on a Class I bikeway to those rights and requirements of the Vehicle Code that apply if that person is involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of a person other than himself or herself, as specified. Because a violation of those provisions of the Vehicle Code by that person would be a crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
"The people of the state of California do enact as follows:
SECTION 1. Section 21200 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:
21200. (a) (1) A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs, and by Division 10 (commencing with Section 20000), Section 27400, Division 16.7 (commencing with Section 39000), Division 17 (commencing with Section 40000.1), and Division 18 (commencing with Section 42000), except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.
(2) A person operating a bicycle on a Class I bikeway, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle pursuant to Section 20001, except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application."
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL TEXT OF THE LAW.