In the Bay Area, bike ridership is increasing annually in part because of efforts by the major cities—San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland—and because of increasing popularity. In the cities, many commuters have turned to cycling as a means of getting to and from work. In 2016, San Francisco was named the second friendliest city for cyclists. There are over 1,200 miles of bike lanes on the Bay Area streets, and in almost all cities in the area there are plans to install more.
Delivery Trucks and Parking
Many of the bike lanes are in downtown areas that contain storefronts and other businesses that accept deliveries. This poses a natural conflict as many of the bike lanes are parallel to the streets that contain these businesses. When FedEx, UPS and other delivery trucks park in front of a business to make deliveries, it often is right over the bike lane forcing riders out of the lane.
According to California law, obstruction of a bike lane by a vehicle is unlawful. This means that the following is prohibited:
- Pedestrians standing
- Parked bikes
- Parked motor vehicles of any kind (including delivery trucks)
- Any other obstruction thatimpedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist.
However, the following is exempted:
- Garbage trucks
- Utility vehicles
- Newspaper delivery bikes or vehicles
- Tow trucks
FedEx, UPS and other delivery trucks are not exempt and can receive a fine if parked in the bike lanes. But this doesn’t stop all of them.
Common Accidents Involving Parked Delivery Trucks and Bikes
- Distracted biking: Cyclists texting and using phone and not watching the lane.
- “Dooring”: When a driver of a vehicle with a swing-out door opens the door, and a cyclist runs into the door. Many trucks have sliding side doors, but often the back door can swing open into the bike lane.
- Truck turning into cyclist to park in bike lane: There are many blind spots on a delivery truck, and when they enter a bike lane to park, they often don’t see the cyclist.
- Collisions with pedestrians: Delivery drivers add to the pedestrian traffic in a bike lane and this often ends with a cyclist colliding with a delivery driver.
Fault in Biking Lane Parking Collisions
The law prohibits most vehicles, including FedEx and other delivery trucks, to park in a designated bike lane even for when making their deliveries. However, under California law, when a cyclist runs into a vehicle illegally parked, it doesn’t mean that the driver of that vehicle is automatically at fault.
In a lawsuit brought for personal injury, the cyclist must prove that the driver of the illegally parked vehicle is negligent. California law states that proof of a vehicle code infraction does not confer civil negligence on the driver. This means that negligence must be proven in civil court.
To prove negligence, the cyclist must show that the driver broke his or her duty to reasonably operate (in this case, park) their vehicle in a manner that others can proceed in safety. So the question will be whether parking in the bike lane was an unreasonable risk to the cyclists.
This means that the court must rule that by parking a delivery truck in the bike lane, the driver acted unreasonably and put the cyclists at risk of bodily injury.
What are the Cyclists Responsibilities?
Each cyclist is under the same duty to act reasonably when operating his or her bike on the streets of the city. This means that distracted driving, impaired driving, excessive speed or any conduct that might help in causing the wreck, will work to lower or even eliminate any claims against the driver.
California, like most states, is a comparative fault state which means that negligence will be apportioned to both parties, and then each party is responsible for the injuries up to that percentage. For example, if the delivery driver was 70 percent negligent, then the delivery company would owe 70 percent of the damages to the injured cyclist.
What Do I Do if I’m Injured by a FedEx Truck?
Never give a statement of any kind to the opposing insurance company. It will only try to use it against you in the future. Talk with us first. Take pictures and keep all evidence like bent bicycles or parts, etc. This may help prove negligence on the other person.
If you were injured by a FedEx truck while walking or on a bicycle in the Bay Area or anywhere else in California, contact us for a free consultation.