There’s little question that pedestrians and cyclists are at a marked disadvantage in the event of a motor vehicle collision. Those in vehicles have the structure of the vehicle itself to protect them if a crash occurs, as well as the additional protection of safety restraints.
Unfortunately, no such protections exist for cyclists or pedestrians. Their primary protection comes from the law, as those in motor vehicles are often liable if they strike pedestrians and cyclists. There have been some changes made to California traffic laws in recent years in the hopes of limiting the number of crashes that occur, especially deadly collisions involving pedestrians and cyclists.
A new intersection rule may benefit cyclists
California has begun to implement a new system at intersections to help protect pedestrians. Specifically, certain intersections may now offer a brief opportunity when lights change for pedestrians to cross an intersection without any vehicles passing through the intersection. As of January 1st, 2024, cyclists can utilize the Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) at intersections. If the pedestrian approaching can cross an intersection or turn but vehicles cannot, bicycles can also cross or turn during the time allocated for pedestrian maneuvers.
Certain intersections where pedestrians or cyclists are present must give those parties additional time in the form of an LPI to cross before changing the signal for motor vehicles. The LPI may last for anywhere from three to seven seconds. While that may not seem like much time, it can make a major difference for a pedestrian or cyclist trying to cross the road without a vehicle endangering them.
Cyclists at intersections may also be able to use that additional time to enter and pass through the intersection without worrying about negligent drivers hitting them. Given that many intersection crashes involving cyclists occur because drivers don’t properly monitor for them, the opportunity to turn or pass through an intersection before motor vehicles can do the same could potentially save the lives of California cyclists.
Tracking changes to California traffic laws may help people better utilize new systems put in place for their protection.