Although most pedestrian accidents due to collision involve automobiles, a large number are caused by careless bicyclists who, many believe, should be subject to the same criminal penalties as a reckless auto driver.

On March 29, 2012, a bicyclist in San Francisco reportedly ran through three red lights before entering the intersection at Castro and Market streets. By varying accounts, he either rode past a yellow light or a red light before striking and killing a man who was walking with his wife. The San Francisco District Attorney’s office charged the bicyclist with felony vehicular manslaughter, punishable by up to six years in prison.

Another case in Los Angeles on April, 2013 involved a bicyclist who drank considerably while watching a baseball game at Dodger Stadium and then took to the road on a bicycle that had been modified to remove its brakes. While pedaling on a hilly street, the cyclist veered onto the wrong side of the road to avoid a car and slammed into a woman who was out jogging. The injured pedestrian was in a coma for 10 days and suffered broken bones in her face. The cyclist’s blood alcohol level measured at more than twice the legal limit for drivers.

In the Los Angeles case, Justice Richard Aldrich stated that, although bikes are generally less likely to inflict “carnage and slaughter,” since reckless-driving law bases its punishments on the harm caused – fines for little or no damage and imprisonment for serious injuries – “ the bicyclist could be subject to the same criminal penalties as a reckless driver of a motor vehicle.”

On July 17, 2014, a Los Angeles state appeals court refused to dismiss the felony reckless-driving charge, and it will be become binding statewide unless overturned on appeal.


Ehline, Michael. “Bicycle Lawyers Los Angeles.” Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. April 09, 2017. Accessed May 11, 2017.

Author: Rizk Law

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