Are Bicycle Accidents Common in Louisiana?

Louisiana is commonly referred to as ‘The Sportsman’s Paradise.’ Louisiana also routinely ranks in the top five most dangerous states for bicyclists. In the year 2021, Louisiana saw a decrease in bicycle accident fatalities, but those numbers were still extreme. One death is ultimately too many, and Louisiana saw 35 bicycle accident fatalities in 2021, as well as more than 500 bicycle accident injuries.

At least part of the reason why there are so many bicycle accidents in Louisiana or any other state is that both cyclists and motorists are largely unaware of bicycle laws in their respective states. Additionally, many motorists are simply unaware of the bicyclists themselves, and several accidents occur where the cyclist was never seen before they were struck by a car.

What Are the Laws that Bicyclists Must Abide by in Louisiana?

It is important to familiarize yourself with bicycle laws before sharing the roadways with motorists. Many bicycle safety laws were written expressly to protect cyclists from severe injuries and death. Familiarizing yourself with Louisiana bike laws could help save a life.

Do Bikers Need to Wear Helmets?

Louisiana law requires that anyone under the age of 12 is required to wear an adequate and properly adorned safety helmet. This requirement applies whether they are the cyclist themselves or a passenger on the bike.

There is no statewide law on bike helmets for adults in Louisiana, though this may differ from city to city.

Regardless of the requirement for an adult to wear a bicycle helmet when riding on the road, it is strongly recommended that they do so for their own personal safety. Statistics show that the use of proper safety equipment is paramount in saving lives and that the failure to wear such equipment is a common contributing factor in bicycle crash fatalities.

Can You Ride Your Bike on the Right Shoulder of the Roadway?

Generally speaking, the law wants bikers to ride on the far right side of the road at all times. This allowance extends to the right shoulder of the road, which is not usually afforded to other vehicles in motion.

Bikers may move out of the right side of the road in order to pass another cyclist, avoid road debris, or make a left-hand turn. Additionally, cyclists are allowed to ride on the left side of the road, provided that it is a one-way street.

Do You Know the Proper Hand Signals?

Motorists should use proper turn signals to alert other drivers of their intention to make turns or stay on course in their lane. Similarly, a cyclist should provide proper hand signals to notify others on the road of their intention to make a turn. Failure to provide proper notice of intended turns could result in catastrophic accidents.

To signal a left turn, a biker should extend their left arm horizontally with the hand open and the back of their hand pointed behind them. The same signal applies when pulling away from a curb.

To perform a hand signal for turns to the right, a cyclist should hold their arm extended upward at an angle of 45° at the elbow. The hand should be open with the back of the hand pointed behind the bicyclist. Alternatively, a cyclist may extend their right arm horizontally with the hand open and the back of the hand pointed at the rear.

When stopping or decreasing speed, the hand signal is the extension of an arm at a downward angle with the hand open.
If their hand or arm is needed to operate the bicycle, the cyclist may not be required to perform these signals.

Can You Ride with Children Sharing Your Bike?

Children over the age of five can share the bicycle with you and ride as a passenger. However, certain restrictions apply. For example, the child must be fitted with a proper bicycle helmet, and they must be seated in a seat. If there is not an additional safety seat or a passenger seat designed for two people, a child cannot ride with you as a passenger. It is against the law for children to ride clinging to the back of an adult cyclist.

Regardless of their age, children weighing less than 40 pounds or measuring less than 40 inches tall cannot ride as passengers on your bike.

Can Bicyclists Rider on Sidewalks?

State law does not allow for cyclists to ride their bikes on the sidewalks. The sidewalks are intended for pedestrians only. However, this does not stop many cyclists, who ride their bikes on the sidewalks anyway.

Some city ordinances may differ from state law. However, New Orleans does not allow bikers on sidewalks, and neither does Baton Rouge.

Are E-Bike Laws Different from Other Bicycle Laws in Louisiana?

E-bikes are not held to the same laws as bicycles. A typical E-bike is regarded as a motorized bicycle.

Some of the differing laws for E-bikes compared to non-motorized bicycles include the fact that E-bike riders must wear helmets regardless of their age. In order to ride an E-bike, the rider must be at least 12 years old unless the E-bike is expressly designed for younger and smaller riders. The law on E-bikes is always changing, as these are relatively new vehicles on the road. To keep up to date with E-bike laws in Louisiana, please contact an attorney.

What is the Dooring Law?

Many bicycle accidents happen when a motorist opens their car door without looking, and a bicyclist slams into the door, potentially throwing them over the door or through the window. These accidents can cause serious injuries or even death.

In Louisiana, it is against the law to open a car door without first checking to see that there are no bicyclists attempting to pass your parked vehicle. Remember, cyclists are instructed to ride on the far right side of the road, so this is the door that you need to be especially careful not to open without first making sure the coast is clear.

Is a Bicycle Treated as a Vehicle?

Some states regard bicyclists as pedestrians. Not Louisiana. Under Louisiana law, bicycles are considered vehicles just like any car or truck they share the road with.
As they are considered vehicles, bicycles must follow the rules of the road that apply to other vehicles, such as the need to respect traffic laws, red lights and green lights, yield signs, and more.

Do Louisiana’s Drunk Driving Laws Apply to Cyclists?

DUI laws do not apply to bicyclists in Louisiana. That said, riding a bicycle while drunk could result in the bike rider being charged with public intoxication. Also, riding a bicycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs may slow your reaction speed and make you more vulnerable to the potential for accidents.

Schedule a Free Case Review with Our Personal Injury Law Firm Today

To defend your legal rights in a bicycle accident claim, it is strongly recommended that you seek professional legal counsel. The Babcock Injury Lawyers firm has years of experience representing vehicle accidents, including violent bicycle crashes. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation. (225) 258-2881.