When it comes to hit-and-run pedestrian accidents, most often we think of an incident involving a vehicle. However, a new California law, which goes into effect with the new year, makes it a crime for a bicyclist to hit a pedestrian while on a bike path and flee the scene.
According to the Daily Bulletin, the law already applied to cyclist/pedestrian accidents on the road, but is now expanded to cover accidents on bike paths as well. Under the new law, “a bicyclist who strikes a pedestrian on a bike path causing injuries or death will now have to stay put, helping the injured person if possible and waiting for police” or else face criminal charges like a hit-and run motorist would face.
The new law was encouraged after several incidents of cyclist/pedestrian accidents along bike paths—pedestrians were hit and left injured on the path, while the cyclist rode away with no legal consequences to prevent them from doing so. One example was 61-year-old Bill Finbeiner who was hit by a bicyclist while walking along a path. He suffered “a fractured skull, a broken nose, facial fractures, a broken left hand and a broken left thumb, in addition to having two teeth knocked out and the back of both hands torn up.” However, it wasn’t a crime to hit someone and leave, so the cyclist rode away.