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Understand the proper use of bicycle lanes and buffer zones

There are a number of road markings that New Mexico residents must be able to interpret when they are operating their motor vehicles. They must recognize the differences between solid center lines and dotted center lines, single lines and double lines, white perimeter lines and stop lines, as well as arrows, turn lane markings and others. On some roads drivers may see images that look like bicycles and those markings likely indicate the presence of bicycle lanes or bicycle buffer zones.

A bicycle lane is often located on the shoulder of a road and is separated from a driving lane by a solid line. Bicyclists should stay in those lanes to avoid encountering motorists, and drivers should avoid driving in bicycle lanes to prevent collisions with bicyclists. A bicycle buffer zone is a secondary space between a bicycle lane and a driving lane that provides even more space between the two kinds of vehicles.

A bicyclist who is legally operating their bike in the bicycle lane and taking precautions to avoid collisions may have a claim for personal injury damages if a vehicle crosses into their lane and hits them. Drivers who fail to look for bicyclists in these locations when making turns or pulling over can cause serious and even life-threatening harm to bike riders.

Not all roads have buffer zones or bicycle lanes but those that do should be used as intended. Vehicles should stay out of bike lanes unless it is necessary and when they do use bike lanes such use should be exercised with attention and care. Drivers who ignore bicycle lane markings and create hazards for others can be held liable for their negligence and sued in civil court based on the damages sustained by their bicycle-riding victims.

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The Jaffe Law Firm
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Albuquerque, NM 87102
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