Biking has grown in popularity in recent years, which is fantastic. It is a healthy and environmentally friendly way to get around. The only downside is that biking through a city poses certain risks, and sometimes collisions between bikes and vehicles happen. The best way to avoid a dangerous collision is to learn how to ride a bike legally and safely. Below is a review of both biking laws and best practices for staying safe while getting around on two wheels:
- Always wear a helmet. Under California law, children under 17 are legally obligated to wear an approved bicycle helmet while peddling, but it is a critical safety practice for riders of all ages. If you are knocked off your bicycle, you will appreciate the extra protection.
- Do not ride on sidewalks. Bicycles are considered vehicles and are therefore held to the same laws and safety standards as cars. Bicyclists are not allowed to run red lights, and they absolutely should not be ridden on the sidewalk. Bicyclists are expected to ride with traffic and to signal all of their movements. Behaving predictably and signaling turns, slow-downs, and stops is the best way to avoid accidents.
- Use the bike lane if you are driving slower than traffic. The bike lane protects both bikers and drivers, so utilize them when they are available.
- Do not ride on freeways. Not only is this incredibly dangerous, but the California Department of Transportation prohibits it.
- Utilize the proper reflectors. Every bike in California must be outfitted with a rear red reflector, a yellow or white reflector on each pedal, and white or yellow reflectors on the front of your bike and on each side of the back of your bike. It is also recommended that bicyclists wear reflective clothing and attach a headlight to the front of the bicycle. This helps drivers to see cyclists at night when visibility isn’t as good.
- Never bike under the influence. If you are intoxicated, secure a different ride home.
- Bicyclists are legally allowed to use cell phones while riding, but it is not recommended for safety reasons. Distracted driving can lead to some significant accidents.
If you are involved in a bicycle accident, contact Karns & Karns for help and support in California.