Riding a bike is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. The number of bicyclists rose to almost 53 million people in 2020 alone. The West Coast is one of the most popular areas for biking. Particularly, the state of California is a cyclist’s dream, because of the mild climate, sunny weather, and beautiful landscape.
However, although a lot of cyclists enjoy riding here, many of them are unaware of the laws governing bicycle riding on public streets. Many cyclists would be surprised to learn that they could be breaking the law every time they go for a ride. If you’re wondering why a free-spirited activity like cycling requires laws, it’s for the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians.
So, while you may be able to use the same roads as motor vehicles, a cyclist cannot pick and choose which laws to follow. In general, cyclists in California have the same responsibilities as other drivers and must follow the same traffic laws, such as yielding to pedestrians and obeying traffic signs and lights.
Recently, the state of California decided to introduce the Vision Zero plan to lower the number of fatal accidents involving bicycles or pedestrians to zero. For example, the Santa Monica bicycle accident statistics show that the number of accidents has decreased, but there are still things that can be improved. Following bicycle laws is essential, as they will ensure your safety on the road.
In this article, we will highlight the most essential bicycle safety laws in California.
Always use the bike lane
You must use the bike lane if you are riding on a road with a bike lane and moving slower than traffic. You may exit the bike lane once you have determined that it is reasonably safe to do so and have given the appropriate signal.
Making a left turn, passing another bicyclist, avoiding a pedestrian or car in the bike lane, and approaching a place where a right turn is authorized are examples of when you can leave the bike lane as presented in the California Vehicle Code. Additionally, it is illegal for a bicyclist to park or stop in a bike lane unless they stop at a traffic light or a stop sign.
You must ride on the right side of the road
Bicyclists riding on public streets must ride in the direction of the traffic rather than against it and stay on the right side of the road as close as possible to the curb or cars parked along the curb.
The exceptions to this rule include when preparing to make a left turn to avoid objects in your path or passing another bicyclist or motor vehicle. However, you can ride on the left side of a one-way street.
Riding a well-equipped bike should be your number one priority. The law in California clearly states that all bikes need proper equipment with working brakes, lights, reflectors, and handlebars. Many cyclists are surprised to learn that riding a bike on a public street with handlebars that require them to hold on above the level of their shoulders is illegal. In addition, bikers must always keep at least one hand on the handlebars.
Furthermore, if you intend to ride a bike on a roadway or sidewalk after dark, the law requires you to use both a headlamp and reflectors. The front of the bike must have a white light and be visible from 900 feet away. On the back part of the bike, there should be a red reflector with light visible from 1600 feet away. If the bicycle does not have reflective tires, a white or yellow reflector on each side of the bike and a white or red reflector on each side of the rear and center of the bike are mandatory. Make sure you are safe during those night rides.
Don’t use cell phones
Cycling while distracted is extremely dangerous since it makes it difficult to react appropriately to road hazards. Riding a bike and using a cell phone is illegal, as it is essential to remain cautious. Anything that diverts your attention away from the road can contribute to a serious accident.
Additionally, cyclists in California are not permitted to wear headphones in both ears while riding a bike. If bicyclists wish to listen to music while riding, they can put headphones in only one ear.
Riding a bike is an excellent activity and very good for your health. However, make sure you keep yourself safe while riding. Following California’s safety laws and rules is crucial. Therefore, ensure you have a proper bike and follow all state laws. This way, you and the rest of the traffic participants will be kept safe.
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