Cycling may be good for you, but is also dangerous, particularly if you are male, over 20 years old, and riding in California. Statistics show that between 2010 and 2012, over three hundred cyclists in California were killed in accidents involving motorists, the majority of them involving males of 20 years old. While California bicycle laws are in place to make the road a safer place for both cyclists and motorists, a few tips can make everyone’s road trip less likely to make this year’s statistical data.
Follow the Cycling Laws
California bicycle laws state that cyclists must use the road and follow the rules of the road, the same as the motor traffic around them. When available, cyclists MUST use designated bike lanes. They must stay as far to the right of any lane they are traveling in, except when one of the following conditions does not apply:
- Preparing for a left turn
- Avoiding obstructions
- Approaching a right-turn-only lane
Follow Safety Measures
The Institute for Highway Safety points to two major contributing factors to the rise in bicycling accidents and fatalities: not wearing helmets and cycling while under the influence. California bicycle laws require all riders under the age of 18 to wear appropriate safety helmets (but helmets are recommended for everyone). Other safety measures that are covered by California bicycle laws include:
- The use of headphones/earbuds in both ears is prohibited by law. Cyclists may wear one earbud or headphone, but not two. Note: Hearing aids are an exception to this law.
- Cyclists may not carry anything that obstructs their view, or prevents them from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.
- Cyclists must yield to pedestrians at all marked cross walks and all intersections whether or not a marked crosswalk is present.
- The bicycle must be equipped with a white head light for night time riding, yellow or white reflectors on both pedals, a red reflector on the back so as to be seen from the rear, and side reflectors—yellow or white for the front half and red or white for the back.
Follow the Rules of the Road
California law enforcement expects cyclists to follow general traffic laws and courtesies. All traffic must stop at stop signs and traffic signals. All traffic must obey traffic pattern laws—one way streets, turn-only lanes, etc. All traffic must signal before making turns. “All traffic” includes cyclists and motorists alike.
There is no state law against riding on the sidewalks—that has been left to the individual municipal and local governments to decide (see below for San Diego).
Cities within San Diego County that…
Allow bicycle riding on sidewalks, except in business districts:
- San Diego
- National City
- Chula Vista
- Imperial Beach
- Lemon Grove
- Unincorporated San Diego County
Forbid riding on sidewalks at all times:
- El Cajon
Regulate but don’t forbid riding on sidewalks:
- San Marcos
Don’t regulate riding on sidewalks:
- Solana Beach
- La Mesa
As a side note, riding in parks is prohibited in Del Mar. If you ever must ride on the sidewalk, be sure to do so slowly and carefully.
By knowing and following the laws and regulations regarding cycling in California, riders and motorists can be assured of a safe, pleasant ride, and a happy arrival at their destinations. Check out more safe cycling tips at www.sdbikecoalition.org, and contact the Law Offices of Philip M. Cohen for any questions regarding bike accidents.