Since bicyclists on public streets have the same rights as automobile drivers, they also have the same responsibilities and are subject to the same rules and regulations as all vehicle drivers. Follow these general rules and regulations and stay safe in 2011! (Auto drivers should read these rules as well, to know what bicyclists are signaling.)
Four Basic Safety Tips from the DMV
- Maintain control of your bicycle.
- Protect yourself—Reduce the risk of head injury by always wearing a helmet.
- Be visible, alert, and communicate your intentions.
- Ride with traffic.
Laws and Rules
By law, bicyclists under 18 years of age must wear a helmet (VC §21212).
You must signal before making turns or changing lanes.
- To signal a left turn: Look behind you, over your left shoulder, and then extend your left arm out.
- To signal a right turn: Hold your left arm up with your elbow bent (you may also hold your right arm straight and point to the right).
- Always have at least one hand on the handlebars to maintain control. To signal that you are slowing or stopping, extend your left arm down.
Use lights and reflectors at night (VC §21201).
Bright colors such as yellow, lime green, and orange will help increase your visibility.
- Mirrors are great for increased awareness of your surroundings, but always look over your shoulder first before an actual turn.
Ride With Traffic
- Ride in the same direction as the traffic because you will be more visible to drivers.
- On a one-way street, you may ride on the left as long as you are riding with traffic.
Left Turns (the 2 proper methods)
1. Using Traffic Lanes
“As you approach the intersection, look over your left shoulder for traffic. If clear, signal your turn and move over to the left side of the lane, or into the left or center turn lane. Position yourself so that vehicles going straight cannot pass you on your left while you are making your left hand turn. Yield to oncoming traffic before turning. If you are riding in a bicycle lane, or on a multi-lane road, you need to look and signal each time you change lanes. Never make a left turn from the right side of the road, even if you’re in a bicycle lane.”
2. Using Crosswalks
“Approach the intersection staying on the right. Stop and either cross as a pedestrian in the crosswalk, or make a 90 degree left turn and proceed as if you were coming from the right. If there is a signal light, wait for the green or WALK signal before crossing. Yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.”
Adapted from the CA DMV.
Photo Credit: Transportation for America