More than 10,000 bicyclists are hurt, and another 100 die every year in collisions throughout California. The state’s Dept. of Motor Vehicles says the fault is on both sides, bicyclists and motorists who exhibit a lack of attention or skill or engage in unsafe behavior.
The California Driver Handbook points out that bicyclists have both the same rights and the same responsibilities as motorists. Also like motorists, they are committing a crime if they operate a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and can be fined. Those older than 13 but younger than 21 may have their vehicle driving privileges suspended as well, even if the suspension must be delayed until the cyclist is eligible to drive.
Along with obeying the rules of the road, including signs and traffic signals, bicyclists must also:
- Yield to pedestrians
- Wear a helmet if younger than 18
- Ride close to the right edge or curb
- Signal before a lane change or turn
- Use the same turn lanes as vehicles
Bicyclists must also have a brake that is in strong enough to stop them in a skid. If they ride at night, cyclists must ensure bikes are equipped with a front lamp and reflectors in front, back and on the pedals.
Motorists have rules to follow too when it comes to sharing the road with cyclists. These include:
- Check for cyclists when opening doors and changing lanes
- Leave plenty of room when passing bicyclists, so they are not forced into a car or curb
- Merge into the bike lane or curb only when safe and only within 200 feet of a turn
This article contains important safety information, but it is of a general nature and should not be considered legal advice.