Whoever said that ‘ignorance is bliss’ was NOT referring to ignorance of road rules. In fact, lack of knowledge in basic road safety laws can cost you more than a citation ticket. Although most accidents on the streets happen between motorized vehicles such as cars or trucks, bicycles have also taken a hot seat recently due to their increasing number.
According to a 2012 data from the California Highway Patrol, more than 5,000 collisions in the Los Angeles County were between a bicycle and a motor vehicle. 2,759 of these accidents were the bicyclists’ fault, while motorists were only accountable for 1,878 incidents.
You may think these statistics are rigged – after all, why would a bicyclist be to blame when its cars who won’t yield to a right of way? A common mistake many bikers commit is riding AGAINST THE TRAFFIC. You may believe this practice is safer, but it’s no longer applicable today. California’s roads are becoming saturated with cars; with busy streets, it can be hard to spot an oncoming bicyclist (especially if there’s a car before you).
Your safest bet is to be aware of basic bike laws in your city to help prevent bicycle accidents – particularly those that involve YOU.
Ride With Care
The California Vehicle Code (CVC) governs most of the rules that applies to both motorized vehicles AND bicycle riders. Please note that each city may make their own guidelines regarding bicycle safety.
Beware of riding on sidewalks! You may think that you are safer because you’re out of traffic, but you’re just contributing as a path obstruction. Keep in mind that in several cities across California, this practice is actually illegal. Sidewalks are designed for pedestrians – practice proper bicycle code of etiquette by using the roadway or a bicycle lane (if available in your area) instead.
Say no to freeways… Regular and motorized bicycles are prohibited from riding on freeways and expressways.
…and Toll Bridges. Bicyclists are also not allowed to cross toll bridges UNLESS granted special permission by the California Department of Transportation.
Sharing with traffic. Safety officials advise bike riders to stay on the right side of the road as much as possible and keep to the speed of traffic. For those riding slower than traffic, make sure to position yourself to the safest lane available. Follow road signs, such as stop signs, and yield to the right of way.
Be visible. Make sure you have front-facing white headlight that can be seen from 300 meters, and reflectors at the back of your bike. These will help you remain visible when you’re riding in the dark. During daytime, wear bright colors and make sure to use hand signals to grab the other driver’s attention.
Stay sober. Just like motor vehicles, bicyclists are not allowed to ride while intoxicated (either by drugs or alcohol). It’s also illegal to wear headsets or ear plugs in both ears. This is to ensure that the bicyclist is aware of everything in his or her surroundings.
A common mistake most bicyclists make is running stop signs. Although there are cases wherein it’s better if you go ahead instead of risking getting crushed by a car, most situations would require you to really stop at red lights. Otherwise, you endanger yourself and those around you.
Riding a bike has plenty of benefits. Aside from zero carbon emission, it’s a great workout for the body and it’s fun, too! Don’t ruin your ride by getting into a bicycle accident. Know the law – protect yourself from personal injury.