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Welcome to Bike Safe California!

Safety for the cycling community is a two-way street, a shared-use path.

We exist together on the same roads. Unfortunately, cyclists are at a large disadvantage.

Cycling is an incredible sport. It offers an escape from the urban grind, a path to minimalist living and, for many people, an opportunity to be mobile.

We start advocacy by focusing on the cycling community. We want our behavior to reflect lawfulness and respect.

From there we can push forward towards working with the city council in each of our communities to help create studies on what areas need more bike paths and how we can adjust laws and lane striping to create a healthier, safer cycling community.

A strong cycling community can create a stronger economy, less homelessness and healthier families with fewer missed work days.

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Road Cycling Safety Skills

Putting Your Skills Into Action

The 5 essential skills of safe bicycling matter most in situations where using them can help you avoid a collision or a fall.

Here are some common situations you should be prepared for:

  • Entering the roadway
  • Passing parked or stopped cars
  • Driver makes a right turn in front of you
  • Driver makes a left turn in front of you
  • Driver directly crosses your path

Important! Like all activities, riding a bicycle anywhere involves some risk – and every bicyclist decides how much risk is acceptable. The risks you face when riding on the road with other traffic depend on many factors and how they affect one another, including laws, roadway and traffic signal design, roadway conditions, time of day and weather, riding skill, and common sense. While you may not be able to avoid all risks, you’ll ride more safely and confidently when you understand the risk factors and master the skills that can help reduce them.

“You are a car.”

“Ah, that explains it,” you think. You stare thoughtfully at your cup of coffee. Maybe it is motor oil.

Probably one of the hardest concepts for the new cyclist to grasp is that they need to switch from the runner’s mindset of going against the traffic and start flowing with it. It seems that almost daily, we drivers encounter a cyclist who is hell-bent on going the wrong way.

Controlled By Motor Vehicle Law

Your actions on the bike are mostly controlled by CVC 21200, giving you the same rights as vehicles.

With those rights come responsibilities.

It may also be worth noting that mopeds and e-bikes with top speeds greater than 28 mph do not get the privilege of riding in the bike lane, is restricted to those 16 years of age and up and do require a helmet to be worn to operate them. They may also require registration and insurance.

Scooters and assisted bikes with speeds under 20 mph can still ride in the bike lanes.

Can I Ride In The Road?

If you are keeping up with traffic, then, yes, without question. However, even if the traffic is moving faster than you, you still have the right to use the right-hand edge of the road.

There are even provisions that allow you to move further into the roadway when avoiding hazards or if the edge of the road is blocked. And, of course, you’ll need to move left when making a left-hand turn.

Cyclists are never allowed on freeways.

With A Bike Lane Present

When there is a bike lane, you are required to move over into that lane when riding slower than the traffic.

Of course, bike lanes offer their own set of challenges for cyclists, especially when they are used by unauthorized vehicles or when they merge with a right-hand turn.

Anytime I am sharing the road; I like to be proactive about choosing routes with less congestion and, when necessary, waiting for traffic to pass before proceeding.

It is not always feasible, but I do like to be proactive about my safety.

Motorists and officers are not always as well versed in these matters. Do not press matters or become confrontational. If you are cited, seek the resources of a reliable bicycle attorney.

May I Ride On The Sidewalk? These rules vary from city to city and are not controlled by the local code. While the sidewalks distance you from the dangers of passing traffic, it does move you closer to the hazards of cracks, telephone poles, and absent-minded pedestrians.

I use the sidewalk when I feel that there is no other safe option available. So far, I have not been cited, but this use of the sidewalks is always judicious and performed at reduced speeds and away from pedestrian traffic.

Do I Need Insurance?

You do not need bike insurance to operate in the state of California. Most of us are already covered under provisions from our homeowners or vehicle insurance.

Must I Wear A Helmet?

All people under the age of 18 must wear a helmet in the state of California. This is primarily enforced in public roadways, sidewalks, and bike lanes

Additionally, in the cities of Bidwell Park, Chico, and El Cerrito you are required to wear a helmet regardless of age.

Helmets for those under 18 are required to pass CPSC certification and to have a valid, current sticker (you can find that on the inside of the helmet)

Must I Have Lights And Reflectors?

A white headlight must be visible from the front when cycling after dark. Additionally, you will need a rear reflector, and you may attach a solid or blinking rear light in addition to the rear reflector.

They also want you to have a white reflector on the front of the bicycle, white or yellow reflectors on the pedals or shoes, and white or yellow reflectors that are visible from the side, whether that is on the wheels or the frame.

Most cyclists tend to remove reflectors that are in their way, so be sure to double check your ride before doing night riding.

Can I Wear Headphones?

In many states headphones are permissible and a fun way to add some variation to your workout.

You must have at least one ear open to the traffic at all times. So you would be limited to riding with only one earbud. You are allowed to also use a hand-held cellphone while operating your bike, but my experience has demonstrated that it is best to pull over before answering calls.

Can I Park In The Bike Lane?

Even as a cyclist, you are not allowed to park or obstruct the bicycle lane.

Can I Ride A Bike While Drunk?
In the state of California, you may not ride a bicycle under the influence of Drugs or Alcohol.

Interestingly enough, 27% of fatal bicycle accidents occur when the rider is inebriated. Considering how many of thousands of sober cyclists there are, it is thought that cycling while drunk greatly raises your chance of being injured.

A Bicycle-Friendly State.

In 2015, the League of American Cyclists ranked California the #8 most bike-friendly state. This not only encompasses the laws but how well they are used to keep cyclists safe.

As a central state for many of our pro team’s training California has a lot to be proud of. Considerate cyclists like yourself will only continue to improve those relationships.

Choosing A Good Bike To Ride In The City

You can ride virtually any bicycle in the city. Each bicycle has their own advantages and disadvantages. Of course, theft is an ever-present concern, so you might go for the more affordable options, first.

Mountain Bikes are where many new commuters start. These bicycles are robust and affordable. The wide tires help prevent punctures and they are perfect for jumping curbs and potholes.

Hybrid Bikes are another top pick. They tend to also be affordable, and some of them are very lightweight and fast to ride. They do tend to have narrower tires, so you want to avoid cracks and grates.

Road Bikes are what most dedicated commuters use. These bicycles have the advantage of skinny tires and curved handlebars to make the rider aerodynamic and fast. Many bike messengers and bike racers start off by buying a beginner-level road bike like one of these and continue to stay in the sport long after their commuting days are over.

Whatever avenue you choose, always wear a helmet, stay alert, and inform yourself on the laws so you can better protect yourself.