Bicycle Safety

For the most part members of our motoring public have received several hours of classroom training and personal instruction before procuring a California Driver's License. To ensure the motoring public is safe, it is imperative those possessing a driver's license are familiar with and know the rules of the road; however, what about bicyclists? "Are there laws pertaining to bicyclists?" "Can I get a ticket when I am riding my bike?" "Which way am I supposed to ride my bike on the road?" These are all valid questions, which I have been asked several times throughout my career. In this article, I am going to answer some of these common questions, identify safety issues, and provide some statutory law from the California Vehicle Code.

Cars and bicyclists alike have to share the roadways; therefore, section 21200(a) of the California Vehicle Code states "every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle." Thus, a bicyclist must obey all traffic signals, signs, and laws that the driver of a vehicle must follow. This would include the portion of the roadway where bicyclists should be riding, which is described in section 21202(a) of the California Vehicle Code.

Section 21202(a) CVC- requires any person who is operating a vehicle on a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic to ride as close as practical to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway. However, this doesn't include the sidewalk, which is designated for pedestrian traffic. Often times I see bicyclists riding on the sidewalks in the downtown areas in front of the businesses. This presents a number of hazards not only for the bicyclists but to business patrons who are exiting stores and pedestrians walking on the sidewalks. Riding on the sidewalk is prohibited by the City of Red Bluff's Municipal Code.

Over the years, I have fielded several questions with regard to consuming alcoholic beverages and riding bicycles. It is, in fact, illegal to ride a bicycle upon a roadway while under the influence of alcohol. A bicyclist can be arrested for riding a bicycle while under the influence and for the most part; DUI laws pertaining to bicyclists are similar to those operating a motor vehicle.

One of the key factors for bicycle safety is visibility, especially at night. A bicyclist can enhance their visibility by wearing reflective material on their clothing and by properly maintaining the bicycle's lighting equipment and reflectors. Another key piece of safety equipment is an adequate braking system, which will enable the bicyclist to make one wheel skid on dry level pavement per section 21201(a) CVC.

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