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Bicycles: rules of the road
WRITTEN BY :   Lars Clutterham

Theoretically, every driver who’s read the California Driver Handbook knows that bicyclists have essentially the “same rights and responsibilities as vehicle and motorcycle drivers,” to quote the Handbook itself. Nevertheless, there are some bicyclists out there who seem either not to have read the rules or to openly flout them. So here are the rules of the road for bicyclists, quoted verbatim from the pocket handout published by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition that was given by the Downey Bicycle Coalition to all student riders on Bike to School Day, Wednesday, May 8 (while supplies lasted).
“RIDE ON THE STREET: You have a right to ride on the street. You are NOT required to ride on the sidewalk.
“OBEY ALL SIGNS, STREET MARKINGS, AND SIGNALS: Bicycle riders must obey the same rules as vehicle drivers. This includes stopping at red lights and stop signs.
“AVOID RIDING ON SIDEWALKS: Each city in California has its own rules about ridding a bicycle on the sidewalk. Some cities allow sidewalk riding, some don’t.” (The City of Downey allows bike riding on most sidewalks outside of the downtown area, but in most cases, it’s neither convenient nor safe.)
“YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS: Pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks (marked or unmarked) and on sidewalks. Bicyclists are also required to ‘exercise due care’ for the safety of pedestrians in the roadway who are not in a crosswalk.
“RIDE TO THE RIGHT, BUT WITHIN LIMITS: When riding slower than the normal speed of traffic, you are required to ride as far right as ‘practicable’ (meaning safe). You are not required to ride as far right as possible, which may not be safe. You are allowed, but not required, to ride on the shoulder.
“TAKE THE LANE: If a travel lane is too narrow to safely share side by side with a motor vehicle, you can prevent unsafe passing by riding near the center of the lane. On two-lane roads where it’s illegal or unsafe to pass, you must turn off the roadway at a designated or safe location to allow a line of 5 or more vehicles behind you to pass.
“RIDE WITH TRAFFIC, NOT AGAINST IT: You must ride on the right half of the roadway, with the flow of traffic.
“LOOK AND YIELD BEFORE YOU GO: You must yield to traffic before entering the roadway.
“RIDE OUTSIDE THE DOOR ZONE: It’s the responsibility of motor vehicle drivers to make sure it’s clear before opening a door. Despite this, a practical guide is to ride at least 3 feet from parked cars.
“PASS MOTOR VEHICLES AND OTHER BICYCLES ON THE LEFT: You can move left when passing a vehicle or another bicycle traveling in the same direction.
“YOU CAN TURN LEFT LIKE A CAR: You can turn left from the left turn lane. You cannot turn left from the right side of the roadway.
“MOVE LEFT TO AVOID HAZARDS: You can move left to avoid hazards like fixed or moving objects, bad surface conditions, animals, glass, etc.
“MOVE LEFT TO AVOID INTERSECTION CONFLICTS: You can move left wherever a right or left turning vehicle might cross your path.
“SIGNAL AND YIELD WHEN MOVING LEFT OR RIGHT: Use hand signals to indicate when you are turning, changing lanes, or stopping. Move left or right only when it’s clear to do so.
“USE THE BIKE LANE, BUT LEAVE IT WHEN NEEDED: When riding slower than the normal speed of traffic, you must ride in the bike lane in the same direction as adjacent traffic. You can leave the bike lane to pass another bicyclist or a vehicle in the lane, to turn left, to avoid debris or hazards, or where a right-turning vehicle might cut you off.
“USE LIGHTS AT NIGHT: A white headlight, rear, side, and pedal reflectors are required by law if riding when it’s dark.
“RIDE WITH A BRAKE: Your bike must be equipped with a brake that enables you ‘to make one braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.’
“WEAR A HELMET: Bicyclists under the age of 18 must wear a helmet that meets minimum accepted standards.
“USE ONLY ONE EARPLUG: You may not wear earplugs in both ears or headsets that cover both ears.
“DON’T RIDE UNDER THE INFLUENCE: You can be cited for riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

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Published: June 6, 2013 – Volume 12 – Issue 08



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