The Rules of the Road for Bicycles: What Every Cyclist Should Know

Cycling can be a great way to get exercise and cut down on emissions. However, if you are not careful, you could wind up in a bike accident with serious injuries. In fact, every year, over 100 bicyclists are killed and thousands more are injured.  Following the rules of the road and bicycling in a predictable and safe manner can help increase your safety and reduce the likelihood of being struck by a motor vehicle.

Here are the rules of the road for bicycles in California:

You Must Ride with the Flow of Traffic 

Bicyclists must ride with the flow of traffic. This means you must drive on the right-hand side of the road at all times. Cyclists must ride as close to the curb as is practical except when they are: 

  • Making a left-hand turn
  • Avoiding objects
  • Passing another vehicle 

Cyclists can ride on the left-hand side of a one-way street.

You Are Treated as a Vehicle

In most situations, cyclists are treated as vehicles. They must follow the same rules as drivers of motor vehicles. They also have the same rights as other motorists to share the road. Cyclists must obey all traffic rules, including:

  • Stopping at stop signs and red lights
  • Not drinking and driving
  • Not riding while distracted
  • Following the direction of traffic 
  • Maintaining sufficient space between other vehicles 
  • Not stopping in a bike lane

You Must Ride with Reflectors and Lights When Riding at Night 

Bicycles are harder to spot when it is dark. Therefore, you need to use reflectors and flashing lights on your bike. You may also want to wear reflective clothing or tape to further enhance visibility. 

Use Hand Signals 

When you are turning or otherwise need to communicate to other motorists, use hand signals.

You Must Use a Bike Lane When Available 

If a bike lane is available, you must ride in it. You are also required to travel at a safe speed while in the bike lane. However, you can speed up to make a turn at an intersection or to avoid hazardous conditions.

Cyclists Must Wear a Helmet If They Are Under 18 Years of Age 

California law requires all cyclists under the age of 18 to wear a helmet. Helmets protect cyclists from traumatic brain injuries and can save lives.

You Cannot Ride in Certain Areas

Cyclists are prohibited from riding on highways, toll roads, and other prohibited areas.

Don’t Cover Both Your Ears

While you might enjoy listening to music, podcasts, or other things while riding, it is essential that you do not cover both your ears with earbuds or other devices. It is important that you can still hear oncoming traffic and alerts regarding impending dangers. 

You Have the Right to Recovery

Even if you obey all the rules of the road for bicycles, there’s no guarantee that other drivers will follow the rules. If a driver’s negligence causes an accident that injures you, you can take legal action and pursue compensation for the damages you suffered, such as:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity 
  • Damage to your bicycle
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

If you were injured in a bike accident, an Orange County bike accident lawyer at Aitken * Aitken * Cohn can help. We can conduct a thorough investigation to determine how your accident happened, who is responsible for it, and which insurance policies can cover your damages. Contact us for a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.