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    Tips for Bicyclists to Avoid Car Accidents

When we were growing up in the 80s and 90s, we learned to always ride in the same direction as the traffic moving in our lane and to stay off of highways and freeways. Indeed, riding along the highway’s shoulder was illegal under the California Vehicle Code (CVC). So for sure there, there are ways to minimize the risk of being run over while riding a bicycle. Legally, bicyclists must install a front white light and a red rear reflector or a rear red light.

If you ride, eventually, you crash even when you make yourself more visible. While it may be impossible to completely eliminate the risk of being involved in a car accident on the streets, there are proactive measures you can take to reduce the likelihood of such biking incidents significantly.

For example, stay away from a bus or bus lane. They can knock your head clean off with their extended mirrors. Anywhere a commercial vehicle, like a truck or MTA, is parking is where you want to avoid riding. Don’t think they are looking for you or your headlight just because they have a license. Keep your commute through any parking lot brief, and consider walking your park in these locations as you cross through. This may sound obvious. But don’t race anywhere cars and big rigs operate. Even if it’s an empty parking lot, traffic lights can obscure both you and when a car pulls in front of you as you change lanes, etc. Don’t expect to get away with a few bruises if a car hits you. I am Los Angeles bicycle lawyer Michael Ehline, and I hope you enjoy this article!

RULE 1: Ride Bikes Defensively in the Same Direction – Focused and Alert

Riding bikes defensively in the same direction as traffic and staying focused and alert for car horns, train horns, and other dangers is essential for ensuring your safety on the road.

Here are some key points to keep in mind to avoid an incident:

  1. Maintain focus: The best way to make it out alive is to stay mentally present and avoid distractions as you slow down and track traffic. Keep your attention on the road, traffic, and potential hazards at all times. Consider paying attention to the hubcap or front wheel of cars near you. Avoid using your phone, listening to loud music, or engaging in activities that take your focus away from cycling. Have fun with those items later.
  2. Anticipate potential conflicts: Continuously scan your surroundings and anticipate potential conflicts or hazards. Look out for vehicles pulling out of driveways, crosswalks, pedestrians stepping onto the road, or other cyclists making sudden movements. By being proactive, you can react quickly and avoid accidents.
  3. Watch for road signs and signals: Make sure you see from under your bike helmet clearly. Attention to traffic signs and markings must be closely paid while constantly adjusting your crosswalk or lane position for safety. Observe the behavior of other road users who could blow through stop signs and adjust your riding accordingly. Be cautious at intersections and yield the right of way or put your foot on the gas (pedal fast) to avoid or pass motor vehicles when necessary.
  4. Be prepared for sudden maneuvers: Stay committed to paying attention. If not, there is a good chance you can be killed. Always be ready to make sudden maneuvers to avoid potential hazards (potholes, road workers, etc.) with another motor vehicle or fellow bicyclist. This includes being prepared to brake or swerve if a vehicle suddenly veers into your adjacent lane or path or if an unexpected obstacle or other hazard appears. Take a stand in favor of road safety, especially in parking lots with other drivers. (ride along the outer edge.)
  5. Maintain a safe distance: Keep a safe distance from vehicles in front of you to avoid hitting anything. This provides you with enough time and space to react to sudden stops or maneuvers by the vehicle ahead. Additionally, maintain a safe distance from parked cars to avoid collisions with opening doors. Obey the rules of common sense.
  6. Communicate your intentions: As you approach the intersection, look over your left shoulder for oncoming traffic. Use hand signals, make eye contact, and communicate clearly with other road users to indicate your intentions. This helps drivers, many cyclists, and pedestrians understand your movements and respond accordingly. Talking with non-verbal contact can avoid death or a serious injury to a bicyclist or their passengers.
  7. Be patient and calm: Stay calm and patient while riding, even in frustrating situations. Avoid aggressive behavior and resist the urge to engage in confrontations with motorists or pedestrians. Your focus should be on your own safety and reaching your destination and stopping completely unharmed.

Remember, stick to defensive riding techniques and obey local ordinances. To do so requires constant awareness, anticipation, and quick reactions. Adopting a defensive mindset can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and ensure a safer cycling experience as you navigate Los Angeles, California on a bicycle.

Bright, High-Visibility Colors for Enhanced Safety

In addition to the previous tips, choosing bright, high-visibility colors for your cycling attire can greatly enhance your safety on the road. Stay visible. Being seen can give you an edge. Wear brightly colored clothing and use lights or reflective gear, especially when riding in dark, low-light conditions. Make yourself as visible as possible to other road users, increasing the likelihood of being noticed and avoiding collisions.

  1. Wear Yellow/Orange Clothing: Opt for vibrant yellow or orange clothing. These colors are highly visible, especially during the daytime, and can help motorists spot you more easily. Fluorescent or neon hues are particularly effective in attracting attention.
  2. Reflective Gear: Supplement your high-visibility clothing with reflective accessories. Attach reflective strips or stickers to your helmet, bike frame, pedals, rear wheel, deflectorized tires, and clothing. When light shines on these reflective surfaces, they increase your visibility in low-light conditions, such as at dusk or dawn. Even in daytime riding, bright colors can save lives.
  3. Lights and Reflectors: Equip your bike with a white front light and a red rear light to make yourself more visible to others, especially during nighttime rides. Additionally, ensure that your bike has a front light, rear red reflector, pedals, and wheels. These reflectors bounce back light from approaching vehicles, alerting drivers to your presence.
  4. Consider Hi-Vis Accessories: Invest in hi-vis accessories designed specifically for cyclists. These include gloves, armbands, ankle bands, or vests with reflective strips or built-in LED lights. These accessories enhance your visibility and make it easier for motorists to see your hand signals and body movements.

Remember, the key is to make yourself as visible as possible to drivers, reducing the chance of accidents and promoting a safer cycling experience. By incorporating high-visibility colors and reflective elements into your attire and gear, you significantly improve your chances of being noticed by motorists, ensuring a safer ride. LED headlights and assuming many motorists won’t stop in moving traffic at red lights is one way you can stay safe and avoid a collision at the last second.

Ensure Bicycle Has Front and Rear Lights

To ensure your bicycle is equipped with front and rear lights, follow these steps:

  1. Purchase appropriate lights: Look for lights specifically designed for bicycles. Ensure they are bright, durable, and have a long or rechargeable battery life.
  2. Front light installation: Attach the front light securely to the handlebars of your bicycle. Most lights come with adjustable brackets or straps that allow you to fit them snugly. Make sure the light is facing forward and positioned to provide maximum visibility.
  3. Rear light installation: Mount the rear light on the back of your bicycle. It should be positioned in a way that is visible to vehicles approaching from behind. Rear lights usually come with different mounting options, such as seat post mounts or clip-on attachments. Please choose the one that suits your bicycle best and ensure it is securely fastened.
  4. Check the angle and alignment: Before hitting the road, make sure both lights are properly aligned. Adjust them if necessary so they point straight ahead (front light) or directly backward (rear light).
  5. Test the lights: Turn on the lights and verify that they are working correctly. Check for any dimness or flickering, and replace the batteries or charge them if needed.
  6. Additional visibility measures: Consider adding reflective elements or reflective tape to your bicycle and clothing to enhance your visibility to other road users, especially during low-light conditions.
  7. Regular maintenance: Check your brakes and lights periodically to ensure they are still securely attached and functioning properly. Replace batteries or recharge them as required.

Remember, using front and rear lights is a legal requirement in many places and significantly improves your safety while cycling, especially during dusk, dawn, or nighttime rides.

Don’t Hug Road Shoulder – Ride Right-Side Bike Lanes

In most countries, cyclists are typically advised to ride on the right side of the road, following the flow of traffic. Riding on the right side helps improve visibility and allows you to better interact with other vehicles on the road.

Exceptions: Cyclists Don’t Have to Ride Along the Curb

In certain situations, cyclists are not required to stay on the right side of the road and may move towards the center of the lane for safety reasons outlined in CVC 21202. The specific laws and regulations regarding cyclist positioning may vary depending on the jurisdiction.

In many places, cyclists are encouraged to ride in a position that maximizes their visibility and allows them to maintain a safe distance from hazards. This may involve moving away from the curb or towards the center of the lane when necessary. This practice can help cyclists avoid dangerous conditions such as potholes, debris, or narrow roadways.

It’s important for cyclists to use their judgment and adapt to the specific road conditions they encounter. If potholes or other hazards are present, moving toward the center of the lane may be necessary to ensure a safe and smooth passage. However, it’s still important to be mindful of other road users and communicate your intentions clearly.

There Is No State Prohibition Against Bikes on Sidewalks?

True. Regulations regarding bicycling on sidewalks can vary between cities and municipalities in California and other regions. State laws may provide general guidelines, but local jurisdictions may have their own specific rules and restrictions.

It’s important for cyclists to familiarize themselves with the regulations and ordinances of the specific city or area they are cycling in. These local rules may address sidewalk riding, bike lane usage, and interaction with pedestrians. Adhering to these regulations helps promote safety and harmony among all road users.

Thank you for providing additional information and clarifying the variations in local regulations concerning bicycles on sidewalks in different cities.

Bicyclists Can Take the Lane of Travel, Not Just Bicycle Lane?

Bicyclists are generally allowed to take the travel lane if it is necessary for their safety or if there are obstacles or obstructions on the road. This means that cyclists have the right to occupy a lane of travel, just like any other vehicle on the road, when it is deemed necessary.

Cyclists may need to take the lane in various situations, such as:

  1. Narrow roads: If a road is too narrow to allow both a bicycle and a vehicle to share the lane side by side safely, cyclists may take the lane to ensure their visibility and safety.
  2. Hazardous conditions: If there are hazards on the road, such as potholes, debris, or other obstacles, cyclists may move into the travel lane to avoid them and maintain a safe path.
  3. Double parking or blocked bicycle lanes: When bicycle lanes are blocked by double-parked vehicles or other obstructions, cyclists may need to move into the travel lane to continue their journey safely.
  4. Merging traffic: If there is merging traffic or an upcoming intersection where it is safer for a cyclist to be in the travel lane, they can take the lane to ensure they are visible to other road users.

It’s important for both cyclists and drivers to be aware of and respect each other’s rights and responsibilities on the road. Cyclists should communicate their intentions, use hand signals, and be aware of the traffic around them. Drivers should be patient and give cyclists enough space when they are in the travel lane.

Remember, the specific rules and regulations regarding cyclists taking the lane may vary depending on local laws and ordinances. It’s always important for cyclists to familiarize themselves with the specific regulations in their area and use their judgment to prioritize their safety on the road.

Often, the Bike Lane Is Optional

in California, bike lanes are often optional for cyclists, provided they can maintain a constant pace of traffic. According to California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 21208, cyclists are generally required to use bike lanes when they are provided. However, there are exceptions to this requirement, including situations where it is unsafe or impractical to use the bike lane.

Here are a few key points to consider:

  1. Optional use: Cyclists are not legally required to use a bike lane if they can maintain the same speed as traffic in the regular travel lanes. This is known as the “same speed provision.” Cyclists may ride in the travel lane instead if they feel safer or more practical.
  2. Safety concerns: Cyclists are permitted to leave the bike lane and move into the regular travel lane when there are obstacles, hazards, or other unsafe conditions within the bike lane. This is to ensure their safety and avoid collisions.
  3. Right turns: Cyclists preparing to make a right turn are allowed to merge out of the bike lane and into the regular travel lane when necessary. This allows them to position themselves correctly for the turn and helps prevent conflicts with right-turning vehicles.
  4. Cautious riding: Regardless of whether cyclists are using the bike lane or the regular travel lane, they should always ride in a cautious and predictable manner. Following traffic laws, signaling turns, and being aware of their surroundings are essential for safe cycling.

It’s important for both cyclists and drivers to understand and respect these regulations. Cyclists have the right to use the travel lane when necessary for safety, and drivers should be aware of and patient with cyclists who choose to ride in the regular travel lanes.

It’s worth noting that specific local regulations and ordinances may vary, so it’s always a good idea for cyclists to familiarize themselves with the specific rules in their area.

However, cyclists generally prefer riding closer to the right-hand side of the lane rather than hugging the shoulder.

Riding too close to the shoulder can be potentially hazardous due to various reasons, including:

  1. Road debris and hazards: The shoulder of the road often accumulates debris such as gravel, broken glass, or potholes. Riding too close to the shoulder increases the risk of encountering these hazards, which can cause accidents or damage to your bicycle.
  2. Car doors: Riding too close to parked cars means you’re at a higher risk of colliding with an opening car door. Give yourself enough space to avoid any sudden door openings from parked vehicles.
  3. Visibility: Riding closer to the right side of the lane improves your visibility to drivers and reduces the chance of being overlooked or squeezed into the curb. It also allows drivers to see you more clearly when approaching from behind or at intersections.
  4. Overtaking: By positioning yourself further from the shoulder, you make it easier for vehicles to overtake you safely without having to cross into the opposing lane.

Watch out for unexpected right turns

An unannounced last-minute left turn isn’t unusual, especially when the driver doesn’t know what’s going to happen. Hesitant drivers and lost drivers can cause inconveniences for drivers but can be serious dangers to cycling enthusiasts. When someone notices erratic driving behavior, you can always be careful to maintain a reasonable distance from your vehicle; this gives you optimum stopping control and reduces the risk you may fall into a wrong-turning car. It does also not hurt to take a good stance when approaching intersections or exit ramps when driving.

Safe Passing Law: Three Feet of Space

Bicycles can be hit at any time when they are attempting their journey. A bike rider must make swift decisions about the best route to take when moving through busy roads. This is why California has passed a law called California Vehicle Safety Code 21760(a). The new rules require drivers to cycle a minimum of 3 ft. space. Safe passing laws apply regardless if a motorcycle lane exists in place.

However, it’s important to use your judgment and adapt to the specific conditions of the road you’re cycling on. In some cases, it may be necessary to take the full lane, such as when approaching narrow sections, intersections, or areas with high pedestrian traffic. Always prioritize your safety and follow the local traffic laws and regulations.

, giving yourself ample space and avoiding the risk of getting squeezed into a groove or curb.

Display some unpredictability in your movements before a vehicle passes you, signaling that you require a wider berth.

Stay vigilant about your surroundings

Absolutely! Staying vigilant and aware of your surroundings is crucial for a safe cycling experience.

Here are some tips to help you maintain awareness while riding your bicycle:

  1. Scan the road ahead: Look ahead and be aware of any potential obstacles, potholes, or changes in the road surface that may affect your ride. This allows you to anticipate and react in advance.
  2. Check mirrors and blind spots: If your bicycle is equipped with mirrors, use them to check for vehicles approaching from behind regularly. Also, be sure to look over your shoulder and check your blind spots before changing lanes or making turns.
  3. Listen for oncoming traffic: Pay attention to the sounds of approaching vehicles, especially in areas with limited visibility. Pay attention to auditory cues, especially the sounds of larger vehicles or trucks, and promptly make necessary adjustments to create distance. This is particularly important when riding in urban environments with heavy traffic.
  4. Observe traffic patterns: Stay aware of the flow of traffic around you. Anticipate the behavior of other road users, such as cars, pedestrians, and other cyclists. Watch for any sudden movements or indications that may affect your safety.
  5. Use hand signals: Clearly signal your intentions to other road users by using proper hand signals when turning or changing lanes. This helps communicate your actions and increases predictability for those around you.
  6. Avoid distractions: Minimize distractions that can divert your attention from the road. Refrain from using electronic devices like smartphones or headphones while cycling.
  7. Be cautious at intersections: Intersections can be particularly challenging. Please slow down, look in all directions, and make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you before proceeding

Remember, being vigilant and attentive to your surroundings is key to staying safe while cycling. It’s important to adapt to the specific road conditions and traffic situations you encounter and always prioritize your safety. While maintaining caution, adopting a positive mindset, and hoping for the best is important.

Tips for Bicyclists to Prevent Car Accidents

With the growing popularity of bicycling in America for commuting, exercise, and leisure, it is essential for bicyclists to prioritize safety and take necessary precautions to avoid car accidents. Bicycles are considered vehicles on the road and share the same rights and responsibilities as motorized vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has implemented various bicycle safety initiatives to promote safer choices and reduce fatalities and injuries.

Here are some semantically related tips to help bicyclists prevent car accidents:

For Your Safety: Bicycle Gear and Equipment Laws

In California, there are many bike law provisions that can protect riders. You aren’t allowed to take off your bikes for sale in the yard without taking them to the street. You could, and maybe you would break the law! All bicycles must be considered “roadworthy” under California’s motorcycle laws. In California, the requirement of storing bicycles can be found under California bike legislation. The statute states that bikes need to be large enough for the rider to stop and carry the vehicle without any footing on the surface.

Importance of Helmets for Head Protection

  • Proper Helmet Fitting: Before every bike ride, ensure that you wear a helmet that fits correctly. Protect yourself by following these steps to ensure a proper fit. Adjusting the straps properly may take some time, so consider using a mirror or asking someone for assistance. You can refer to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (BHSI) website for comprehensive helmet size information from different manufacturers.

Strategies to Avoid Crashes

Reducing the Risk of Crashes: There are two primary types of crashes that bicyclists encounter: falls (the most common) and collisions with cars (the most severe). Regardless of the cause, prevention is crucial.

You can minimize the risk of crashes by being aware of the following bicycle safety facts:

  • Bicyclist fatalities are highest during summer, particularly between June and September.
  • The majority of bicyclist deaths occur in urban areas where bicyclists wear helmets.
    • Failure to yield the right of way is the leading cause of fatal bike crashes, followed by poor visibility of bicyclists.
  • Responsible Riding: All states require bicyclists to follow the same rules and responsibilities as motorway motorists. Many cities have their own rules as well.

Before heading out, make sure to:

  • Ride a bike that suits your size, as it becomes harder to control an oversized bike.
  • Ensure your bike is in proper working condition, especially the brakes.
  • Wear protective equipment such as a helmet, bright clothing during the day, and reflective gear, and use front and rear lights as well as reflectors on your bike at night or in low visibility conditions.
  • Ride single-file with both hands on the handlebars unless signaling a turn.
  • Carry items in a backpack or secure them to the back of your bike.
  • Secure your shoelaces and pant legs to prevent them from getting caught in the bike chain.
  • Plan your route carefully, opting for roads with less traffic and slower speeds. Consider bike lanes or dedicated bike paths for maximum safety.

Defensive Driving and Alertness

  • Be Focused and Alert: Stay attentive to the road and the surrounding traffic, anticipating the actions of others before they occur. This defensive driving approach allows you to react quickly and avoid potential accidents:
    • Follow the flow of traffic in the same direction.
    • Adhere to street signs, signals, and road markings like you would in a car.
    • Assume that others may not see you and scan the road ahead for potential hazards or situations that could lead to a fall, such as toys, pebbles, potholes, grates, or train tracks.
    • Avoid distractions like texting, listening to music, or any activity that diverts your attention from the road.

Rules of the Road

  • Drive Predictably: By driving in a predictable manner, you enable motorists to anticipate your actions and take necessary precautions to avoid accidents. Follow these guidelines:
    • Travel routes where you are visible to a motorist, going in the same direction as traffic.
    • Signal your intentions and check over your shoulder before changing lanes or making turns crossing into a driveway, etc.
  • Minimize Sidewalk Riding: Riding on sidewalks should be avoided or kept to a minimum due to pedestrians and sudden evasive action needed to slow down or adjust when passing on a narrow sidewalk.

New Laws Address Motorized and Electric Bicycles

California’s bicycle regulations have been updated to address motorized and electric bicycles. These regulations aim to provide clarity and ensure the safety of individuals who ride these types of bicycles in a non-negligent fashion.

Electric bicycles are classified into three categories based on their speed and power capabilities.

These categories are defined in California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 312.5 and include:

a. Class 1: Electric bicycles equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling. The motor ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches a speed of 20 miles per hour (mph).

b. Class 2: Electric bicycles equipped with a motor that can propel the bicycle without pedaling, but the motor ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches a speed of 20 mph.

c. Class 3: Electric bicycles equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling. The motor ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches a speed of 28 mph.

  1. Bike and pedestrian paths: Electric bicycles are generally prohibited on bicycle paths or pedestrian paths unless specifically authorized by local authorities. This means that riders of electric bicycles will typically need to use the regular travel lanes on the road.
  2. Lane position: Electric bicycle riders should position themselves in the travel lane similarly to how traditional bicycles do. They should follow traffic laws, signal turns and safely and predictably ride.
  3. Safety requirements: Electric bicycles must meet certain safety requirements, such as having operable pedals, a maximum motor power limit, and an electric motor that disengages or ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the specified speed limits.

It’s important for riders of electric bicycles to familiarize themselves with the specific regulations and requirements outlined in the California Vehicle Code. Additionally, local regulations may vary, so it’s advisable to check with local authorities or transportation departments for any additional rules or restrictions that may apply in your area.

Practice Safe Riding and Make it Home Safe

Remember, the regulations surrounding motorized and electric bicycles are aimed at ensuring the safety of riders and other road users. Adhering to these regulations helps promote harmony and safety on the roads.

Feel free to share any additional suggestions that can benefit our readers. The post Tips for Preventing Car Accidents appeared first on Ehline Law Firm. Call or text 833-LETS-SUE or complete a Free Case Evaluation form.


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Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.