Under California Bike Laws, What Are San Diego Cyclists’ Responsibilities?

Cyclists are treated like vehicle operators under most California bicycle laws. This means you are required to obey lane designations, STOP signs, traffic lights and DUI laws. Besides a bike in good repair, understanding the law and employing good safety practices, you should exercise good old-fashioned common sense to minimize the chances of your involvement in a San Diego bike accident. For example, bicyclists under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet. This is one of the most important laws since a minor spill could lead to irreparable life-threatening head injuries.

San Diego cycling accident attorney Frederick M. Dudek, an avid cyclist and author of the San Diego Cycling Safety Portal, has seen the devastating consequences that a San Diego bicycle accident can have on individuals and their loves ones. Wearing a helmet is the single-most important way to prevent head injuries, and it makes good sense for all cyclists to protect themselves by wearing the proper gear, which includes a properly fitted helmet.

In many situations, it is safest to ride in the bicycle lane when one is available. If a lane is not present, ride as far to the right as is possible. Constantly surveying your surroundings and anticipating your next move will pay dividends when you must exercise exceptions to the general rules, such as avoiding road hazards, or moving into the center of the lane.

All bicyclists are required to use hand signals before stopping, turning or changing lanes. Signal your intentions to motorists; it is courteous and it actively elicits their cooperation in your bike safety. Allow yourself plenty of time to signal before changing lanes or making a turn. Try to establish eye contact with motorists as you deliver clear hand signals. Scan, signal and “negotiate” with motorists before you move into traffic.

Equip your bike with lights and reflectors for night riding. Your bike must be equipped with a white headlamp that has the capacity to project light to the front and side of roadway for a minimum distance of 300 feet. Also, equip the rear of the bike with a red reflector that is visible for a distance of 500 feet. A cyclist needs a white or yellow reflector on the bike’s pedal or the cyclist’s ankle or shoe, which is visible from 200 feet. California law also requires a white or yellow reflector on each side forward of the bicycle center and a white or red reflector on each side behind the bike center. (This is not required on bicycles with front and rear reflectarized tires.) See illustration below:

Image of a bicycle with lighting requirements in San Diego

Following California bike laws will enhance your safety as well as your enjoyment from your San Diego cycling activities. Go to the California Department of Motor Vehicles for a complete list of bicycle laws and other information on bicycle safety. If you or a family member is involved in a San Diego Bike Accident due to a motorist’s negligence, arrange for a free consultation with Attorney Frederick M. Dudek so he can explain your options.