Longer days and warmer weather are upon us! With the advent of summer in the OC, now is the time to head outdoors and enjoy the warm SoCal breeze on your bicycle. It’s also a great time to review some key bicycle safety tips. Prevention is always the best medicine, and following these tips can help both the experienced and novice rider stay out of harm’s way this summer.
California requires everyone under the age of eighteen to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle and scooter. Statistics show that the head is the most likely area of the body to sustain an impact in a bicycle accident. The Legislature is currently debating a helmet requirement for adult riders too, but for the meantime, helmet wearing is optional for adults. Make sure your helmet fits properly and is certified by the Snell Foundation, the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials), or CPSC (United States Consumer Product Safety Commission).
Many collisions between bikes and cars occur because of visibility issues. Bicycle riders should make every effort to increase their visibility. One way to do this is to wear bright or neon-colored clothing, as well as reflector vests for nighttime riding. Make yourself stand out and catch an otherwise distracted driver’s attention. Riders must also use their bicycle lights whenever riding at night, even if it’s for a short ride.
The legality of sidewalk riding changes from city to city and you can visit ocbike.org for the rules in your particular city. Nevertheless, even where it’s legal, many accidents occur because drivers do not anticipate bicyclists riding on the sidewalk. This is especially the case near driveway or parking lot entrances. Riders should also resist the urge to speed on the sidewalk and remember that a pedestrian may walk out of a storefront business unexpectedly.
Riding Against Traffic
Bike riders cannot ride against traffic, and this is another frequent cause of accidents. Drivers turning right out of parking lot driveways are usually looking to their left to prepare to merge into traffic, not their right. If a bicyclist is riding against traffic, the turning driver will not see him. Ride in the same direction as traffic to avoid this hazardous scenario.
Surprise! Bicycle riders are required to stop at stop signs, red lights, and obey all traffic laws. Accidents can occur when drivers see a clear intersection and begin to proceed through it, only to collide with a bicyclist who failed to stop at the stop sign. Bicyclists who fail to obey traffic laws can be cited by police just like a driver.
Lastly, drivers should remember the new three-foot rule—it’s illegal to pass a bicyclist unless there is a minimum of three feet of clearance.
Enjoy the warm weather and health benefits of bicycle riding this summer! For a free bicycle safety handout, send an email to Michael@mrubinsteinlaw.com, or visit www.bikelawyeroc.com.
Rabbi Michael Rubinstein, an OC native, is a Southern California personal injury attorney at the Law Office of Michael E. Rubinstein. His unique background enables him to successfully represent accident victims across Southern California.