Bike accidents tend to spike in the summer. This isn’t surprising since more people choose to hop on their bike to enjoy the beautiful weather. Unfortunately, many bike accidents happen because drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists don’t know local bike laws.
You can avoid a bike accident this summer, whether you’re biking, walking, or driving, by taking a few minutes to become familiar with some of the most important bike laws in Los Angeles. In order to help you get started, our Los Angeles bike accident attorneys have listed five of the most important bicycle laws you need to know.
1. Kids Have to Wear Helmets
California law [California Vehicle Code Section 21212] requires all bicyclists under the age of 18 to wear a helmet. Why? Wearing a helmet has proven to increase rider safety. Bicyclists who are involved in an accident are 37% less likely to die and 69% less likely to suffer a serious injury if they are properly wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
2. Pedestrians Have the Right of Way
Pedestrians are perhaps the most vulnerable people on the road. Since they have little to protect themselves from injury in the event of a crash, California laws tend to favor pedestrian safety. When you ride a bike in Los Angeles, there will be times when you will cross paths with a pedestrian, whether in a crosswalk, at an intersection, or on a sidewalk. In most situations, bicyclists have to yield the right of way to pedestrians.
While California law [California Vehicle Code Section 21950] explains that pedestrians have an obligation to make sure it is safe to enter or cross a roadway, bicyclists assume the responsibility of yielding until they’ve made it safely across the road.
3. Bicyclists Must Use Bike Lanes If They’re Available
Los Angeles has invested a lot of time, energy, and financial resources in making its roads friendlier for bicyclists. In order to make sure that bike safety measures are effective, California law [California Vehicle Code Section 21208] requires all bicyclists to ride in bike lanes, whenever possible.
What if you have to make a left-hand turn or cross the road? What if the bike lane is filled with debris and dangerous to ride on? There are certain times when you will be permitted to leave the bicycle lane. However, you’ll have to explain that you had a good reason for doing so. Whenever you do ride outside of a bike lane, it’s important to use extra care and caution.
4. Bicycles Must Be Equipped With Lights and Reflectors
Many bike accidents happen because motorists simply can’t see bicyclists who are sharing the road. In order to reduce the number of accidents caused by limited visibility, California law [California Vehicle Code Section 21201(d)] requires all bicyclists to (a) wear reflectors and/or (b) install reflective devices on their bikes.
So, what do you have to wear and/or put on your bike?
All bikes must be outfitted with red, white, and yellow reflectors that can be seen from the front, side, and rear of the bike. Reflectors must be visible from at least 200 feet away.
If you’re riding at night, a white headlight must be visible from the front of your bike. The light can be installed on the bike or worn on your person. Whatever you choose, the light must be visible from at least 300 feet away.
5. Don’t Drink and Ride
Riding a bike while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in California. [California Vehicle Code Section 21200.5] While riding a bike may seem like a better choice than getting behind the wheel, it can still be incredibly dangerous.
Drugs and alcohol impair your senses and will increase the likelihood of being in a crash. This can not only put you in harm’s way, but others, as well. If you find yourself in need of a ride, do not hesitate to call a friend, cab, or rideshare service for a lift home.
Call Our Attorneys Today For Help
Have you been injured in a Los Angeles bicycle accident? You may be entitled to compensation, even if you were partially to blame for your injuries. Call Citywide Law Group to find out how our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys can help you get the money you deserve after your accident. We offer a free consultation, so do not hesitate to call us now.