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Bicycle Rules of the Road in California

cyclist

The statistics surrounding bicycle-related casualties is jarring.

According to the Daily Bruin, the California Transportation Injury Mapping System states that Los Angeles has accumulated a record of over 18,000 bike accidents in 2015 to 2019, making it the most dangerous city in California for bike riders.

It also doesn’t bring bikers relief that the Department of Motor Vehicles has stipulated that more than 10,000 bicyclists sustain an injury every year.

To make matters worse, over a hundred of them become victims of manslaughter.

This may have a lot to do with the common misconceptions surrounding bicycle-use. For example, a lot of people think that bicyclists are not legally allowed to use the road. This couldn’t be further from the truth; in fact, the California bicycle laws actually mandate bikers to stay off the sidewalk, urging them to remain on the main road where they will be beholden to the same right of way rules as other vehicles. This results in an utter disregard for bikers, with car drivers feeling more entitled on the road.

But bikers are a lot more vulnerable to injury and death than other drivers — one false move and they could easily acquire numerous personal injuries such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), Soft Tissue Injury, and more. This lessens incentives for Los Angeles bikers to follow California road rules, especially as they usually are at the receiving end of LA drivers’ severe road rage, leading them to ride their bikes on the sidewalk where they are safer.

This phenomenon is especially prevalent in low-income neighborhoods in Los Angeles where roads are less safe and where police-enforced “bike stops” heavily occur. Such bike stops also occur disproportionately in communities of color. Furthermore, 70% of the cyclists stopped by the LA County Sheriff’s Departments for bike violations were Latino. What was then perceived to be neutral bicycle laws in California have now been alleged to be largely discriminatory.

In response, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is now taking a closer look at decriminalizing bike violations as reported by the Bruin.

This could be a huge win for marginalized communities who are affected by bicycle laws in California at a disproportionate rate, but it still does not solve the pressing issue at hand: bike casualties.

Despite the alleged inequities born out of bike rules in California, they remain to have the physical wellbeing of bike riders at heart:

  • CVC §21212 mandates all minors (people below 18 years old) to wear a helmet as they cruise through the road.
  • CVC §21201 urges bicyclists who use the road at night to have lights and reflectors attached to their bikes.
  • CVC §27400 prohibits bicyclist from using anything that might impede their hearing on traffic
  • And many more!

The Department of Motor Vehicles also provided safety tips for bikers on the road:

  • Maintain control of bicycle
  • Wear a helmet
  • Use hand signal
    • Extend left arm out when signaling a left turn
    • Lift your left arm up, all fingers pointing upwards as you bend your elbow to signal a right turn
    • With your left elbow bent, hand pointing down, to signal that you’re slowing down or coming to a stop

Call Omega Law Group

We have represented clients who have been afflicted by various personal injuries, including Spinal Cord Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury, Soft Tissue Injury, and many more. Our awards and excellent testimonials are a result of our ability to empathize and attend to the needs of our clients. Here at Omega Law Group, you will come first. If you or a loved one is afflicted with an accident, reach out to our team. Visit our Contact Us page or call us at (310) 504-1852.

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