A bicycle is no match for a motor vehicle, and a collision between the two can lead to grave injuries and even death for the biker. Drivers have an obligation to look out for bikers and to take reasonable and appropriate steps to avoid accidents with them. At the same time, bicyclists should do all that they can to help ensure their own safety while riding on streets with automobile traffic.
If a driver in a car or other vehicle cannot easily see a biker, the risk of a collision increases. Visibility is especially important when riding a bike at night. Riders should always make themselves as visible as possible, which may mean wearing bright clothing while riding. They should also have the proper reflectors and lights on their bicycle.
In California, state law requires that anyone who rides in darkness must have a lamp on their bike that emits white light while the bicycle is moving. The light must also be bright enough to light up the area in front of the biker, and it has to be visible from at least 300 feet away and from either side of the bicycle. Furthermore, the bike must be equipped with a rear reflector that is solid red or flashes red light; the reflector has to be visible from 500 feet away when the bike is directly in front of a motor vehicle's headlamps. Likewise, each pedal or shoe area of the bike must have a white or yellow reflector that is visible from the front and rear at a distance of 200 feet. Side or tire reflectors are also required under the California Vehicle Code.
Riding a bicycle at night requires some extra precautions, including having the proper equipment that complies with California law. Drivers should also do their part to avoid bicycle accidents by watching for people who may be riding at night.
Source: California Vehicle Code, "ARTICLE 4. Operation of Bicycles," accessed on March 7, 2016