Bicyclists are common throughout Orange County, and in some areas, they share the roads with motor vehicles. When a bike rider is on a roadway, drivers in cars and trucks must take reasonable precautions to keep the bicyclist safe. This means not only following all traffic control devices, but also slowing down or yielding to the rider in certain situations. But what about the bicyclists, what are the rules of the road for them in California?
State law does not categorize bicycles as vehicles, but bikers are still subject to California's rules of the road, as well as certain provisions of the California Vehicle Code. One such law requires bicyclists to ride as far to the right side of the road as possible when other traffic is moving faster than the bike. That requirement does have a few exceptions, however, including one that allows the biker to move from the right side of the road when preparing to make a left turn at an intersection or onto a private road.
Another section of the California Vehicle Code provides that bikers who are moving slower than other traffic must use a designated bicycle lane, if one exists on that roadway. This requirement also has exceptions; for example, a rider can leave the designated riding lane if necessary to avoid hazardous conditions on the bicycle lane. Furthermore, bikers can leave the bicycle lane to pass another rider or pedestrian, or if necessary to make a left turn.
In addition to adhering to the Vehicle Code, bicyclists in California should also take any other reasonable steps to keep themselves safe while riding. Wearing a helmet, for instance, can help bikers avoid head injuries. While California's Vehicle Code states that anyone who is under the age of 18 must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, riders of all ages can benefit from wearing a helmet.
The rules of the road in California are supposed to help prevent bike accidents involving automobiles. Of course, even the safest bicyclists can fall victim to a negligent driver. Bicyclists who are hit by automobiles can suffer severe injuries because the rider has little protection, and cannot withstand an impact the way that a person in an automobile can. In these situations, the driver has legal responsibility for any resulting injuries.