Four Basic Tips for Motorists and Cyclists

Bicyclists come out even more during the summer, so if you’re one of them, make sure to read the following tips from UniAmerica Insurance and the California DMV to enjoy riding the rest of your summer!

1. Maintain Control of Your Bicycle

  • Ensure your bicycle is the right size and properly adjusted to fit you.
    • A properly-fitted bicycle is more comfortable and easier to control. Ask a bicycle shop associate to help pick the best fit for you.
  • Ensure your bicycle is in good working order by inspecting it regularly.
    • Per CVC §21201(a), it is unlawful to operate a bicycle that is not equipped with functioning brakes.

Convictions are punishable by a fine of up to $250. If you are under 21, but over 13 years of age, your driving privilege will be suspended or delayed for one year once you are eligible to drive.

2. Protect Yourself

Properly-fitted helmets provide protection from a potentially life-threatening head injury. By law, bicycle riders under 18 years old must wear a bicycle helmet while riding on a public road (CVC §21212).

Wear your helmet per manufacturer directions.

Right and wrong way to wear a bicycle helmet.

 3. Be Visible and Alert

Even if you obey all traffic laws, there is always a risk of a collision.

  • Stop for vehicles waiting at stop signs, in driveways, or parking spaces, which may suddenly pull out in front of you.
  • Use hand signals before making turns or changing lanes to warn traffic around you. You do not have to keep your arm extended while completing maneuvers; always have at least one hand on the handlebars to maintain control.
    • To signal a left turn, look behind you, over your left shoulder, and then extend your left arm out.
    • To signal a right turn, hold your left arm up with your elbow bent.
    • To signal that you are slowing or stopping, extend your left arm down.

Left turn signal from bicyclist.Right turn signal from bicyclist.Stopping or slowing down signal from bicyclist.

Using lights and reflectors at night is the law (CVC §21201). During darkness, bicyclists should avoid wearing dark clothing and must have the following equipment:

  • A front lamp emitting a white light visible from a distance of 300 feet.
  • A rear red reflector or a solid or flashing red light with a built in reflector visible from a distance of 500 feet.
  • A white or yellow reflector on each pedal or on the bicyclist’s shoes or ankles visible from a distance of 200 feet.
  • A white or yellow reflector on the front wheel, a white or red reflector on the rear wheel, or reflectorized tires.

Use mirrors only as an aid. Always look over your shoulder to make sure the lane is clear before turning or changing lanes.

 4. Ride in a Safe Lane Position

Ride in the same direction as traffic so you are more visible to drivers entering roads or changing lanes in the following scenarios:

  • Passing a vehicle or another bicycle in the same direction.
  • Preparing to make a left turn at an intersection, into a private road, or at a driveway.
  • When necessary to avoid a hazard or road condition (i.e., pedestrians, animals, surface hazards).
  • When a lane is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
  • When approaching a right turn.
  • If the road is one-way with two or more lanes. In this case, a bicyclist may ride as near to the left curb or edge of roadway as possible.

If you are shopping for vehicle insurance help you today!

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