Safety Resources

LACBC Bike Smart Guide

Download a printable version of LACBC’s Bike Smart Pocket Guide

Bike Basics

Ride on the Street – You have a right to ride on the street. You are NOT required to ride on the sidewalk. For the most part, bicycle riders have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicle drivers. CVC 21200 Exception: Freeways and some bridges may have signs posted forbidding bicyclists. Take the Lane – If a travel lane is too narrow to safely share side by side with a motor vehicle, you can prevent unsafe passing by riding near the center of the lane. The law says that people who ride bikes must ride as close to the right side of the road as practicable except under the following conditions: when passing, preparing for a left turn, avoiding hazards, if the lane is too narrow to share, or if approaching a place where a right turn is authorized. On two-lane roads where it’s illegal or unsafe to pass, you must turn off the roadway at a designated or safe location to allow a line of five or more vehicles behind you to pass. CVC 21202 (a)(3), CVC 21656 Obey All Signs, Street Markings, and Signals – Bicycle riders must obey the same rules as vehicle drivers. This includes stopping at red lights and stop signs. CVC 21200 Look and Yield Before You Go – You must yield to traffic before entering the roadway. CVC 21804 Ride With Traffic, Not Against It – You must ride on the right half of the roadway, with the flow of traffic. CVC 21650 Exception: you can ride on either the left or right side of one-way streets. Ride Outside the Door Zone – It’s the responsibility of motor vehicle drivers to make sure it’s clear before opening a door. Despite this, a practical guide is to ride at least three feet from parked cars. CVC 22517 Ride to the Right, But Within Limits – When riding slower than the normal speed of traffic, you are required to ride as far right as “practicable” (meaning safe). You are not required to ride as far right as possible, which may not be safe. You are allowed, but not required, to ride on the shoulder. CVC 21202, CVC 21650, CVC 21650.1 Signal and Yield When Moving Left or Right – Use hand signals to indicate when you are turning, changing lanes, or stopping. Move left or right only when it’s clear to do so. CVC 22107, CVC 22111 Use the Bike Lane, But Leave It When Needed – When riding slower than the normal speed of traffic, you must ride in the bike lane in the same direction as adjacent traffic. You can leave the bike lane to pass another bicyclist or a vehicle blocking the lane, to make a left turn, to avoid debris or hazards, or where a right-turning vehicle might cut you off. You must check before leaving the bike lane to make sure it can be done with “reasonable safety.” CVC 21208 If you’re blocked in the bike lane, you can call LADOT at (213) 485-4184
or (818) 374-4823 to report what is blocking you. Once you’re off your bike, you can fill out LACBC’s form at in as much detail as possible to help us gather data on what’s blocking Angelenos while riding in the bike lane. Biking on Sidewalks – Each city in California has its own rules about riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. Some cities allow sidewalk riding, some don’t. Check your city’s municipal code here. CVC 21206

Click here for a round-up of all California Bicycle Laws from CalBike

Biking in the Rain

Los Angeles is a great place to bike year-round. We get about 34 days of rain every year, which doesn’t sound like a lot until it happens to be on a day you need to ride your bike. Handling the water and even a heavy downpour can be manageable. All you need to combat the conditions is a little bit of preparedness and know-how. Once you get the hang of it, bicycling in the rain can work for you; some people even enjoy it. Here are some tips to help get your through those rainy days: Avoid puddles. It may be impossible to circumnavigate the collections of water on the road, but be aware of what lies underneath. Puddles can hide such hazards as cracks, potholes, glass, and other debris that might compromise your ability to stay upright. Always think a couple of steps ahead. Dress for the part. Make sure to purchase rain gear, such as a waterproof jacket, rain cape, or pants. Be careful about riding with a hood, as you need to hear what’s going on around you at all times. Also, make sure whatever bags you bring along keep the contents dry inside. Take extra care when braking. With all that wetness, stopping your bike will take longer than you’re accustomed too. It’s very important to give yourself extra space in case you have to brake suddenly. Remember that other vehicles on the road will have the same issues stopping as well. Be seen. Make sure you have reflectors on your bike, as well as rear and front lights, no matter the time of day. You can also wear brightly-colored clothing to increase your visibility to the other people using the roadway. Know where to ride. It is important to make your presence known out on the street because rainy conditions can hinder other people’s awareness. Be confident in taking the lane to assert your place in the roadway. It’s good to make sure you have a buffer on all sides in case you have to make a maneuver. Stay clear of paint stripes. Since it’s hard to identify cracks when the ground is wet, some bicyclists aim for the painted features in the street (lines, turn arrows, etc.), since it’s easier to visually assess their condition. You must beware that while these these markings look friendly, they are far more slippery when wet. Make it a high priority to avoid these surfaces, especially when you are making turns. Channel water away. Once your tires start collecting water, the tire rotation will make it spray upwards leaving you muddy and distracted from sprinkles landing in your eyes. A good idea is to add fenders to your bike, but a cheap alternative is to add plastic mudguards that will affix to your saddles for a fraction of the cost. You can also wear some form of glasses to keep water coming from all directions out of your eyes. Give yourself more grip. Since it will be far more slippery with all the water, a good suggestion is to ride with wider tires, especially if you’re riding with the narrow width that comes on most road and single speed bikes. Another tip is to deflate your tires 20%-30% less than normal to give you more traction. Do you have any other tips for riding in the rain? Share them in the comments section.

When to Move Left

Pass Motor Vehicles and Other Bicycles on the Left – You can move left when passing a vehicle or another bicycle traveling in the same direction. CVC 21202 (a)(1) You Can Turn Left Like a Car – You can turn left from the left turn lane. You cannot turn left from the right side of the roadway. CVC 21202 (a)(2), CVC 22100, CVC 22107 Move Left to Avoid Hazards – You can move left to avoid hazards like fixed or moving objects, bad surface conditions, animals, glass, etc. CVC 21202 (a)(3) Move Left to Avoid Intersection Conflicts – You can move left wherever a right or left turning vehicle might cross your path. CVC 21202 (a)(4)

Bikes & Pedestrians

Avoid Riding on Sidewalks – Each city in California has its own rules about riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. Some cities allow sidewalk riding, some don’t. Check your city’s municipal code here. CVC 21206 Yield to Pedestrians – Pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks (marked or unmarked) and on sidewalks. Bicyclists are also required to “exercise due care” for the safety of pedestrians in the roadway who are not in a crosswalk. CVC 21950, CVC 21952, CVC 21954

What to do when you get a ticket

Look at the vehicle code on the ticket and then look it up online. Make sure it’s valid. If it’s not valid, you can fight it. One example would be getting a ticket for no lights or reflectors during the day (the law only requires them at night). You can look up CA vehicle codes here: Make sure the ticket says “bicycle” or “bike” on it. This indicates you were cited while riding a bicycle and not driving a motor vehicle. This is important because the ticket should not show up on your driving record. You’re not required to have a driver’s license to ride a bike so a ticket for a traffic violation while riding a bike doesn’t apply to your driving record. If it doesn’t say “bicycle” on your ticket, make sure the court knows that it was a bicycle-related citation. Here’s the DMV website page that says points assigned for traffic violations do not apply to bicyclists or pedestrians: Follow the instructions on your ticket. If it says you have to set up a court date, do it. If it says you have to pay a fine and then you can contest, do that. Read the instructions carefully and follow them. Don’t blow it off. If you do, the fine will increase and it will eventually catch up to you. If you have a court date and you don’t show up, the judge probably won’t have any sympathy for you later. You can challenge the ticket, but you’ll have to go to court. Be honest about what happened. If there was an unusual circumstance to your citation, explain that. It might not get your citation dismissed, but the fine could be reduced. You may be able to do a “Trial by Written Declaration” instead of going to court in person. You can find the details about doing that here: Remember, the judge didn’t give you the ticket. Be polite and don’t try to tell the judge that the law is wrong, bicyclists shouldn’t be subject to the same rules, or bring up the stop laws in Idaho. It won’t work and you’re likely to annoy the judge. If you believe the citation is not valid in your case, bring a copy of the vehicle code that’s mentioned on your citation and be prepared to explain why you think it doesn’t apply. Bicycle traffic school is now an option legally. This is a new option than wasn’t available before this year. Unfortunately, there currently aren’t any bicycle traffic schools in Los Angeles. LACBC has been working to help change this in collaboration with the L.A. City Council and LAPD, but the status on this is currently pending. We posted about this in the past here. You can join our ongoing campaign to establish bicycle traffic schools by signing up here . Once established, bicyclists will be able to attend and get their fine reduced. Learn and follow the rules of the road. The LACBC Bike Smart pocket guide is a handy reference for the main vehicle codes in California that apply to bicyclists, although you are expected to follow the same rules, signs, signals, and street markings. You also eliminate 50% of the risk of being in a collision with a motor vehicle if you know and follow the rules. If you don’t have a CA driver’s license and don’t know those rules, you can get a driver’s handbook for free at a DMV office or online here: Take a bike education class with LACBC. We offer regular classes where you can learn about riding safely and legally. You can check our website calendar or sign up for our e-newsletter for announcements. Check your driving record after it’s all over. Even though your citation should NOT show up on your driving record, sometimes it still does due to clerical error. If you find that your citation shows up, contact the court to get it changed. The DMV will not change it unless the court tells them to do it.

Locking Your Bike

How to Lock Your Bike Find something sturdy to lock the bike to. Make sure thieves can’t simply lift the bike over it. Watch out for scaffolding and “sucker poles”—shake them first to ensure they’re solidly in the ground. As Kryptonite product manager Don Warren puts it, “The bike is only as secure as what you’re locking it to.” Wheel theft is on the rise. If you can’t lock one of yours, take it with you. But don’t park the bike that way long—thieves will start to strip it. Don’t use a U-lock around your bike’s top tube, says Michael McGettigan, owner of Trophy Bikes in Philadelphia. A thief could use the frame as a lever to pop it open. Use the lock to secure a wheel to your down tube. Locks are about buying time. A burly chain at least 12mm thick will delay thieves the longest. Remove the front wheel, then lock both wheels together with the frame, bike mechanic and lock expert Hal Ruzal suggests. Bike Theft Prevention Mark your bike. “A thief’s big concern is, ‘Can I sell this bike in 30 minutes?’” McGettigan says. “Thieves don’t want one that’s easily identifiable.” Write your initials at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock on each tire with a Sharpie.­ Or pen your name on the top tube and cover it with layers of clear packing tape. A thief can remove it with some effort, but it probably won’t be worth the hassle. Take a mug shot. Write your bike’s serial number in marker on paper and have someone photograph you displaying it next to your bike. Also take shots of identifying details and keep them stored in your phone. There’s no theft without proof of ownership. Have yours ready. Buy new locks. That Craigslist find might be a bargain, but it could be compromised or outdated. Where to Lock Your Bike Know your neighborhood. Talk to a local bike shop. The staff should be well versed on the amount of theft occurring in the neighborhood and may have some targeted advice about where (or where not) to lock up. Or check with a local advocacy organization. Steer Clear. Avoid stoops where people hang out on milk crates, McGettigan says—loiterers may tip off thieves. Don’t lock at train stations; park a block away so no one will think you’re gone all day. Best case: well-lit areas with foot traffic, near buildings with video surveillance. Still Want More? Go on the record. On Bike Shepherd, you can enter your bike’s serial number into a national database and buy three scannable, tamper-­resistant QR stickers for the frame. The idea is to make a would-be thief wonder if selling the bike will pose a hassle. BikeSpike uses GPS to locate your bike—and cellular technology to share that location in real time. Types of Bike Locks “First thing to remember is no bike lock is unbreakable. If a thief really wants to steal your bike, with the right tools and enough time, he can and he will. A bike lock just buys you time. And the better the lock, the more time you get.” Helpful Links How to Keep Your Bike from Getting Stolen Strongest Bike Locks

Required Equipment

Brakes: Bicycles must be equipped with a brake that allows an operator to execute a one-braked-wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement. CVC 21201(a) Handlebars: Handlebars must not be higher than the rider’s shoulders. CVC 21201(b) Bicycle size: Bicycles must be small enough for the rider to stop, support it with one foot on the ground, and start safely. CVC 21201(c) Lights at Night: At night a white headlight visible from the front must be attached to the bicycle or the bicyclist if riding when it’s dark. CVC 21201(d) and CVC 21201(e) Reflectors: At night bicycles must have the following reflectors: Visible from the back: red reflector. You may attach a solid or flashing red rear light in addition to the reflector. Visible from the front & back: white or yellow reflector on each pedal or on the bicyclist’s shoes or ankles Visible from the side: 1) white or yellow reflector on the front half of the bicycle and 2) a red or white reflector on each side of the back half of the bike. These reflectors are not required if the bike has reflectorized front and back tires. CVC 21201(d) Seats: All riders must have a permanent, regular seat, unless the bicycle is designed by the manufacturer to be ridden without a seat. Bicycle passengers weighing less than 40 lbs. must have a seat which retains them in place and protects them from moving parts. CVC 21204

Biking with Children

If you’re just starting out riding as a family, here is a list of our articles highlighting how to get started and many stories about riding for all ages: LACBC has a guide about buying the proper bike for your family. Walk Bike Glendale’s Steven Nancarrow talks about their annual Holiday Bike Ride. Joe Linton of Streetsblog LA tells us what it’s like to bike down the Pacific Coast Highway with his family. LA Bike Dad Terence Houston speaks about his evolution into becoming a cycling parent. Twelve-year-old cycling advocate Matlock Grossman tells us what it’s like to bike in Los Angeles as a kid. Nathan Lucero of On My Bike in LA is a well-known family cycling advocate and has led many Kidical Mass rides, on top of planning the route for the ride.

What To Do If Your Loved One is Killed in a Bike Crash

Losing a loved one to traffic violence is a painful and traumatic experience. Below are some resources where you can find support, or get involved with advocacy efforts. Resources Los Angeles Walks & Southern California Families for Safe Streets produced this resource guide for those who have lost a loved one to traffic violence. Support Groups Southern California Families for Safe Streets As individuals who have lost loved ones or been injured in traffic crashes, SoCal Families for Safe Streets offers support and opportunities for action to people who share our unique grief. They seek to make it socially unacceptable to drive recklessly and press for solutions like safe multi-modal streets to prevent other loved ones from enduring injury or harm. Families for Safe Streets envisions a city where pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles safely co-exist by encouraging the rapid implementation of Vision Zero. Join them or download their support guide. Families for Safe Streets NYC Although based in New York, FSS NYC has online facebook support groups, with links here. Advocacy Efforts Streets Are For Everyone Organization aiming to improve quality of life for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers alike by working to reduce traffic caused fatalities to Zero. World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims Third Sunday of every November, with events internationally. Milt Olin Foundation Foundation working to prevent distracted driving and make streets safe for everyone. Zachary Michael Cruz Foundation Berkeley-based foundation advocating for pedestrian safety across California. Started the initiative, also known as Drive Like Your Kid Died Here.

What to Do In Case of a Crash

If you’re in a crash on your bicycle, be sure to follow this list of tips: Take a moment and breathe. Assess your health, and don’t move if you feel injured. Remember that your own well-being is of primary importance. Wait for police to respond (they may only arrive if an injury is reported) Get prompt medical care Do not admit fault Do not talk to insurance reps Do not post on social media File a police report as soon as possible Preserve evidence (clothes, bike, bike parts, photos, videos) Contact an experienced bike collisions lawyer. Write down as much of this information as possible, and take photos and/or videos of the scene from various angles: License Plate Number State Driver Info (Name, address, phone, email, license, insurance) Witness Info (name, phone, email) Time Location (City, street, approximate address) If your loved one was killed in a bicycle crash, you can reach out to SoCal Families for Safe Streets, a project of Los Angeles Walks.



Online resources Printable safety materials Reports, blog updates, and articles


Metro BEST: Bicycle Education & Safety Training Classes & Rides With funding and support from Metro, LACBC offers free bicycle education classes for adults who are new to riding or have recently gotten back into riding and want to refresh their skills. There are three class levels to choose from, starting with the most basic riding skills. All three classes include on-bike instruction. We also offer beginner group community rides for the same adults, as well as teens and children. Pre-registration is required for classes and all class attendees get a free helmet and bicycle lights. Here’s a list of our upcoming Metro BEST classes and rides, and be sure to check back regularly (or sign up for our e-newsletter) for updates. Click here to see our events calendar for a listing of upcoming LACBC Metro BEST classes. Bicycling 101 – If you know how to ride a bike, but may be uncomfortable using a bike for everyday travel or recreation. This class covers bike safety basics with an engaging and interactive off-bike presentation. Bike 1 – Back to Basics. If you know how to ride a bike, but you aren’t comfortable using a bicycle for everyday travel or recreation, then this class may be for you. Bike 2 – Rules of the Road. This class will help you understand the rules of the road and provide practical skills so that riders are able to navigate city streets safely and use bikes for everyday travel. Bike 3 – Street Skills. If you are comfortable getting on a bike and want to gain more experience bicycling on city streets in a group setting? This class will apply practical skills and critical thinking in real-world settings and will build off skills learned in the Bike 1 & Corporate Brown Bag Classes LACBC also offers one hour presentation classes sponsored by Metro BEST as well as our own courses. These classes are typically scheduled for employees to attend while at work, but they can also be scheduled for evenings or weekends at a variety of locations such as libraries, bike shops, and community centers. If you are interested in scheduling a class, please contact us. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact us. Fix a Flat Clinic – Currently on hold Rules of the Road for Bicyclists – Currently on hold How to Avoid Crashes and Road Hazards – Currently on hold