The roads can be hazardous for cyclists at the best of times. However, high volumes of traffic can mean that risks are heightened.
Cyclists do not have the same levels of physical protection that larger motor vehicles enjoy. This means that the results of motor vehicle-bicycle collisions can be catastrophic. Research suggests that at least 1,000 cyclists are killed each year in collisions with motor vehicles in the United States.
As a result, it is important to understand the laws relating to bicycles in California. Outlined below are three common misconceptions regarding the law and cyclists.
Cyclists do not have equal rights to the road
A common misconception is that a cyclist’s legal right to the road is not protected by statute. However, the law in California clearly states that cyclists have both equivalent rights and obligations as any other motor vehicle operator.
Cyclists must use the shoulder of the road
Another common misconception is that cyclists are obliged to use the shoulder of the road. Although they can do so if they wish, they are not required to do so. However, it is important to note that the law states that cyclists should ride on the right-hand side as far as it is practical and move at a slower speed than other traffic.
Cyclists must use designated bicycle lanes
Operators of motor vehicles are often of the opinion that cyclists must use designated cycle lanes. However, this is not necessarily the case. Cyclists are only obliged to use cycle lanes when traveling at a slower pace than the rest of the traffic.
Importantly, even when cyclists are in designated lanes, they can merge into traffic lanes when overtaking or passing other vehicles. Furthermore, cyclists can change lanes when making a left turn as long as it is safe to do so.
Separating misconceptions from reality with regards to bicycle laws could be in your best interests. As a cyclist, it is important to note that you have legal rights and protections.