Do you need to have lights or reflectors to legally bike?

On Behalf of | Dec 7, 2022 | Bicycle Accidents |

As a cyclist in Los Angeles, you are constantly at risk of a traffic incident. You never know when someone posting to social media or talking on the phone will completely fail to notice you at an intersection.

Typically, you will have a very straightforward claim against a driver who causes the crash. Obviously, you would prefer to avoid such collisions when possible. Cyclists often invest in specialized visibility gear to keep people from hitting them out in traffic. In fact, you could end up partially at fault for a crash if you don’t keep your vehicle equipped appropriately.

What does California state law require from cyclists who will be on the road during darkness?

State law requires lights and reflectors

Although not every bicycle comes with lights installed, most already have the basic reflectors required by state law. Every cyclist should have a rear red reflector that is visible from 500 feet behind the bicycle or red light in the rear of their bicycle. They also need a front light that drivers can see at least 300 feet in front of the bicycle and from either side of the bicycle.

There should be white or yellow reflectors on the pedals of the bicycle or the shoes if the bike requires the rider to clip in. They should be bright enough to be visible from 200 feet from the front or rear. There should also be a white or yellow reflector on the front wheel or elsewhere on the front half of the bicycle and also a red or white reflector on the back half of the bicycle. Tires that are reflectorized are also an option.

Many cyclists choose to purchase rechargeable or kinetic lights that they install on their bicycles.

What if your bicycle doesn’t meet state standards?

In theory, a lack of proper lights and reflectors will not typically result in someone being primarily to blame for a bicycle crash. However, if you file a large insurance claim or pursue a lawsuit against the other driver, your non-compliant bicycle might affect the outcome of your claim.

Comparative fault rules in California allow the courts to assign you partial responsibility for the collision because of the issues with your bicycle, and such determinations would reduce how much you receive in a successful lawsuit. Keeping your bike compliant with state law will both protect you from crashes and from claims you are to blame if you ever experience a bicycle crash with a vehicle.