Safe Biking Tips

Thanks to Ryan Snyder for his help in compiling these!

Bicycles offer direct and convenient travel. However, cyclists must observe proper riding habits for safe journeys. The following presents a few guidelines for safer riding for cyclists and motorists:

  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Always ride in the same direction as traffic.
  • Be predictable and ride in a straight line. Do not weave in and out of parked cars
  • If the lane is wide enough to safely share with cars, ride to the right side. Do not try to share the lane if it is too narrow. Do not ride in broken pavement or debris at the side of the street. Take the center of the lane if necessary.
  • Ride far enough in the lane around parked cars so that you will not collide with opening car doors.
  • When proceeding straight through an intersection with right-turn lanes, move to the lane going straight and allow vehicles to turn right on your right side.
  • When making a left turn, move to the left before completing the turn, just like a motor vehicle. If you do not feel safe doing this, ride straight and cross the street you want to turn onto. At the other side of the street, dismount and turn your bike in your desired direction, then proceed when it is safe and legal to do so.
  • When riding at night, always wear light colored or reflective clothes, and use both front and taillights, as well as reflectors.

Motorists need to understand some bicycle safety as well.

  • Be aware that bicyclists use city streets and watch for them.
  • Understand that it is perfectly legal to ride a bicycle on city streets.
  • Give cyclists enough room for their safety.
  • If the lane is too narrow to safely share, cyclists are entitled to the whole travel lane.
  • Cyclists must leave space between themselves and parked cars, and must go around broken pavement or debris.
  • When these guidelines are observed, bicycling can be a safe, enjoyable way to get around.

If You've Been Harassed, Injured, or Hit:

(In the City of LA):

Try your best to get a complete license plate number of the car.

If the motorist stops, get their contact information.

If the motorist does not stop, look for witnesses, gather their contact information, and stay put while you file a police report with LAPD, call 1-877-ASK-LAPD. LAPD prefers to come to the scene of the incident. You'll need an attorney and we recommend LACBC friends: Jim Pocrass at Pocrass & De Los Reyes, LLP (se habla espanol): 310-550-9050; Gary Brustin (también se habla español): 800-841-2453;  and you may be able to file for damages in civil court, under the new Anti-Harassment Ordinance (July 2011).

(If in other cities in LA County):

Follow the same steps, but call your local police station. The Anti-Harassment Ordinance only applies to harassment, injuries, and/or crashes in the City of Los Angeles.

More Bicycle Safety Resources 

Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute - An active, non-profit consumer-funded program acting as a clearinghouse and a technical resource for bicycle helmet information.

Bicycling Street Smarts: Riding Confidently, Legally and Safely - A compact tutorial that will increase your safety and confidence while bicycling on any road, whether you are a beginner or an expert. You'll have more fun and feel better about riding, be it for pleasure, fitness or transportation.