May is National Bicycle Safety Month. The Ventura Police Department and the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) will be focusing on bicycle safety enforcement operations throughout the month. Special patrols will be deployed to look for drivers and bicyclists who violate traffic laws meant to protect all roadway users.
With about 80 million bike riders sharing the road with millions of vehicles, the importance of safety precautions in traffic cannot be overstated.
Autos: California law now mandates at least three feet of clearance when passing a cyclist. Look for cyclists before opening a car door or pulling out from a parking space. Yield to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals. Be especially watchful for riders when making turns. It is unlawful to drive in a bike lane except for 200 feet prior to make a right or left turn.
Bikes: Wear properly fitted bicycle helmets every time you ride. Cyclists who wear a helmet reduce their risk of head injury by an estimated 60%, and brain injury by 58%. A helmet is the single most effective way to prevent head injury resulting from a bicycle crash. Riders are considered vehicle operators; they are required to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals, and lane markings. When cycling in the street, cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic. Bicyclists should increase their visibility to drivers by wearing fluorescent or brightly colored clothing during the day, and at dawn and dusk.
To be noticed when riding at night, the law requires a front light and a red reflector to the rear. For additional safety, use a flashing rear light, and use retro-reflective tape or markings on equipment or clothing.