Bike - Safety Awareness

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  • Safety Awareness

  • Teaming Up for Cycling Safety

    With its year-round great weather, miles of beaches and mountains and well-maintained streets, Orange County and bike riding fit together naturally. More and more people are choosing to ride as part of their daily commute as well as for recreation. And all of us share the road; it’s the law.

    Bike safety is everyone’s responsibility. That includes bike riders of all ages, motorists, pedestrians, and OCTA. Together, we can team up for cycling safety and enjoy moving throughout Orange County and beyond.

    Become a safe and more confident bicyclist with bicycle safety courses led by the OCTA. To sign up for classes that will be offered in 2020 please contact Peter Sotherland, Active Transportation Coordinator, at or (714) 560-5386.

    Understanding how to share the road

    All traffic crashes are preventable. To encourage bike safety, OCTA is making information available that will assist both bike riders and motorists. You’ll find the latest on California rules and regulations plus safety tips and best practices on how to wear a helmet properly and use hand signals. To assist as many people as possible, there are special sections for children, adults, parents and guardians, motorists, and pedestrians. Information is also available in other languages.

    Working to make OC more bike-friendly

    OCTA is working with a variety of groups to make Orange County more bike-friendly while keeping public transportation safe and convenient for all. By taking the lead on regional planning, OCTA is building awareness of the need for consistent bike policies throughout Orange County’s 34 cities and five districts. Nearly 700 additional miles of bike lanes are planned throughout the county.

    Programs that encourage residents to get out ride and a pilot bikesharing program are helping integrate bike riding into the normal fabric of everyday transportation in Orange County. Sharing the road safely is OCTA’s goal for all who travel in Orange County.

    Other Resources

    • Bike Safety for Adults

      Ready to head out on your bike? Before you do, take a look at the following safety rules and tips. Even experienced riders will find useful information to help ensure safe and enjoyable cycling throughout Orange County.

      Safety rules and tips

      Know the law

      Cyclists have a legal right to share the road. That privilege comes with responsibilities. Understand the laws governing traffic safety, safe riding procedures, bike equipment, and more.

      Wear a helmet.

      Head injuries are the most serious type of injury and the most common cause of death for bicyclists. Bicycle helmets have been proven to reduce the risk of head and brain injury when a crash occurs by as much as 85 to 88 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. So even though helmets are required only for bike riders 18 and under, it’s clear that wearing one offers protection. Find more about helmets and how to properly fit yours here.

      Learn hand signals.

      Hand signals communicate changes in direction and speed and help others adjust their movements in relationship to yours. California law requires cyclists to use them when turning left or right or when stopping or slowing. Learn them here.

      Be visible.

      Wear bright colors. Equip your bike with a headlight and rear reflector. There are about 11,000 bicycle collisions a year in California that result in injuries or fatalities, many due to a lack of visibility, according to AAA.

      Pay attention.

      Don’t ride distracted. Keep the music and phone for another time. And don’t ride your bike if you’ve been drinking alcohol. Alcohol is a contributing factor in 1 out of 4 crashes involving bicycle-related fatalities.

      Ride With Traffic

      Ride with traffic on the right side of the road; it’s the best way to share the road with motorists. If you’re traveling slower than the speed of traffic, California law requires you to use a bike lane if one is available.

      Take a bike class.

      Improve your skills and safety awareness with a local bike class. It’s a great way for both enthusiasts and commuters to learn about everything from riding in traffic to bike maintenance.

      Obey all traffic regulations

      Riding predictably and following the law are the keys to safe bicycling. Knowing and using hand signals, and following the rules, helps all road users properly anticipate and react to each other.

      Ride on sidewalks only if you can do so safely and carefully

      By law, bicyclists in Orange County must not ride on the sidewalk with a willful disregard for safety. Pedestrians have the right of way on walkways. If you must ride on sidewalks, please do so at a walking pace. Slow down and look very carefully for traffic at driveways or intersections.

      Ride in a straight line

      Avoid weaving between parked cars. Don’t hug the curb and ride in a straight line at least 4 feet away from parked cars to avoid opening and opened car doors.

      When necessary, use the entire lane

      Move toward the center when the lane is too narrow for motorists to pass safely or when you are moving at the same speed as traffic.

      To cross an intersection, use the lane farthest to the right in your direction of travel

      Follow lane markings to cross an intersection. If you can't turn left, ride across the street to the other side and align your bike with traffic.

      Stop at red lights and stop signs

      Drivers in cross traffic may not expect or see you if you run a red light or stop sign, especially if they are approaching the intersection with speed. Behave like a car and stop at all red lights and stop signs.

      Avoid the "door zone"

      This is the 3 to 4 feet along the left side of a parked car where an opening door can hit and seriously injure a bicyclist. STAY OUT OF IT!

      Use bicycle lanes, when available

      When riding in a bike lane, ride to the left side of the lane, at least 3 to 4 feet from parked cars.

      Look for a driver inside parked cars before passing

      If you can't see inside or you see a driver inside, move outside the "Door Zone," or slow down and pass carefully.

      Watch behind you

      Keep track of and listen for traffic behind you. A mirror may help you see traffic behind you as you pedal forward.

      Wear a Helmet

      A properly fitted helmet is one of the best and easiest ways to reduce the chance of brain injury or death in the event of a collision. Helmet use can help prevent 85 percent of all head and brain injuries when worn correctly, according to AAA. Even a low-speed crash can do major damage to your brain.
      Unfortunately, only 20 to 25 percent of cyclists wear helmets – even though 70 percent of all fatal bicycle crashes involve head injuries. Under California law, everyone under age 18 must wear a helmet while cycling.
      Don’t be a statistic. Be safe and invest in a helmet that fits properly and meets the standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the SNELL Standards for Protective Headgear.

      Choosing a Helmet

      Helmets come in all different sizes, shapes and colors. You can choose one that’s simply functional or one that makes a fashion statement.
      Just choose one that fits. And if you’re in an accident, buy a new helmet. Even though you may not be able to tell by looking at it, your old helmet may be compromised and unsafe. Toss it.

      Tips for Fitting Your Helmet

      1. Get the correct size.
        Your helmet size is based on the size of your head, not your age. Get someone to help you measure your head just above your eyebrows. Your helmet should cover your forehead. Don’t push it back – move it down so it’s no more than an inch above your eyebrows.
      2. Adjust the pads.
        Adjust the foam pads inside the helmet for a snug fit.
      3. Adjust the straps.
        Your ear straps should form a “V” just below each ear.
      4. Test the fit.
        Rock your helmet back and forth. The straps should only move one inch.
    • Safety rules and tips

      Wear a helmet. Every time you ride.

      In California, kids under 18 must wear a helmet. That’s because your brain is fragile and can be damaged easily. Learn about helmets and how to put them on properly.

      Take care of your bike.

      And it will help take care of you. Check your brakes, tires and chains and make sure your bike will respond properly so you can avoid danger.

      Help others see you.

      That means bright clothing on you, rear reflectors and head lamps on your bike. California law specifies the type of lights and reflectors required.

      Avoid riding at dusk or at night.

      Daytime riding is much safer. It’s harder for cars to see you at night and harder for you to see, too.

      No headphones. No cell phones.

      Be alert and focus on riding, not on your favorite tune or your BFF’s latest news. You’ll be able to see and hear warnings that will increase your safety.

      Don't carry passengers on your bike.

      Unless you have a tandem bike, one bike seat means one rider.

      Be street safe.

      If you’re allowed to ride in the street, treat cars and trucks with respect. Remember that they may have difficulty seeing you. Help them and help yourself by always riding in the same direction as the cars are going. Walk your bike across intersections. And be careful passing parked cars to avoid being struck by a car door.

      Be courteous on the sidewalk.

      Before you ride on the sidewalk, find out if it’s OK in your town. Be careful of the walkers. Don’t ride too fast or too close. Watch for cars coming in and out of driveways.

      Obey traffic rules.

      When you’re on your bike, you’re on a vehicle. Just like a car, you need to stop at stop signs and traffic lights.

      Learn hand signals.

      Smart cyclists use hand signals to let others know where they’re going. Do you know this special form of communication? Find out here!

      Be a 'roll' model.

      Learn these bike safety rules and help keep your friends and family safe.

      Wear a Helmet

      Can you guess which sport sends most kids between ages 5 and 14 to the emergency room? If you guessed biking, you would be right. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more children in that age group wind up in the hospital for bicycle-related injuries than with any other sport, many of them with head injuries. Don’t be one of them!

      It’s the Law

      Wear a helmet every time you ride. That’s the law in California if you’re under 18. Your helmet is your most important piece of safety equipment. Even if you’re an awesome bike rider, accidents can happen. Be prepared and be safe.

      Get a Good Fit

      Helmets are so important that the U.S. government has created safety standards for them. Use a helmet that meets the standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the SNELL Standards for Protective Headgear.

      Make sure your helmet fits well and never wear a hat underneath. Keep the helmet level and covering your forehead and keep those chin straps fastened. This is important stuff, so ask your parents or someone from the bike shop for help.

      Tips for Fitting Your Helmet

      1. Get the correct size.
        Your helmet size is based on the size of your head, not your age. Get someone to help you measure your head just above your eyebrows. Your helmet should cover your forehead. Don’t push it back – move it down so it’s no more than an inch above your eyebrows.
      2. Adjust the pads.
        Adjust the foam pads inside the helmet for a snug fit.
      3. Adjust the straps.
        Your ear straps should form a “V” just below each ear.
      4. Test the fit.
        Rock your helmet back and forth. The straps should only move one inch.
    • Bike Safety for Motorists

      Cycling is becoming increasingly popular throughout Orange County and beyond. By law, bicycles on the road have the same rights and responsibilities as other vehicles. Understanding the rules and using caution and courtesy can help make travel safer for all who share the road. Remember that every time you see a cyclist, that means there is one less car on the road.

      Safety rules and tips

      Know and obey the law.

      Did you know that you must allow a clearance of at least 3 feet when passing a cyclist? And that a bike rider can use an entire traffic lane when the lane is too narrow to be shared?

      Expect cyclists.

      People on bikes increasingly share the road with motorists. Expect them to be there and watch for them especially when turning, parking, backing up, and opening car doors.

      Understand cyclist behavior.

      Motorists may endanger bicyclists because they are unaware of common cyclist behavior. Cyclists frequently have to move to the left in a traffic lane to avoid hazards that may not be an issue for a car or truck. Be realistic about bike travel speeds. They often travel at 15-20 miles an hour on city streets, faster than many motorists realize. If turning in front of a cyclist, take this speed into account and adjust your timing accordingly. Do not pass a cyclist if you will be making a right turn immediately afterward.

      Be alert.

      Watch for cyclists and pedestrians at all times just as you would for other cars. Yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and scan the road ahead for cyclists and pedestrians. Use particular caution when driving around cycling children because they may behave unpredictably.

      Be careful opening your car door.

      Look before opening the driver side door to avoid striking a cyclist.

      Don’t drive distracted

      Alcohol, drugs, lack of sleep, and cell phones can impair judgment.

      Exercise patience.

      Think of a bicycle as a slow-moving car and approach and pass them with caution, courtesy and plenty of room. Remember, however, that cyclists are very vulnerable in a collision and drive with that thought in mind.

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