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Use common sense when bicyclists and drivers share the road

While Los Angeles is becoming more proactive about protecting the rights of bike riders and designating lanes as bicycle lanes, there are still plenty of roads in and around L.A. that do not have bike lanes.

When no bike lane exists, riders must share the road with traffic by riding on the side of the roadway. This can be tricky in areas where there is no shoulder or when the shoulder is a gravel surface that can cause tires to wobble and bikes to topple.

If traffic is light, bikers may be able to ride more toward the lane's center. However, this is not a good plan when traffic speeds greatly exceed a bicycle's slower pace. This option is best exercised in cases where the traffic and biking speed are relatively the same. Riding closer to the center enhances a cyclist's visibility to drivers by allowing the two-wheelers to stay out of motorists' blind spots.

When drivers need to pass bicyclists, exercising patience is a must. Remember that they can only pedal so fast and that they have the right to be on the road just as drivers do. Never encroach on a cyclist to where he or she is forced off of the road. When passing, maintaining a three foot clearance is optimum.

Bicyclists have to obey the same traffic signals that drivers do. They should never count on traffic yielding to them, as it is no use being right but winding up dead. Yellow lights are particularly dangerous for cyclists, as their slower pace could get them caught up in the crush of oncoming traffic.

When cyclists have to make a left turn, they need to glance over their shoulder to check for traffic. Signaling your intentions and moving into position to prevent being blocked from turning is important.

Preventing bike injuries should be the goal of every driver and rider. If you are injured, seeking compensation through a civil claim can put some money back into your pocket after a wreck.

Source: California Department of Motor Vehicles, "Sharing the Road (FFDL 37) Safety Tips for Bicyclists and Motorists," accessed Feb. 26, 201

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