It's clear that cyclists are in a fair amount of danger when riding, as 2012 saw 49,000 injuries and 726 deaths. In 2011, there were only 682 deaths, so 2012 actually showed an upward trend in this regard. With this in mind, what are some things you can do to stay safe while riding in California?
First, always ride on the same side as the traffic that is going in your direction. You want the cars to come up behind you, as fewer accidents happen when cars are moving in this direction, as opposed to coming toward cyclists.
Additionally, this reduces the speed if there is an impact; if a car is coming toward you at 50 mph and you're heading toward it at 20 mph, it's a combined speed of 70 mph, but you can subtract your own 20 mph if the car is behind you, giving you a total of just 30 mph.
Next, stay off the sidewalks. They may feel like they're safer since you're farther from the cars, but drivers do not expect bikes on the sidewalks and they don't look for them. You can easily be hit when you cross a street in this fashion.
If you're going to turn, make use of hand signals. Cars may be coming up behind you faster than you think, and they need advanced warning to know that you're slowing down or turning. If you don't signal, they could try to pass you right as you turn so that you turn directly into a car's path.
Naturally, all of the safety tips in the world can't prevent all accidents, so you also want to make sure you know what legal options you have if you're hit or if a loved one is killed.
Source: Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, "Safety Tips for Bicyclists," accessed April. 24, 201