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Safety Tips for Bicyclists

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The Manhattan Beach Police Department wants you to have a safe bike ride.  Here are some safety tips to help:

Seven Smart Routes to Bicycle Safety (from the NHTSA):

  1. Protect Your Head - Wear a Helmet
  2. Assure Bicycle Readiness - Ensure Proper Size and Function of Bicycle
  3. Ride Wisely - Learn and Follow the Rules of the Road
  4. Be Predictable - Act like a Driver of a Vehicle
  5. Be Visible - See and Be Seen at All Times
  6. "Drive” with Care - Share the Road
  7. Stay Focused, Stay Alert

Protect Your Head - Wear a Helmet

Even a simple fall can cause a life threatening head injury. Helmets provide protection. By law, bicycle riders under 18 years of age must wear a bicycle helmet while riding on a public road (California Vehicle Code (CVC) §21212).  Adult riders are also highly encouraged to wear a helmet.

Proper fit of bicycle helmets is very important. It should fit snugly on your head and rest securely on your forehead. To be most effective, it must sit centered on the top of the head, not tilted forward or backward.


Proper fit of bicycle helmets is very important.

Proper Helmet Fit

Make sure the straps are adjusted securely every time you ride.  For more detailed information about fitting a helmet properly, visit the NHTSA website. 

Assure Bicycle Readiness

Ensure your bicycle is the right size and is properly adjusted to fit you. A properly fitted bicycle is easier to control, is more comfortable, and causes less fatigue. Also ensure your bicycle is in good working order by inspecting it regularly.  Routine maintenance can be simple and you can learn to do it yourself, or you can leave it to an expert at a local bike shop.

Ride Wisely - Learn and Follow the Rules of the Road

According to State law, bicyclists are considered vehicles on the road and must follow traffic laws that apply to motor vehicles.

Use hand signals when you stop or make a turn.Never ride against traffic.  Motorists aren't looking for bicyclists riding on the wrong side of the road.

Obey traffic lights, signs, speed limits, and lane markings. 

Signal in advance of a turn - using correct hand signals (pictured right).  Hand signals indicate your intention to drivers.  

Ride in a straight line whenever possible, with a car door's width between your bike and parked cars.

Reference the California Driver Handbook to become familiar with California laws pertaining to bicyclists on roadways. 

Be Predictable - Act Like a Driver of a Vehicle

Always ride with the flow of traffic, and as far to the right of the road as practicable and safe. Motorists do not expect to see traffic coming in the opposite direction or on the sidewalk. When motorists don't expect to see you, they may pull across your path or turn into you, causing a crash.

Make eye contact with drivers.  Assume drivers can't see you until you know they do.

Choose the best way to turn left:  

  1. Like an auto.  Signal, move into the left lane, and turn left. 
  2. Like a pedestrian.  Ride straight to the far side of the crosswalk and
    walk your bike across.

Observe ALL the traffic rules, don't weave in and out of traffic, and use hand signals when turning or stopping.

Be Visible:  See and Be Seen at ALL Times

Always assume that you are not seen by others. Increase your visibility by wearing light or bright colored clothes, such as yellow or lime green. Even if you obey all traffic laws, there is always a risk of being hit by a motorist who is not obeying the laws, or who simply does not see you. Cyclists must take responsibility for being visible to motorists, pedestrians, and other cyclists.

Using lights and reflectors at night is the law (CVC §21201). If you are riding after dark you should also have a white light for the front of your bike and a red light for the rear. Your local bicycle shop will be able to advise you which lights best suit your bicycle and riding style.

Mirrors provide opportunities for increased awareness of your surroundings, but use mirrors only as an aid. Always look over your shoulder to make sure the lane is clear before turning or changing lanes. 

"Drive” with Care - Share the Road

When you ride, consider yourself the driver of a vehicle and always keep safety in mind. Choose to ride in the bike lane, if available.

If the roadway or bike lane is wide, ride to the right; if the lane is narrow, you may choose to ride in the middle of the lane just like a motorized vehicle. Take extra precautions when riding on a roadway.

Bicycles are smaller than motor vehicles, and don’t protect the operator like a motor vehicle. Be considerate and aware of motorists and pedestrians. You should make eye contact, smile, or wave to communicate with motorists. Courtesy and predictability are a key to safe cycling. 

Ride far enough away from the curb to avoid the unexpected from parked cars (i.e. opening doors or drivers pulling out without checking).

Always slow down through intersections looking to the right and left before proceeding. This is important even if you have the right of way.

Stay Focused, Stay Alert.

Always look ahead for obstacles in your path (potholes, loose gravel, sand, etc). Be aware of traffic around you and ride defensively.

Always carry identification in case of an accident. The identification should include your name, age, address and phone number, as well as the name and phone number of who to contact in case of an emergency. (This is for everybody, not just for kids!)

Secure Your Bike

Always lock your bike, even if you are just going to leave it unattended for a minute.  We encourage you to invest in a good quality lock - none is as expensive as a new bike.  A U-shaped high security lock can be very effective.  Lock the frame and rear wheel to a fixed object.  If you have a quick release front wheel, you should lock it as well.  Register your bike with the National Bike Registry and keep your bike's serial number in a safe place so that if your bike is stolen, there is a way for Police to identify the bike as yours when it is found.

Bike Safety Links

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