Rules of the Road Every Biker Must Know
Motorcycle laws in California vary widely and, in a few select cases, are quite bizarre. For both current motorcyclists and those who are considering acquiring a motorcycle license, it is important to understand how traffic codes and insurance laws apply to motorcycle drivers in the state of California.
Motorcycles do not provide all of the safety features that standard cars, trucks, busses, or vans offer, such as airbags, an encompassing steel frame, and seat belts. Because of this, the risk to the driver and any passengers is much greater in the event of an accident or other vehicular mishap.
Those who are driving motorcycles on California roadways must adhere to the same laws and regulations that apply to all drivers, but there are also additional roadway ordinances that apply exclusively to motorcyclists. These laws are primarily intended to protect riders and those other drivers who share the road with them.
It is important for motorcyclists to be familiar with these specific laws, to ensure that they are prepared for any potential legal entanglements that may ensue in the aftermath of an accident.
While regulations vary from state to state, motorcyclists and their passengers in California are required to wear helmets at all times. Helmets must meet the standards that are set by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Helmets that meet the Department of Transportation standards include the following features:
- A thick polystyrene inner liner
- Sturdy rivets and chin straps
- An average weight of three pounds
- No protrusions extending more than two-tenths of an inch from the surface of the helmet
- Department of Transportation standards sticker
- Snell or ANSI label inside the helmet
- Labeling from the manufacturer
Much like standard seat belt laws for other types of vehicles, requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets with these safety features is intended to decrease the rate of injury and death from motorcycle accidents.
While some laws are aimed at accomplishing driver and passenger safety through protective gear, additional laws result from the design differences between motorcycles and other vehicles. For instance, according to the California Vehicle Code, the handlebars of any two-wheeled motorcycle cannot be positioned in such a way that, “the hands of the driver, when upon the grips, are more than six inches above his or her shoulder height when sitting astride the seat.”
This law has implications for motorcycles that feature what are sometimes referred to as “ape-hanger” style handlebars. The reasoning behind this particular California law is that excessively high handlebars can adversely affect the handling of the vehicle and, therefore, make auto accidents more likely.
Other Regulations Regarding Motorcycle Function
In addition to the above handlebar regulation, motorcycles in California must meet other design requirements by law. Motorcycles must be equipped with functioning turn signals on both the front and rear of the vehicle. However, this law is not applicable to motorcycles that were built and registered before 1973. Motorcycles are also required to feature left and right mirrors.
Not all regulations are aimed singularly at increasing driver safety, however. Some motorcycle laws are intended to decrease environmental damage done by vehicles that burn fossil fuels. For instance, all motorcycles manufactured in 2013 or later must meet the energy efficiency standards referenced by the Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act of 2010, which are set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
California Insurance Requirements for Motorcycles
All motorcyclists must register their vehicle with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Riding a motorcycle that has not been registered can result in citations, fines, and fees. In addition to registration, drivers must have at least the minimum requirement for insurance coverage. California legally requires motorcyclists to have the following coverage:
- At least $15,000 per person injured in an accident
- Up to $30,000 for each accident
- At least $5,000 for property damage coverage
If you have just started cycling for fun or for sports, you would have discovered by now that the rules of the road, which sadly aren’t always followed, are quite confusing. The reason for this is usually due to lack of knowledge, and no disregard for the law.
However, errant cyclists can give a bad name to other cyclists when they fail to follow the laws. Worse of all, they put themselves at risk of getting injured, thereby requiring the services of a bike accident attorney.
Whether you are a first-timer or an experienced cyclist, it is important that you know the rules of the road, before you head out for your next ride. Bear in mind that these rules were made to keep you safe and not to limit you in any way. Although it might be risky to cycle on the road, most of the cycling accidents that occur are as a result of unsafe riding.
To be as safe as possible when riding, here are 8 rules of the road every cyclist should know:
- Be visible
This is the single most important thing every cyclist can do. Cyclists are known to wear loud colored Spandex to make them visible and not to make a fashion statement. This is the best way to ensure motorists can notice them on the roadway.
- Behave like a car on the road
It is both dangerous and unwise to take liberties with your bicycle, ignore traffic lights and switch carelessly between the road and crosswalks. Cyclists are adjured by law to follow all the rules that apply to cars. And if you are unjustly treated by any motorist, a personal injury attorney in Jupiter can help fight your course.
- Never Ride Against Traffic
Obey all traffic rules. Many drivers are not alert for a bicycle riding toward a car and are even less alert to cyclists on the road. You may be requiring an accident attorney if you fail to adhere to this rule.
- Be predictable
When riding on a road, stay as far to the right as safely possible. Especially when there is no bike lane, ensure to ride predictably and avoid swerving around objects. Try to maintain as straight a line as possible when riding. This will help oncoming vehicles to know what to expect.
- Always perform safety checks
It is recommended to carry out a 2-minute safety check on your bike before every ride. Check your headset, your brakes, and the skewers that hold your tires in place (i.e. your quick releases). Ask your local bike shop to explain to you if you are unsure of what to listen for.
- Avoid Riding on the Sidewalk
Riding bikes on sidewalks can cause agitation and congestion because they are constructed for pedestrians. So sensitize motorists to sharing the road by getting your bike on the road
- Avoid talking on a cell phone
While cycling, you should not talk on a cell phone. It is difficult to cycle vigilantly and defensively when you are talking on a cell phone, no matter how good you may be. Remember not all motorists know how to share the road with cyclists.
- Wear a Helmet and Other Safety Gear
Despite a cyclist’s best efforts, accidents can and do happen. Another good way to protect yourself is to wear a helmet and other safety gear.
If you happen to get involved in an accident with your bike, a personal injury attorney in Elevate Law can help you.