Bicycling is a fun pastime and a great alternative form of transportation to driving, but bikers must follow traffic laws too. Without knowing and obeying these laws, you may face penalties without even realizing you were in the wrong. These laws also greatly increase your safety. Here are three important bike laws to understand:
1. Your bike must have lights and reflectors.
One of the biggest concerns for bicyclist safety is visibility. Because your bike is so much smaller than other vehicles, you need to make sure you can be seen at all times. By law, your bike must have a lamp on the front, a red reflector on the back and either a white or yellow reflector on each pedal. Without these, it would be nearly impossible to see you at night. Reflectors help with day visibility too.
Your bike must also be equipped with a brake.
Helmets are not required for riders over 18 years of age but they are highly recommended. They can mean the difference between life and death in an accident.
2. Obey all traffic signs.
When biking, think of yourself as another vehicle. Stop at stop signs and red lights as cars do. Obey other signs that are relevant to vehicles on the road. You could be ticketed if you ignore these signs, such as riding through an intersection without stopping at the stop sign.
Ride in the same direction as traffic, but stay to the right of the lane without running into parked cars or curbs. If there is a marked bicycle lane on the road, use it. You should not be riding your bike on the sidewalk.
3. Signal when you are turning.
There are three hand signals bikers should use to let other cars know what they are going to do. If you are going to turn left, extend you r left arm outward from your body. When making a right turn, hold your left arm out and upward at a 90-degree angle from your elbow. When coming to a stop, lower your left arm with your palm facing behind you.
Making a left turn at an intersection is one of the few times you may need to pull out into a normal traffic lane. Check over your shoulder to ensure there are no cars, signal a left turn and either move into the turn lane or to the left side of the traffic lane, if there is no turn lane at the intersection.