If you live anywhere near Los Angeles (or to be honest, even if you don’t), you know exactly how gridlocked, nightmarish, and miserable the traffic  can become almost in an instant. There’s something beautiful in the misery that is a Los Angeles driver — the way that all white BMW cut you off without a turn signal — and somehow you think it was your fault, even if just a little. Then there are the gas prices, which can run your credit card bill up pretty quickly if you’re constantly on the go. Environmental impact, maintenance costs, and more make buying a bicycle to cruise around place to place a highly appealing alternative to sitting in a car. However, getting back to those LA drivers, it can be a bit dangerous to share the road. To avoid getting in an accident and needing a Los Angeles bicycle and car accident lawyer, we’ve made a helpful starter guide for new bikers.

First and foremost, visibility is your friend and greatest concern when sharing the road with cars and other drivers. Reflective gear is an absolute must, both by law and for your safety. Make sure your bike has a white headlight, or a white light at a minimum, attached to the front of the bike. Also, ensure that you have a red reflector on the rear of your bike as well as white, or yellow, reflectors on the backs and sides of your pedals. If your bike does not have these when you ride early in the morning before sunrise, or after the sun sets, and you’re pulled over, you will receive a ticket. It is also strongly advised that you wear reflective clothing, such as a vest, or jacket.

Just because your bicycle doesn’t have a motor doesn’t mean you aren’t considered another vehicle on the road to police officers and in the eyes of the law. It is still highly illegal to operate a bike under the influence of drugs, such as marijuana, or alcohol; if you are pulled over for erratic riding and are found to have a BAC higher than .08%, or are proved to be high, you will be charged with a DUI.

So, you’ve got your bike set, your gear on, and are completely sober, responsible, and ready to ride. The roads can be tricky to maneuver on your bicycle and you may be tempted to ride on the sidewalk to avoid crazy drivers altogether. Seems like a good idea, except that it puts pedestrians at risk of collision and injury, therefore the city made it illegal to ride your bike on sidewalks. You’re required to stay in the bike lane, if there is one, on the streets. If there isn’t a designated lane, you must ride as far to the right of the road as possible without risk of riding into parked cars. The only time you can ride outside of the right is when you’re passing, or taking a left turn. Also note: always use your hand signals so other drivers know your movement intentions — this can immensely help avoid crashes

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