How cars and bicycles are supposed to interact

Last Monday’s column regarding rules of the road for bicyclists generated emails from readers who wanted more education about the ways drivers and bicyclists should interact on the roadway. Keeping in mind that bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists, below are rules of the road for motorists and cyclists from the California Driver Handbook: Motorists must:
  • Pass a cyclist as they would a slow moving-vehicle -- with caution and only when it’s safe.
  • Carefully look for cyclists before turning and opening their automobile door next to moving traffic.
  • Safely merge toward the curb or into the bike lane when making a turn or parking on the street.
  • Not overtake and cut-off a cyclist before making a turn. Merge behind them and then turn.
  • Use care when approaching or passing a cyclist on a freeway.
  • Must obey traffic signals and stop signs.
  • Can ride on certain sections of freeways in some rural areas where there’s no alternate route.
  • Must ride in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic.
  • Shall not ride on the sidewalk.
  • May leave the bike lane or right edge of the road to turn left and pass a parked or slow moving vehicle, bicycle or avoid debris and other hazards.
  • May ride near the left edge of a one-way street.
  • Should ride single file on a busy or narrow street. Note: Cyclists may ride side-by-side , or two abreast , but they must ride single file when being passed by other vehicles. Cyclists may only travel more than two abreast on a shoulder, bike lane or bike path intended for bike use if there is enough room. However, they must  ride single file while passing vehicles, pedestrians or other cyclists.
  • Must make left and right turns using the same turn lanes drivers use. If the cyclist plans to go straight through an intersection, he or she should use a through traffic lane rather than ride next to the curb, blocking right-turning traffic.
  • Must signal their turning intentions to nearby road users.
  • Must wear a helmet if under age 18.
  • Should carry identification.
  • Must walk their bike in a crosswalk.
  • Shall not ride at night unless the bike is equipped with a brake that allows the operator to make one braked wheel skid on clean, dry, level clean pavement; a front lamp shinning a white light visible from a distance of 300 feet; a rear red reflector visible from a distance of 500 feet; and a white or yellow reflector on each pedal visible from a distance of 200 feet.
Driver’s Yoga workshop in May Driver’s Yoga, the two-hour workshop that teaches drivers how to focus when they are behind the wheel, is being offered May 15. The workshop, taught by its creator and former law enforcement officer, Pete Peterson, runs from 10 a.m. to noon at the Elena Baskin Live Oak Senior Center, 1777 Capitola Road in Santa Cruz. For information, call Peterson at 332-4022.
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