Visibility - California Bicycle Coalition

Skill #3: Visibility

Positioning yourself to maximize how visible you are can deter others on the road from making hazardous mistakes.

How You Do It:

With proper positioning and lights.

On roads with bike lanes: Per CVC 21208, when riding slower than other traffic, you must ride in the lane in the same direction as other traffic. You may leave the bike lane when traveling as fast as other traffic, to avoid obstacles (debris, pavement hazards, parked vehicles and the area where their doors open, etc.) and to prepare for turns.

On roads without bike lanes: when riding slower than other traffic, you ride in a straight line in the same direction as other traffic, in the rightmost through lane, outside the door zone (riding in the leftmost lane is OK on one-way streets). "Take the lane" when:

  • You're traveling the same speed as other traffic.
  • Narrow lane width or obstacles make it unsafe to be passed by other drivers within the lane.
  • Being more visible makes you safer (e.g., when making a left or right turn).
  • It is not practicable to ride as far right as possible. 

Use hand signals when turning or stopping. Check out this guide to proper hand signals, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

When entering the roadway, yield to other road users. Make eye contact with other road users to ensure that they see you before you join traffic. 

A good set of lights adds even more protection. A white front light enables you to not only better see hazards such a potholes and glass more clearly but will also make you more visible to people in cars turning in front of you or opening their doors. A red rear light will help in keeping people driving behind you from rear-ending you. Lights can be purchased everywhere from dollar stores to your local bike shop and online. Reflective ankle straps and pedals are additional options to increase your visibility to others. Bright clothing is also highly recommend. Stay visible, stay safe! 

Using Skills 3 + 2 + 1 can help you avoid about 99% of all potential crashes.

Cycle on to Skill #4: Responding to Hazards

 

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