Keep your bike in tip-top shape for a safe and enjoyable ride. Check out this “Beginner’s Guide to Bicycle Maintenance” for common sense do’s and don’ts and tips for commuting by bike.
The Better World Club offers a roadside assistance program, good for two service calls anywhere in the country, for about $40/year.
If You’re on a Bike
Always obey the same traffic rules as cars.
Remember to use lights — white in the front, red in the back — and to wear a helmet, if your head’s important to you. Helmets are required if you’re under eighteen, and optional for adults.
Don’t wear earphones or earbuds. It’s illegal to cover both of your ears, but covering just one of them is still less safe than having them uncovered.
In West Hollywood, city code allows bicyclists to ride on the sidewalk if there is no bicycle lane available, and bicycles must ride with traffic, not against. Also, “bicycle riders shall yield to pedestrians and shall not ride in a wanton or reckless manner as to endanger any person or property”. Please respect pedestrians on sidewalks!
Take the whole lane if the lane isn’t wide enough for you and a car to safely ride side-by-side. If you can’t both fit next to each other in the lane, with several feet of clearance between you, that means that it’s a “substandard lane width” and you are entitled to use it. Drivers can change lanes to go around you if they want to pass. If more than five cars are bunched up behind you, pull over when it’s safe to do so and let them pass.
You are also allowed to use the full lane if you’re going the same speed as traffic, or if the right-hand gutter isn’t safe.
It’s always possible to dress appropriately for biking, no matter what the weather is! When it’s raining, you can get yourself a pair of waterproof bike pants and windbreaker; when it’s cold, wear gloves and a scarf; when it’s hot, wear loose clothing and always bring water with you. And remember to pack some sunscreen.
If You’re in a Car
If you’re in a car, make sure there aren’t any bikes approaching before you open the door. If you open your door into a bike, you could hurt the rider — and it’s also a citable offense for obstructing traffic. The California Vehicle Code requires that three feet between motorists and bicyclists.
It’s illegal to harass cyclists. Harassment means an act that threatens the physical safety of the cyclist: throwing something at them, swerving or running them off the road, honking or revving the engine in a way that’s intended to surprise the cyclist.
If There’s a Collision
Call the police and make a report about any physical injury or property damage. Get the officer’s badge and the incident report number.
Here’s some good advice on filing a claim if your bike is damaged in a collision.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with laws that apply to bicycles on streets. In California, a brief summary of the California Vehicle Codes that apply to bicycles is provided by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. These codes are listed on the California Vehicle Code Web page, most under Div. 11 – “Rules of the Road“, Article 4 – “Operation of Bicycles“.
Here’s some safety advice from the California DMV.
And here’s a helpful video from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.