Every cyclist has to know the rules of the road in San Francisco, especially when riding in the Bay Area. Bikes are an alternative transportation mode for several people, while others simply pick them for leisure or exercise. Irrespective of the purpose of riding one, one needs to understand the best ways to navigate the busy streets of the city in a safe manner.
Riding on the Road
A cyclist is not legally allowed to ride on a sidewalk unless he or she is below 13 years of age. This means all cyclists in San Francisco have to ride on the road, and should keep to the bicycle lane whenever one is available. Joining other traffic anywhere is at times necessary when the road is too narrow for both a motor vehicle and a bicycle to pass side-by-side. Many cycling advocates refer to this as “taking the lane”. Bicyclists have the same responsibilities and rights as drivers of motor vehicles, meaning they have the responsibility of taking the lane in order to execute turns as required.
Cyclists should not ride against the traffic’s flow, and must stay on the right side of the road at all times. If one rides a cycle on the left, then a driver who makes a right-hand turn to the road on which they are riding may not anticipate a bicyclist approaching directly, and may collide into the first rider. A car that travels the opposite way could do a turn right in front of the bicyclist with no space for the rider to stop his or her cycle. This is also a concern while riding a bicycle on the road’s right side.
Avoid Blind Spots
All motor vehicle drivers contend with a blind spot, or an area immediately surrounding the automobile which they cannot spot without moving their vehicles accordingly. Usually, blind spots are on the sides of and behind the rear doors of a motor vehicle, but they are differently placed for different vehicles. Bicyclists should not stay in areas which make it virtually impossible for vehicle drivers to spot them from inside their automobiles.
It is usually dangerous to pass on the left in busy traffic, although for bicyclists, this is often required. If a cyclist trails a vehicle driver who needs to do a right-hand turn, he or she needs to be aware that the driver might have to enter the bicycle lane for this. The cyclist on the left side and inside the main lane can go past that driver only once he or she enters the bike lane. Making yourself more noticeable helps other nearby vehicle drivers spot you/your bicycle and avoid collisions.
Make Yourself Visible
When riding on the right in California, wear a reflective outfit and install a taillight and headlight on your cycle to help passing drivers spot you more easily. Riders have to use a white headlight and reflectors for cycles at night, so make it a point to invest in all these accessories in order to avoid fines.