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California DMV's safety tips for bicycle riders

Bicyclists know that they must be on the alert whenever they are on the road. Reckless, negligent or aggressive motorists can come from any direction. Even parked cars are not safe; an inattentive person might swing their door wide open, right in a bike’s path, instead of looking first.

Little of what motorists do is within a bike rider’s control. But there are steps riders can take to improve their chances of avoiding a serious accident as much as possible, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles’ website.

The site provides several tips, among them:

  • Maintain control of your bicycle. Ensure that your bike is the proper size for you and is correctly adjusted. Inspect your bike regularly for possible repair issues.
  • Wear a helmet whenever you ride
  • Be visible, stay alert and signal your intentions
  • Ride with traffic

Legally, riders under 18 must wear a helmet. Adults are not legally required to, but the DMV reminds us that even a seemingly minor fall can cause a major head injury that might never fully heal. Also, remember that a helmet works best when it fits right.

Riders have the same rights as motorists, but they also have the same responsibilities. This means they must obey traffic laws the same as people in cars, trucks and motorcycles. As for motorists, they must look out for bicycles whenever they make a turn, merge into bike lanes or open a door next to moving traffic.

Even bikers who follow all the rules can still end up getting seriously hurt in a crash. When that happens, the victim may have a claim of negligence against the driver that hit him or her.

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