As a bicyclist in Walnut Creek, you have responsibilities and rights, just as motorists and pedestrians do. Following these may keep you safe.
Understanding bicycle laws may help you determine when to seek compensation in a collision with a motor vehicle.
Riding with traffic
Pedestrians must walk against traffic, but bicycles must ride with it. You must travel on the right side except when one of the following is true:
- The right side is closed to traffic because of construction
- You are passing another vehicle
- The road is too narrow
- You are on a one-way street
- You are legally making a left turn
Taking the lane
California law allows you to ride wherever you want in the lane if you are moving at the same speed as traffic. But even if you are moving slower, the law allows you to take the lane when there is not enough room for you to ride side-by-side with a vehicle.
There is another caveat: You must use the bike lane if there is one unless you are riding the same speed as traffic, passing, avoiding a hazard, making a left turn or coming up on a place where it is legal to make a right turn.
A vehicle that passes you must not come within three feet of you or any part of your bicycle, per the Three Feet for Safety Act.
Riding on the sidewalk
In some places in California, it is legal to ride on the sidewalk. However, according to Walnut Creek city ordinance, only bicyclists who are under 16 years old may ride on the sidewalk. The exceptions include certain business areas and sidewalks that double as a bike path (as indicated by signage).
Yielding to pedestrians
In those places where you may ride on the sidewalk, you must yield to pedestrians. If you are approaching a pedestrian from behind and you wish to pass, you must give an audible signal first and wait for them to move. In crosswalks, pedestrians have the right-of-way, and you must stop for them just as vehicles have to.
During the day, you may decide to wear bright colors to alert drivers to your presence. At night, you must follow state laws regarding visibility. On your bicycle, you must have reflectors on the back, the pedals and the wheels or sides. You must also have a front light on your bicycle.
Using hand signals to indicate turns, making eye contact with drivers and watching for motorist blind spots are further ways to avoid getting into a collision with a vehicle.