California Department of Transportation

Bicycle Commuting & Safety

What has two wheels, improves mobility and air quality, reduces traffic congestion and parking demand, saves energy, and promotes healthy living through enjoyable exercise? Sound too good to be true? Planners, engineers, policymakers, and cyclists recognize these as benefits of bicycle commuting.

Equipping Your Bicycle for Commuting

  1. Make sure the bicycle is properly sized and adjusted.
  2. Use a white headlamp and a red rear reflector for night riding.
  3. A rack over the rear wheel is convenient for carrying items such as books, a briefcase, or clothing.
  4. Carry a basic tool kit, tire patch kit and tire pump for those unexpected roadside repairs.

Bicycle Safety Guidelines

  • Wear a bicycle helmet. It is the law for persons under 18 years of age.
  • Ride with the traffic flow.
  • Ride in a straight line.
  • Ride to the right if you are moving slower than other traffic, unless you are turning left, passing another bicycle or vehicle, or avoiding hazards.
  • Stop at stop signs and red lights.
  • Use a light, reflectors and reflective clothing during darkness.
  • Wear bright clothing during the daytime.
  • Ride to the right if you are moving slower that other traffic, unless you are turning left, passing another bicycle or vehicle, or avoiding hazards.
  • Keep a safe distance from parked cars.
  • Use proper hand signals when turning, stopping or changing lanes.
  • Use extra caution when it is raining, and allow extra time to stop.
  • Cross railroad tracks at a right angle.
  • Walk your bike when using a crosswalk.
  • Do not wear headphones on both ears while riding.
  • Keep your bike properly maintained so it is safe.
  • Do not drink and ride.
  • Ride defensively.
  • Use hand signals.
  • Be alert for road hazards.
  • Watch for cars at cross streets and driveways.
  • Obey all traffic signals.
  • Use lights at night.
  • Keep your bike in good condition.
  • Ride in the same direction as the flow of traffic. Keep right where practicable to allow vehicles to pass.
  • Be aware of parked cars and watch for car doors that may open.
    Give pedestrians the right of way.

Further information about bicycle safety can be found at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

For more information, please contact:

Paul Moore
Bicycle Facilities Unit
Division of Local Assistance, MS-1
California Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 942874
Sacramento, CA 94274-0001
Phone: (916) 65-2750

To report any difficulty experienced in accessing Caltrans programs, services or activities or any discriminations covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act or the Fair Employment and Housing Act, please contact us at (866)810-6346 Voice; 711 TTY; (916)653-3055 Fax.


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Page Last Updated: April 21, 2017