Southern California is a bicyclist’s dream. The weather is typically mild enough to allow for safe cycling all year round. Even those who want to commute to work can typically do so in months where other people will be stuck inside.
Every year, the warmer seasons bring with them an influx of people who want to try biking as a way to reduce their environmental impact or a way to improve their own health. This year, given the drastic upsurge in demand for bikes that local bike shops have recently reported, the chances are very good that experienced cyclists will need to share the road with other, newer bike enthusiasts who may not know the rules of the road as well.
Apply the same skepticism to other cyclists as you apply to drivers
Generally speaking, is best for people on bikes to assume that nearby drivers in enclosed vehicles won’t notice them. Drivers tend not to see smaller vehicles and especially pedestrians and bikes because they don’t think about them. As a result, experienced cyclists know that they have to be especially proactive and defensive on the road.
Assuming that other drivers won’t notice you will greatly reduce your risk of turning in front of someone who wasn’t paying attention. Typically, cyclists give extra space to vehicles in order to keep themselves safe.
You may want to assume that other people on bicycles near you won’t know to properly signal or to interpret your signals, especially if you use hand signals instead of bike lights to indicate turns.
More cyclists could mean more positive safety changes
On the one hand, the potential for crowded bike paths, bike lanes and city streets may frustrate you and increase your risk of a collision when you go out for a ride. On the other hand, the more people there are actively participating in biking, the more important infrastructure and legal protection for cyclists become.
California already has an inclusive approach to biking laws and consideration of cyclists in road planning and improvements. With more people getting on bikes this year, pressure on lawmakers and local planners will increase, leading to better infrastructure and more safety in the future.