Bicycling is well known for its inherent dangers, particularly when sharing roads with larger motor vehicles. However, the traffic laws in California are not applied equally between the two modes of transportation. State mandates afford smaller, two-wheeled transports with more options not afforded to their motorized counterparts.
In particular, three California laws apply to operators of cars, trucks, or motorcycles, but not those riding bicycles.
Riding on sidewalks
While local municipalities may have their own regulations, California state law does not prohibit bicyclists from traveling on sidewalks. While seemingly safer for them, risks still exist, particularly when it comes to pedestrians in the path of a speeding bicycle.
Helmets optional for adults
Like seatbelts and airbags in cars, bicycle helmets provide the best level of protection for cyclists. Yet, state law only mandates that kids 17 and younger wear approved headgear. Those 18 and older do not have to follow such a mandate. The seemingly unusual exception presents dangers as adults are more likely to travel on busy roads shared with cars and trucks.
Cell phone use
Laws enacted to prohibit drivers of motorized vehicles from holding and using cell phones while driving quickly spread throughout the country. Some states saw the need to apply the same regulations to cyclists. California is one of the exceptions. If the device notifies the bike operator of a call or text or the cyclist wants to contact someone, they can remove one hand from the handlebars to use the cell phone.
Regardless of the choice of transport, safe travel is paramount. Regulating one vehicle but not the other could present deadly dangers to all those who strive to share the road.