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Crime Prevention: Traffic Safety Tip for May


The purpose of this circular is to provide information to Department personnel and community members that will enhance their knowledge and awareness of traffic enforcement and traffic safety. The information in this circular can be used for crime prevention meetings, community presentations, enforcement efforts, or in any other forum deemed appropriate. The emphasis this month is on bicycle and motorcycle safety.


Bicycle Safety

Summer is right around the corner, which means that more people will be engaging in outdoor activities, like bicycling. Community members are encouraged to reacquaint themselves with bicycle safety rules that will help make their summer rides safer and more enjoyable.

Always Wear an Approved Bicycle Helmet:

  • A bicycle helmet should sit low on the forehead, just above the eyebrows. It should fit snugly and the two side plastic pieces on the straps should fit just under the ears. The buckle should be just under the chin, with one finger’s width of space between the strap and chin. The helmet must always be buckled while riding. The helmet should not move more than ½ inch in any direction.

Know and Follow the Rules of the Road:

  • Know and follow the rules of the road contained within the California Vehicle Code (CVC). Vehicle Code handbooks can be obtained through your local Department of Motor Vehicles Office or Automobile Club. Remember, bicyclists must obey the same laws as drivers of motor vehicles.

Ride with the Flow of Traffic:

  • Always follow lane markings and use appropriate hand signals. Ride single-file when in heavily congested areas.

Avoid Riding at Night:

  • If it becomes necessary to do so, wear light-colored or reflective clothing. Make sure your bicycle is properly equipped with reflectors and a front light, if possible.

Be Alert While Riding:

  • Watch for cars, pedestrians, and hazards in the roadway like potholes, drain grates, etc. Don’t assume other people will yield to you. Be courteous and give the right-of-way to other bicycles and pedestrians.

Walk Your Bike when Crossing A Street in a Crosswalk:

  • Always look left, right, then left again—even when the light gives you the right-of-way.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I have to wear a helmet when I ride a bicycle?

If you are under 18 years of age, you must wear a helmet (21212 CVC).

Can a passenger ride on my handlebars or stand on the rear axle of my bicycle?

A passenger can only ride on a bicycle when it is equipped with a separate, permanently affixed seat (21204b CVC).

Can I ride my bicycle on the sidewalk or do I have to ride on the street? If I do ride my bicycle on the street, what side should I ride on?

Bicyclists are permitted to ride on sidewalks; however, it is an infraction to do so in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property (56.15.1 LAMC). If you ride your bicycle on the street, you must ride in the same direction as the flow of traffic and as close as practicable to the right side of the roadway (21202a CVC).

Can I be arrested for driving-under-the-influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) on a bicycle?

It is a misdemeanor to operate a bicycle on a highway while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug (21200.5 CVC).

Motorcycle Safety:

In 1985, Assembly Bill 412 created the California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP), which was created to promote motorcycle safety within the state. The CMSP is California’s official motorcycle safety and training program and offers two courses. The Basic Rider Course is designed primarily for beginners and inexperienced riders. It includes 16 hours of classroom and practical application instruction and covers both the basic and accident-avoidance skills. The 8-hour Experienced Rider Course is designed for advanced riders. The CMSP is administered by the California Highway Patrol, who works with an advisory committee to create and approve the course curricula.

The State of California requires motorcyclists under the age of 21 to successfully complete the Basic Rider Course before obtaining a motorcycle license or endorsement. Information on location, dates, times, and cost can be obtained by calling toll-free: 1-877-RIDE-411 (1-877-7433-411).

  • ALWAYS WEAR SAFETY EQUIPMENT WHILE RIDING: When riding, wear a helmet, boots, gloves, safety glasses, and sturdy clothing such as denim or leather. Tank tops, shorts, or open-toe shoes are not advisable.
  • RIDE DEFENSIVELY: Be aware of your surroundings in traffic. Maintain a safe speed for the conditions and stay out of other vehicles’ blind spots. Do not assume traffic will see you.
  • USE COMBINATION BRAKING: Use the smooth application of both front and rear brakes during every stop.
  • SEEK PROFESSIONAL MOTORCYCLE RIDER TRAINING: Know the limits of your motorcycle and ride within your ability.
  • DON’T DRINK AND RIDE: The same laws regarding drinking and driving motor vehicles apply to riding a motorcycle. Be responsible! If you have consumed alcohol, secure your motorcycle and obtain a ride home.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I need a license to operate a motorcycle?

Anyone operating a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle on a highway shall have a valid driver’s license, which includes a class M1 endorsement (12804.9 CVC).

Are motorcyclists in California required to wear a helmet?

All drivers and passengers are required to wear a helmet approved by the Department of Transportation when riding on a motorcycle (27803b CVC).

Is motorcycle training mandatory in California?

As of January 1, 1991, CMSP training is mandatory for all riders under the age of 21 who want to obtain a first-time motorcycle driver’s license.

Daily Traffic Mission:

It is the responsibility of bicyclists and motorcyclists to observe all traffic laws, and of every uniformed officer to enforce the laws, educate the public, and ensure the safe movement of pedestrians and vehicle traffic. Therefore, the four traffic divisions of the Los Angeles Police Department have developed the following strategies:

  • Provide information to community members via informational circulars and websites on bicycle and motorcycle safety.
  • Discuss bicycle and motorcycle laws and safety issues at community meetings (this includes the El Protector Azul program).
  • Provide officers with roll call training on bicycle and motorcycle safety.
  • Enforce Vehicle Code and Municipal Code laws pertaining to bicycles and motorcycles.
  • Assist the Los Angeles Unified School District Police Department with their grant-funded enforcement and educational program directed towards the safe movement of juvenile pedestrians and bicyclists.