General Cycling Tips
According to California law, your bike must have:
- A brake which will enable you to make one braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement;
- Handlebars low enough that you can grip the steering area without raising your hands above your shoulders; and
- A size that allows you to safely stop the bicycle, support it in an upright position with at least one foot on the ground, and restart it safely.
If you’re planning on riding at night, you also need:
- A white light that can illuminate the road in front of you and is visible from a distance of 300 feet from the front and the side;
- A red reflector on the rear visible from 500 feet to the rear;
- White or yellow pedal, ankle, or shoe reflectors visible from 200 feet; and
- Side reflectors to the front and back of the bike, typically on the wheel, with white or yellow in front and white or red in back.
Be sure your bike light batteries are properly charged or carry a backup light if riding at night.
Choose your lights based on where you will ride; lights that help you be seen by drivers is more important on city or county streets, where streetlights can light up the roadways, while lights that illuminate the road surface is more important on trails.
Consider adding reflective tape on your bicycle or wear light-colored or reflective clothing to improve your visibility and mounting a bell on your bike. A simple, clear ding! can alert others to your presence quickly and without startling or angering them.
Follow the rules of the road: use hand signals, obey traffic signs and signals, and ride in the right lane (or left lane on one-way streets) in the same direction as traffic. This helps other drivers predict your movements and gives them more time to see you, making it easier to share the road.
Avoid riding on sidewalks. It is much harder for drivers to see and avoid you, especially at intersections and driveways. This will also help you avoid conflict with pedestrians, who should always have the right-of-way. In addition, sidewalk riding is also illegal throughout most of California, so this can help you keep on the right side of the law.
If bike lanes are available and clear of danger or obstructions, use them, otherwise “take the lane” when you can. By establishing a position in a lane, you send a clear message that you have as much right to the lane as any other driver, it forces vehicles to move into an adjacent lane to pass you, giving you a safe berth, and it gives you plenty of room to maneuver around potential hazards.
Travel at a speed safe for the conditions, especially during adverse weather like fog, wind, and rain. Keep in mind that early-season rains can bring months’ worth of oil to the road surface, making the roads especially slick.
When passing other bicyclists, call out “passing on your left” in a courteous manner.
If other trail or roadways users are behaving irresponsibly, avoid confronting them. Instead, report incidents to the appropriate authorities.
Stay alert and aware of what’s going on around you — the more aware you are, the less vulnerable you are. On parkway trails, this includes watching out for deer and other wildlife. In urban areas, this means watching out for opening car doors or inattentive drivers, not just the road ahead of you.
Ride more and convince others to ride. As bicycles become more commonplace on our streets and highways, drivers will get more experience in safely sharing the roads.
Carry identification, a pump and spare tube, and a cell phone or coins for a phone call. If possible, learn about public transit routes nearby and have money for bus or train fare.
Keep your bike well-maintained. Local bike shops or non-profit tool cooperatives can help make your bike more mechanically reliable.
Consider enrolling in smart cycling classes when available. Bicycling on city streets is a unique skillset, and even advanced riders may have much to learn.
In Placer County, the city of Roseville has a list of locations where a printed bicycle map is available as well as a low-quality PDF version of their map. The city of Lincoln also has its own downloadable PDF map. For more information about bikeways in Placer County, you can visit the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency.
In Sacramento County, SACOG has released a PDF of the American River Parkway Bike Trail map and developed a page devoted to bikeways in Sacramento based on the 2010 Bikeway Master Plan. Finally, a PDF map is also available for the city of Folsom.
A more complete listing of regional bike maps can be found at SACOG’s 511 travel site.
One of the great features of bicycles is that they can form a crucial link for multi-modal commuting, mixing with buses and trains for an automobile-free commute or vacation. To mix bicycles and transit options, you can consult Sacramento Regional Transit guidelines for using bikes with buses and light rail trains or Yolobus on how bikes interact with their buses.
For longer trips and especially commutes into the Bay Area, Amtrak has a page detailing what trains accommodate bicycles in racks.
Donating Your Old Bikes
The vibrant bicycle culture in the Sacramento region features a few special organizations and programs that can help get used bikes into needy hands. If you’ve got a wonderful adult bike collecting dust, consider giving it to the Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen, Davis Bike Collective, or Cycles 4 Hope. Meanwhile, the Sacramento Sheriff’s Toy Project and Trips for Kids are excellent children’s bike programs for smaller bikes.
Safety and Commuting Resources
Finally, SABA is not the only organization publishing information to help bicyclists of all natures enjoy safe and pleasant rides. We’re happy to direct riders to the following resources for more information about safety, rider training, and commuter benefits.
- Bike Safety Resources [California Bicycle Coalition]
- Bicycling Street Smarts [Bicycling magazine and Rodale]
- Bicycle Commute Guide [SACOG]
- Bicycle Education [Smart-cycling.org]
- Bicycles and the law: The Case of California from 1995, with an update in 2010 [California Association of Bicycling Organizations]
- State employees: reimbursement for use of private bike on official business [California Code of Regulations]
- California’s Parking Cash Out Law [California Air Resources Board]
Last updated 2011-04-5 01:00:26 PM (EST). Please send corrections and revisions to our Webmaster.