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May 19 is Bike to Work Day – A discussion on bike safety

By Eric Ganci

May 19, 2022, SANDAG (The San Diego Association of Governments) is holding the annual Bike to Work Day, as part of Bike Month.

Per SANDAG “Bike to Work Day is a nationally recognized event, celebrated locally on the third Thursday in May. This annual event supports biking as an everyday, environmentally friendly, cost saving commute choice.”

As SANDAG states on their site: “…the morning of May 19, thousands of commuters will take to the streets and GO by BIKE for Bike to Work Day. Participants can explore improved bikeways along their commute, stop at one of the many pit stops for refreshments and pick up a free commemorative t-shirt.”

You can register here.

As San Diego lawyers who represent bikers injured, usually from other drivers (motorists), we’ll also share some thoughts on safety.

Just because you are on a bicycle does not mean drivers can see you. And it definitely does not mean drivers are paying attention to you or looking for you on the road.

Things that may help you be seen:


To be seen is to be seen. Lights can help: both front and back lights, and during both day and night. There are tons of lights to choose, ranging from low lumens (output of light) to high lumens. There are many choices, but here are some options.

Also, California Vehicle Code 21201(d) requires the following lighting when you “operate” a bicycle “during darkness”:

“A lamp emitting a white light that, while the bicycle is in motion, illuminates the highway, sidewalk, or bikeway in front of the bicyclist and is visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the bicycle.” CVC 21201(d)(1).

“A red reflector or a solid or flashing red light with a built-in reflector on the rear that shall be visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle.” CVC 21201(d)(2).

“A white or yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe, or ankle visible from the front and rear of the bicycle from a distance of 200 feet.” CVC 21201(d)(3).

“A white or yellow reflector on each side forward of the center of the bicycle, and a white or red reflector on each side to the rear of the center of the bicycle, except that bicycles that are equipped with reflectorized tires on the front and the rear need not be equipped with these side reflectors. The reflectors and reflectorized tires shall be of a type meeting requirements established by the department.” CVC 21201(d)(4).


Bright clothing:

Dark clothing, especially in dark and low lighting, can make it difficult for drivers to see you. You can also add reflective clothing and bright gloves so cars both in front and behind you can see you.


Not all helmets are created equally:

Virginia Tech has a wonderful resource of bike helmets based on crash ratings. A huge thanks to attorney Michael Morphew from our team for hipping me to this site.

Also, per California Vehicle Code section 21212, all bicycle riders under 18 years of age must wear a helmet.


The Vehicle Code applies to bicycles too:

Just because you are on a bicycle does not automatically mean you have the right-of-way. Per California Vehicle Code section 21200(a)(1): “[a] person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division….” You can learn more about Bicycle Rider Responsibilities vs. Motorist Responsibilities in California here.


Other resources in San Diego:

The Bike Coalition San Diego County hosts many resources through their website in addition to offering safety training.