As traffic increases and vehicles grow even bigger it seems like it is harder and harder for people to be mindful of everyone on the road. Most drivers are only looking out for other four-wheeled machines. So unfortunately, it is up to those on two wheels to practice even more defensive awareness. This is why it is so important that you know your legal rights and obligation as a Louisiana bicycle rider.
Keep Your Helmets On
Anyone under the age of 12 must wear a suitable bicycle helmet securely on their head, whether as a passenger or an operator. While it is a good idea for anyone at any age to keep a protective helmet on while bicycling, it is only mandatory for that age group. Most bike shops will be able to fit you or your child with a correctly sized helmet which is important for maximum safety.
Keep Your Focus
Under Louisiana law, anyone operating a bike is subject to the same laws as someone driving any other vehicle. That means talking on your phone while biking or sending or reading text messages is forbidden. Plus using your phone means your hands are not on the handlebars, which is just like taking your hand off the wheel when driving. So just like when driving wait until you are at your destination or pull over before using your phone.
Know Where to Ride
Bicyclists must ride as close as possible to the right-hand side of the road under Louisiana law. Bikes are technically a vehicle and as such must follow the same directional flow. The law does allow exceptions under the following circumstances:
– When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction – When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway – When absolutely necessary to avoid conditions that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, including a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane – When operating upon a roadway or a highway, where there are two or more marked traffic lanes and traffic travels in only one direction, in which case a bicyclist may ride as near the left-hand curb or shoulder of that roadway as practicable when preparing for a left turn
Practice Your Signals
Indicating where you intend to go when riding your bike is an important way to keep yourself safe. Get to know what signals designate what maneuver.
– For a left turn — hand and arm extended horizontally, with the hand open – For a right turn — hand and arm extended upward at an angle of forty-five degrees from shoulder or elbow, with the hand open and the back of the hand to the rear. A bicyclist may also extend the right hand and arm horizontally with the hand open and back of the hand to the rear. – To indicate you plan to stop or decrease speed — hand and arm extended downward at an angle of forty-five degrees from shoulder or elbow, with the hand open and the back of the hand to the front. – To indicate you wish to pull from curb or side of roadway — same as for left turn.
(Keep in mind that under Louisiana law a bicyclist is not required to continuously give the signals if the hand or arm is needed to control the bicycle.)
At deGravelles & Palmintier we want everyone to arm themselves with the information it takes to feel and stay safe. Yet even if you follow every safety recommendation, sometimes the worst happens. If that does, we are here to help you.