DEAR ABBY: As the education director of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, I work hard to encourage safe and courteous cycling for everyday transportation in Northern California. There are a number of points I would like to address to "Caring Reader, Sacramento, Calif." (Sept. 13).
"Caring" described seeing bicyclists run stop signs, not wear protective gear, texting/talking on cellphones, and suggested a greater enforcement of the law. Rolling through stop signs is, indeed, just as illegal as it is while driving a vehicle, except in Idaho where cyclists may treat stop signs as yields. I encourage all cyclists and drivers to come to a complete stop at signs and signals, even when turning right, and especially when pedestrians are present.
Talking or texting on a cellphone while biking isn't currently illegal in the state of California. I feel that using cellphones while biking is an unsafe practice, and I encourage cyclists (or drivers) to simply pull over before making or taking a call.
Helmets are required gear only for bicyclists under the age of 18 in California. As an adult, I choose to wear one when I'm biking. However, it is not illegal for an adult to bike without a helmet.
You said in your response that people who cycle at night should avoid wearing dark clothes to increase their visibility, but clothes color alone has been shown to have little or no effect on visibility in dark conditions. During low-light times of day like dawn or dusk, wearing bright or fluorescent clothes is a good strategy, but at night bicyclists should rely on lights and reflectors to be seen.
The law in California stipulates that bicyclists must have a white headlight, a red rear reflector and yellow or white reflectors on their wheels or spokes as well as on their pedals, shoes or ankles. However, I also recommend adding to these required items: a red rear light, and additional lights and reflectors at the front, rear and sides of the bike, or on one's clothing or helmet. Highlighting one's silhouette with lights and reflectors, and applying them to moving parts of one's bike or body, will increase visibility substantially after dark.
Abby, thanks for your attention to these issues. -- ROBERT PRINZ, OAKLAND, CALIF.
DEAR MR. PRINZ: You're welcome. And thank you for kindly sharing your expertise with my readers.