To Live and Ride in L.A.

Dan Dabek, executive director of the Los Angeles bicycle education group C.I.C.L.E. (Cyclists Inciting Change thru Live Exchange), offers some advice for safe biking in the city

Photograph by Dustin Snipes

1. Avoid heavy traffic 
Instead of taking Wilshire, for example, ride from the Westside to downtown via 7th Street, which also has bike lanes.

2. Ride predictably
Maintain a consistent line in the bike lane. While it may feel safer to weave into the parking lane when you see an opening, this encourages drivers to drift into your lane.

3. Beware the T-bone
Cars turning left—into driveways or intersections—and across a cyclist’s path are the most common cause of accidents. Instead of braking, turn right quickly so that you end up riding parallel to the car rather than running into it.

4. Reduce your waiting time
To avoid having to ride onto the sidewalk to press the crosswalk button, trigger the green light at intersections by aligning your bike over the car sensors, those black tar-filled circles or squares cut into the road in front of the crosswalk.

5. Practice the quick stop
If you jam on the brakes in an emergency without positioning your body correctly, you’ll most likely go over the handlebars. For a fast, safe stop, shift your weight backward as rapidly as possible so that your butt is almost over the rear wheel and stiffen your arms as you hit both brakes firmly and equally.

6. Don’t hug the curb
Ride as far to the right as is safe without being in the gutter. If you’re too close to the sidewalk, you’ll be invisible to drivers and encounter glass and trash.

7. Act like a car
Make a full stop at red lights, signal turns and lane changes (simply point the way you want to go), and look over your shoulder before turning. Always ride in the same direction as traffic.

8. Don’t ride on sidewalks
Being hit while riding on the sidewalk—by cars pulling into and out of driveways—is the second most common cause of accidents. (See T-bone.)