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Bicycling Safety

In Arizona, the cities of Tucson, and Sierra Vista, as well as Yuma and Pima counties have mandatory helmet laws for bicyclists under the age of 18. Although helmets are not required by law statewide, most bicycle advocacy organizations and clubs agree bicyclists should wear helmets at all times.

Bells are Good, Brakes are Better, Riding on the Right is Best

If You Ride at Night Arizona Law requires bicyclists to have:

  • A white headlight visible from at least 500 feet
  • A red rear reflector visible from 50 to 300 feet

A bicycle may also have a red tail light visible from 500 feet (blinking tail lights are eye-catching). You may want to consider wearing a reflective vest or reflective tape on your helmet or clothes.


Recognize common Signs for Bicycle Facilities

or standards and listings of bicycle facility Regulatory Signs, Warning Signs, and Guide Signs, refer to MUTCD Part 9, Traffic Controls for Bicycle Facilities

Using Hand Signals

Bicyclists are responsible for letting others know when they're turning, stopping, or slowing down. Before signaling, you should scan for motorists, road conditions, pedestrians, etc.

Hand signals from behind

Be Safe, Bike Smart

To be safe and avoid accidents, bicyclists should ride with traffic and be aware of hazards, cars, and people around them. Bike smart and follow these safety tips for biking in Arizona:

    man bicycling on city street
  • Ride on the right - Always ride with the flow of traffic. Riding against traffic is dangerous.
  • Ride predictably - Follow the same rules motorists do, and travel in a straight line without swerving.
  • Obey traffic control devices (signs, signals, lane markings) - Bicyclists must follow the rules of the road like other vehicles.
  • Protect your head - Always wear a helmet, even on the shortest trips.
  • Follow lane markings - Don't turn left from the right lane. Don't ride straight in a lane marked Right-Turn Only.
  • Ride correctly through intersections - Use the right-most lane that goes in your direction. If you're heading straight, get in the through lane, not to the right of a right-turning vehicle.
  • Signal before you move or stop - Hand signals let drivers and others know what you intend to do.
  • Enter streets and intersections cautiously - Always check for oncoming traffic.
  • Ride defensively on the road - Anticipate hazards and be ready to adjust your position in traffic.
  • Don't ride on the sidewalk - Many people consider sidewalks a safe place to ride because cars don't travel on them. Unfortunately, sidewalks aren't safe. Stay off them, except where you have no choice. Trees, hedges, parked cars, buildings and doorways create blindspots along a sidewalk, which is too narrow to allow you to swerve out of the way if someone appears. A pedestrian on the sidewalk can sidestep suddenly, or a small child can run out from behind an adult. Never pass a pedestrian until you have his or her attention. And cars do use sidewalks - at every driveway and cross street. Since there are no clear rules for travel on a sidewalk, your only choice is to ride very slowly and look in all directions before crossing a driveway or street
  • Be visible and be seen - Wear bright colors to increase your visibility and make eye contact with drivers.
  • Look behind you - Know how to look over your shoulder and not swerve or lose balance. Rear-view mirrors are an option.
  • Learn more about Avoiding Motorist Errors
  • Everything on your bike should be properly adjusted and in good working condition. Keep a well maintained bike and conduct the ABC Quick Check before you ride as recommended by the League of American Bicyclists.

Wear a Helmet

Why? Because a helmet can prevent serious injury to your brain.

In Arizona, three cities-Tucson, Sierra Vista, and Yuma- and Pima County have mandatory helmet laws for bicyclists under the age of 18. Although helmets are not required by law statewide, most bicycle advocacy organizations and clubs agree bicyclists should wear helmets at all times.

A recent national study by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and Bell Sports found fewer than half (41 percent) of kids ages 5 to 14 wear helmets when participating in wheeled activities, and more than a third (35 percent) of children who use helmets wear them improperly.

Links to information on bicycle helmets and injury prevention

About Bicycle Helmets

child wearing bicycle helmet woman wearing bicycle helmet senior wearing bicycle helmet adult and child wearing bicycle helmets

Choose a helmet that meets current safety standards. Why? Standards set minimum requirements and test important aspects of helmets such as impact performance, strap strength, and coverage. Since March 1999, U.S. bicycle helmets must meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standard. CPSC is the legal requirement; other standards are ASTM and Snell.

Correct Motorist Behavior

Drive cautiously

  • Give cyclists a "brake" – slow down when they share the road
  • Recognize a potentially dangerous situation for a bicyclist and give him/her extra space

Yield to cyclists

  • Cyclists may need the entire lane if there is a hazard
  • Drivers should give cyclists time to cross intersections

Be considerate

  • Don't honk your horn when passing a cyclist
  • When parked on the street, watch for cyclists before opening your door

Pass with care

  • Give a cyclist plenty of space when passing-at least three feet
  • Look over your shoulder after passing a cyclist to make sure they're clear before moving back into position

Watch for kids

  • Children on bikes can be unpredictable-slow down
  • Don't expect kids to know and follow traffic laws
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