Safe biking tips from an expert

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 one of your letter writers.

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.

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.

Although in California it is not illegal for an adult to bike without a helmet, I choose to wear one when I'm biking.

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.

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