Bicycling // For Your Health and Safety

For Your Health
& 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.

The Arizona Department of Transportation has developed several education guides to help you walk or bike safely. These are:
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:

  1. Ride on the right - Always ride with the flow of traffic. Riding against traffic is dangerous.

  2. Ride predictably - Follow the same rules motorists do, and travel in a straight line without swerving.

  3. Obey traffic control devices (signs, signals, lane markings) - Bicyclists must follow the rules of the road like other vehicles.

  4. Protect your head - Always wear a helmet, even on the shortest trips.

  5. Follow lane markings - Don't turn left from the right lane. Don't ride straight in a lane marked Right-Turn Only.

  6. 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.

  7. Signal before you move or stop - Hand signals let drivers and others know what you intend to do.

  8. Enter streets and intersections cautiously - Always check for oncoming traffic.

  9. Ride defensively on the road - Anticipate hazards and be ready to adjust your position in traffic.

  10. Don't ride on the sidewalk - Bicycles (except postal and police bicycles) are not legal on sidewalks in many cities.

  11. Be visible and be seen - Wear bright colors to increase your visibility and make eye contact with drivers.

  12. Look behind you - Know how to look over your shoulder and not swerve or lose balance. Rear-view mirrors are an option.

  13. 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
    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

Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
National SAFE KIDS Campaign

About 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.

Make sure your helmet fits correctly! It should be level on your head, just above your eyebrows, not too far back exposing your forehead nor too far forward.

Check the fit of your helmet by placing two fingers above your eyebrow; this is where the front of your helmet should rest.

Your helmet should be snug, level, and stable. Don't use pads to make a large helmet fit. Use pads to customize the fit.

Adjust the side straps so the V (where side straps join) is under each ear.
Buckle the strap tight enough under your chin so that it's snug when you open your mouth wide.

After a crash or impact to your helmet, get a new one right away.


Look, and Use 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.
Look first, then signal, then move


Correct Motorist Behavior
  1. 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

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

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

  4. 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

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

Recognize common Signs for Bicycle Facilities

Sign images are from the Manual of Traffic Signs
by Richard C. Moeur

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


Safety Links

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.

Helmets prevent an estimated 45 to 88 percent of cyclist head injuries.
Of bicyclists killed in 2002, 85 percent reportedly were not wearing helmets according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
There were 16 pedal cyclist fatalities in Arizona in 2002 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.