Bicycle Safety Tips From the Ventura County Sheriff's Office

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Each year, hundreds of bicyclists in California are involved in a collision with a motor vehicle. Here are some important facts bicyclists and motorists should know.

California vehicle code section 21202(a): Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at the same time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.

A bicycle ridden at night must be equipped with a lamp emitting a white light. There must also be a red reflector on the rear of the bicycle that must be visible from 500 feet when directly in front of a motor vehicle whose headlights are on.

Riders under the age of 18 must wear a helmet at all times. All riders, regardless of age, should wear a helmet at all times to reduce injuries.

No person shall drive a motor vehicle in a bicycle lane established on a roadway except to park where parking is permitted, to enter or leave the roadway, or to prepare for a turn within a distance of 200 feet from the intersection.

Bicyclists must travel on the right side of the roadway in the direction of traffic, except when passing, making a legal left turn, riding on a one-way street, riding on a road that is too narrow, or when the right side of the road is closed due to road construction. (CVC 21650.)

Handlebars must not be higher than the rider's shoulders. (CVC 21201(b))

A driver of a motor vehicle shall not overtake or pass a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway at a distance of less than three feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator. (CVC 21760(c))

Bicyclists must obey the rules of the road because they travel along the roadway with other motorists. It is important to note drivers and bicyclists must share the road. When making turning movements in a car or on a bike, use caution, be seen (appropriate lighting after dark) and be predictable.

The Thousand Oaks Traffic Bureau urges citizens to drive their cars and ride their bicycles responsibly. Wear equipment to protect you and make you more visible to others, like a bike helmet, bright clothing (during the day), reflective gear, and a white front light and red rear light and reflectors on your bike (at night, or when visibility is poor). Plan your route if driving as a vehicle on the road; choose routes with less traffic and slower speeds. Your safest route may be away from traffic altogether, in a bike lane or on a bike path.

For more information on bicycle safety, visit:

You also avert motorists when you ride on some of these class I (protected) bike paths around Ventura County.

California Child Passenger Buckle-Up Laws and Seat Belt Safety Information


Booster seats save lives! Car crashes are a leading preventable cause of death and permanent injuries in children. SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. is a non-profit organization dedicated to child passenger safety. Its mission is to help reduce the number of serious and fatal traffic injuries suffered by children by promoting the correct, consistent use of safety seats and safety belts. The following information is provided courtesy of this organization. Visit for more information.

California Buckle-Up Laws for Parents

Children under age 8 must be properly buckled into a safety seat or booster in the back seat (V.C. 27360). Exceptions:

  • A child who weighs over 40 pounds and is riding in a car without lap and shoulder belts in the back seat may wear just a lap belt.
  • A child under age 8 who is at least 4' 9" may wear a safety belt if it fits properly.
  • Children under age 8 may ride in front if there is no forward-facing rear seat in vehicle, the child restraint cannot be properly installed in rear seat, all rear seats are occupied by other children age 7 or under, or for medical reasons.
  • A child in a rear-facing safety seat may not ride in front if there is an active passenger air bag.

NEW LAW EFFECTIVE 1/1/17: Children under 2 years old must be rear-facing unless they are 40 lbs or greater or are 40 inches in height.

Having problems with your child safety seat? Don't worry, you're not alone! Visit for a list of local safety seat inspection stations. Or try Safe Kids Ventura County, where you can schedule a car seat inspection in collaboration with the Ventura County Fire Department in Camarillo (Wednesdays 805.389.9748), Moorpark (Mondays 805.552.1917) and Thousand Oaks (Mondays 805.496.9035) by appointment.

Children age 8 or older may use the vehicle safety belt if it fits properly, with the lap belt low on the hips, touching the upper thighs and the shoulder belt crossing the center of the chest. If children are not tall enough for proper belt fit, they must ride in a booster or safety seat. (V.C. 27360.5)

Seat belt safety graphic courtesy of SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A.

Seat belt safety graphic courtesy of SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A.

According to SafetyBeltSafe, most kids need to ride in a booster seat until age 10 to 12. Using a booster instead of just a belt prevents 45% of crash injuries. If your child isn't using a booster, try the following simple 5-step test:

  1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
  2. Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
  3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
  4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
  5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?

Answering "no" to any of these questions indicates your child needs a booster seat.

Consequences for not properly buckling up children under age 16:

  • Parent gets ticket if child under 16 is not properly buckled up.
  • Driver gets ticket if parent is not in the car.
  • Cost of ticket could be more than $500 per child (including penalties) and $1,000 per child for a second offense. And a point is added to your driving record.

Related information:

  • Older babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing convertible seat until they are at least two years old.  Check seat instructions for maximum weight (30-45 lbs).
  • Children should ride in a safety seat with a harness as long as possible (40-90 lbs).
  • Children who have outgrown safety seats need a booster for proper belt fit (usually age 10-12)
  • Auto insurers must replace safety seats that were in use or damaged during a crash.

Refresher on other vehicle and safety laws:

  • Drivers and passengers 16 or older must be properly buckled up. Drivers can be ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt and for each unbuckled passenger. Passengers may also be ticketed if not properly buckled up. Fine is more than $100 per person, with penalties. (V.C. 27315)
  • Pickup truck passengers must be properly buckled up. The driver may be ticketed for letting passengers ride in the back of the truck. No exemption for camper shells. Cost of ticket can exceed $250, including penalties. (V.C. 23116)
  • Children up to 6 years old may not be left alone in vehicle if the health or safety of child is at risk, the engine is running, or the keys are in the ignition. The child must be supervised by someone at least age 12. Cost of ticket can exceed $500. (V.C. 15620)
  • Smoking in vehicle is prohibited if child under age 18 is present. Ticket can exceed $500.
  • Children under age 18 who are skating or riding a bicycle, scooter or skateboard must wear a properly fitted and fastened helmet.
  • All motorcycle drivers and passengers must wear a helmet that meets federal standards, fits correctly and has the proper label.

Ventura County Fire Department Offers Free Car Seat Safety Inspections


For those of you with kids looking for some help in ensuring your child safety seats are properly in place, consider the Ventura County Fire Department Child Passenger Safety Program.

Members of the Department are trained and certified through the National Highway Transportation Safety Association as a Car Seat Safety Technicians. The Program educates parents on proper use and installation of child safety seats. The department provides free car seat inspections, installation guidance, product recall checks and informative literature.

Program locations are near the Camarillo Airport, CHP Ventura, Thousand Oaks, CHP Moorpark and Moorpark Family Resource Center. More information at this link.

Volunteers from the VCFD Child Passenger Safety Program are knowledgeable and friendly!

Volunteers from the VCFD Child Passenger Safety Program are knowledgeable and friendly!

Child Car Booster Seat Laws in California are Changing on January 1, 2012


Something to be aware of for next year. Earlier this month Governor Brown signed into law SB 929 to change child booster seat requirements and align them with National Highway Transportation Safety Administration standards effective January 1, 2012.

Current law requires children in the State of California under age 6 or under 60 pounds to be seated in a child restraint seat (e.g. booster seat).

The new law changes this requirement to children under 8 years of age, unless they are 4' 9" or taller.

As a father of kids in this age range, I do think this new law makes sense. The lap belt is supposed to cross the hip area, not lie across the tummy, while the shoulder belt should lie across the chest, not hike up the neck. We've experimented and without the booster seats my kids are simply not fully protected and the belt could do some major damage to their small bodies if not situated correctly.

This law is interesting in that it takes away the weight parameter and replaces it with height. Your kid is "off the hook" if they are 4' 9" or taller before the age of 8. Jersey Shore "celebrity" Snooki Polizzi is 4' 9" tall at the age of 23. If she were just slightly shorter perhaps it would be in her interest to use a booster seat in her car.

I digress. It is interesting how laws vary state by state on this issue. The majority of states require kids 7 and under to sit in booster seats, yet it is currently perfectly legal for a 4 year old to use an adult seat belt in the state of Florida, while Arizona and South Dakota allows 5 year olds to wear adult seat belts. At the other extreme, kids under age 9 in Wyoming all must be in kid seats.

Check out for well organized information regarding child seat belt laws by state.

Visit the New City of Thousand Oaks "BikeSafe" Website!

BikeSafe is a new bicycle safety campaign launched in April 2008 designed to educate the Thousand Oaks community about good riding and driving practices that help keep everyone safe on the road. The campaign focuses on youth and adult cyclists, with an emphasis on the importance of riding with the traffic not against it.

BikeSafe has tips for local bicyclists and drivers, a great local area bike map, bicycling brochures for adults and children (in both English and Spanish), links to other bicycling website, information about local events and other information.

Check it out at or call the Thousand Oaks Public Works Department at 805.449.2400 for more information.