It used to be that if you wanted to ride your bike on a California freeway, you were going to have to break the law to do it. California lawmakers, however, have since recognized the bicyclist's right to travel, and have opened up more than 1,000 miles of California freeways so that bicyclists can get from one point to another. There are a few things you need to watch out for if you're planning a freeway cycle, though.
Make sure it's legal. The California courts didn't say "you can ride anywhere you want," they just said that certain portions of the freeways were open to cyclists. Before you bike up -- or down -- the on ramp, check for any signs that say something like "Bicycling prohibited." If you don't see any signs, that's fine -- feel free to bike. If you do see a sign, you'll have to find some other stretch of freeway to bike down.
Obey the signs. Once you're on the freeway, you're still not completely in the clear. CalTrans has the authority to direct any type of traffic off the freeway as needed. If you see a sign that says "Bicycles Must Exit," that means you have to get off the freeway at or before the designated exit; otherwise, you might just get a friendly visit from the California Highway Patrol.
Obey the rules of the road. Stay off the main freeway lanes and in the side lanes instead. This may shock you, but your Schwinn isn't going to be able to match the speed of even the lowliest of Hyundais. Follow the same rules that you would follow were you on a busy surface street.
Be smart. Stay hydrated, keep aware of your surroundings, wear your helmet at all times, and make sure you have at least one light -- preferably more than one -- on your bike if you plan to ride at night. It would be a shame to become some semi-truck's new hood ornament just because you forgot that truckers don't have night vision goggles.
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