The Last Word: California State Law on Cell Phone Use On Bicycles

iStock_000016373642_LargeEver enjoyed a good ride with your headphones in? How about answered a call while riding? Sent a text while cycling? Do you know if any of those things are illegal in your state?

A number of states have already begun creating laws and setting heavy fines to prevent distracted cycling. Legal issues aside, distracted riding is extremely dangerous, and while lawmakers in each state acknowledge that a bicycle accident cannot cause near the same amount of damage a distracted driver can, the damage a rider could do to themselves in a single moment while looking at their phone could be catastrophic.

The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Stateline blog has released an article that delves into what exactly is being done by various states to end distracted cycling. California’s distracted driving laws actually extend to cyclists as well, meaning it prohibits the use of cell phones while riding a bike. Riders cannot even wear headphones while riding on streets and highways. Seven other states and a growing number of cities have adopted similar policies.

Why Haven’t More States Banned Cell Phone Use on Bicycles?

Many lawmakers in other states have been successfully blocking cell phone bans for years. Most studies agree that any kind of distraction, whether it’s a call, text, or listening to music in headphones, can cause an accident, but policymakers and opposition groups are adamant that imposing bans is not the best course of action. Rather, they suggest that riders simply use common sense and put away their phones.

Others argue that creating more laws will only make cyclists a bigger target for police, who they say should be focused on distracted drivers instead. Even more say that more rules and regulations on cycling would deter too many potential riders.

What do you think about prohibiting cell phone use on bicycles? Should there be state laws protecting riders from themselves, or do you believe that more laws will only make cyclists easier targets for police and less likely to get on the bike at all?