DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - Downtown may already be equipped with a small network of bike lanes, including the green strip that runs down Spring Street, but county officials have an urgent message for drivers: “Every lane is a bike lane.”

That’s the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s motto for a new marketing campaign launched last week to increase bicycle traffic safety. It will be the tagline of signs on buses, billboards and radio spots seen and heard around the region through May 17.

“The breakneck pace of bikeway construction demonstrates that Los Angeles is riding fast on its way to becoming a truly bike-friendly city,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in a statement. “As more cyclists take to our streets we need to ensure that safety and awareness are of utmost importance as our riders share the road.”

While some drivers often assume that streets are for motor vehicles only, state law gives cyclists the same rights to the road as cars. Bikers are supposed to ride as far on the right as practicable, but can take up the full lane when traveling as fast or faster than car traffic, or to avoid hazards.

Of course, the rule goes both ways — cyclists must obey the same traffic rules as cars. That means no rolling through red lights or against one-way traffic.

As part of its overall bicycle safety campaign, Metro also plans to begin traffic skills courses for bicyclists. For info on the future classes, e-mail Metro’s Bicycle Program at