California Bicycle Laws
What are the latest Bike Laws in California?
We’ve compiled a list of important bicycle laws for the state of California. This comprehensive list comes from multiple sources including: CA.gov’s plain language summary of California Vehicle code; State of California DMV Sharing the Road; and a very good resource, CALBIKE California Bicycle Coalition.
We are also proud to mention that CALBIKE references Estey & Bomberger, LLP among other firms in the state on their “Crash Help” page/link. E&B is the only firm listed for Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego Counties.
- Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers, and are subject to the same rules and regulations. Refer to the California Driver Handbook to become familiar with these rules. (CVC 21200)
- Bicyclists traveling at the speed of traffic may ride within the travel lane. (CVC 21202)
- When bicyclists are traveling slower than the normal speed of traffic, they must ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the road. (Some exceptions, like preparing for left turn.) (CVC 21202)
- On a road with a bike lane, a bicyclist traveling less than the normal speed of traffic must use the bike lane.(Some exceptions, like preparing for left turn.) (CVC 21208)
- Bicyclists shall not leave a bicycle lane until it can be done safely and after using the appropriate signal. (CVC 21208)
- Bicyclists must ride on the right side of the road in the direction of traffic. (Some exceptions, like preparing for left turn.) This does not prevent a bicyclist from riding on any shoulder of a highway where it is not prohibited. (CVC 21650)
- Bicyclists should ride far enough away from parked vehicles to avoid being hit by an opening door. (No direct CVC reference)
- Motorized bicycles may not be used on bicycle paths, trails, or lanes unless allowed by local authority. (CVC 21207.5)
- No one may stop or park a bicycle, vehicle, or other object on a bikeway or bicycle path or trail with the exception of utility or public utility vehicles, etc. (CVC 21211)
- Local cities and counties regulate whether bicyclists may ride on sidewalks. (CVC 21206)
- Bicycles, including motorized bicycles, may not be ridden on freeways and expressways where prohibited by the California Department of Transportation. (CVC 21960)
- Bicycles may not cross a toll bridge unless permitted to do so by the California Department of Transportation. (CVC 23330)
- Bicycles operating on the roadway must be equipped with a brake that allows the operator to perform a one-braked wheel skid on dry, level, and clean pavement. (CVC 21201(a))
- Bicycle handlebars must not be higher than the rider’s shoulders. (CVC 21201(b))
- A bicycle ridden on the roadway must be small enough for the rider to stop, support it with one foot on the ground, and start safely.Bicyclists riding on roadways must have a permanent and regular seat.(CVC 21201(c))
- At night, a bicycle must be equipped with a white light that is visible from 300 feet from the front and sides of the bicycle.A light attached to the bicyclist and visible from 300 feet may be used instead of the bicycle light. (CVC 21201(d) and (e))
- At night bicycles must be equipped with all of the following reflectors (CVC 21201(d) and (e)):
- A red reflector on the rear visible from 500 feet to the rear.
- A white or yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe, or ankle visible from the front and rear of the bicycle from a distance of 200 feet.
- A white or yellow reflector on each side forward of the center of the bicycle and a white or red reflector on each side to the rear of the center of the bicycle.These reflectors are not required if the bicycle has reflectorized front and back tires.
- Bicycle passengers four years of age or younger and weighing 40 pounds or less must have a seat which retains them in place and protects them from the moving parts of the bicycle. (CVC 21204)
- Bicyclists and bicycle passengers under age 18 must wear an approved helmet when riding on a bicycle. (CVC 21212)
- Bicyclists may not wear earplugs in both ears or a headset covering both ears.Hearing aids are allowed. (CVC 27400)
- Bicyclists may not ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. (CVC 21200.5)
- Bicyclists may not hitch rides on vehicles. (CVC 21203)
- Bicyclists may not carry items which keep them from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars. (CVC 21205)
- Bicyclists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians within marked crosswalks or within unmarked crosswalks at intersections.Bicyclists must also yield the right-of-way to totally or partially blind pedestrians carrying a predominantly white cane or using a guide dog. (CVC 21950, 21963)
- Bicyclists may not leave bicycles on their side on the sidewalk or park bicycles in a manner which obstructs pedestrians. (CVC21210)
- Bicyclists must obey STOP signs and red signal lights. It’s a good idea to stop for yellow lights too–rushing through a yellow light may not leave you enough time to make it across the intersection before the light change. (DMV reference)