California Department of Transportation
 

Bike Laws

Rights and Responsibilities

Equipment (· Brakes · Handlebars · Bicycle Size · Lights and Reflectors )

Rules of the Road (· Two-way Streets · One-way Streets · Bicycle Lanes)

Hitching Rides

Riding on Seats

Carrying Articles

Hand Signals

Parking

 

Rights and Responsibilities

Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway or any paved shoulder has all the rights and is subject to all the duties applicable to the driver of a motor vehicle (e.g., must stop at stop signs, red lights, yield to emergency vehicles, and etc.), except those provisions which by their very nature can not apply (Ref Sec 21200). Back to top

Equipment

Brakes

No person shall operate a bicycle on a roadway unless it is equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make one wheel skid on dry level clean pavement (Ref Sec 21201(a)).

Handlebars

No person shall operate on the highway any bicycle equipped with handlebars so raised that the operator must elevate his hands above the level of his shoulders in order to grasp the normal steering grip area (Ref See 21201(b)).

Bicycle Size

No person shall operate upon any highway a bicycle which is of such a size as to prevent the operator from safely stopping the bicycle, supporting it in an upright position with at least one foot on the ground, and restarting it in a safe manner (Ref Sec 21201(c)).

Lights and Reflectors

Every bicycle operated upon any highway during darkness shall be equipped as follows: (1) with a lamp emitting a white light which, while the bicycle is in motion, illuminates the highway in front of the bicyclist and is visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the bicycle (or a lamp or lamp combination meeting the same requirements may be attached to the operator); (2) with a red reflector of a type approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles on the rear which shall be visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beam of headlamp on a motor vehicle; (3) with a white or yellow reflector, of a type approved by the Department on each pedal visible from the front and rear of the bicycle, and with a white or red reflector on each side to the rear of the center of the bicycle, except those bicycles which are equipped with reflectorized tires on the front and rear need not be equipped with these side reflectors (Ref Sec 21201(d&e;)). Back to top

Rules of the Road

Two-way Streets Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than a normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at such time shall ride as close as practical to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations. (1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or motor vehicle proceeding in the same direction. (2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway. (3) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right hand curb or edge. For purposes of this section, a "substandard width lane" is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane. (Ref:Sec.21202(a)).

One-way Streets

Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway of a highway, which highway carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as practicable (Ref:Sec.21202(b)).

Bicycle Lanes

Whenever a bicycle lane has been established on a roadway, any person operating a bicycle upon the roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction shall ride within the bicycle lane, except that such person may move out of the lane under any of the following situations: (1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle, vehicle, or pedestrian within the lane or about to enter the lane, if such overtaking and passing cannot be done safely within the lane. (2) When preparing for a left turn at any intersection or into a private road or driveway. (3) When reasonably necessary to leave the bicycle lane to avoid debris or other hazardous conditions. (Ref:Sec.21208(a)).

No person operating a bicycle shall leave a bicycle lane until the movement can be made with reasonable safety, and then only after giving an appropriate signal in the event that any vehicle may be affected by the movement (Ref:Sec.21205(b)). Back to top

Hitching Rides

No person riding upon a bicycle shall attach the bicycle or himself to any streetcar or vehicle on the roadway (Ref:Sec.21203). Back to top

Riding on Seats

No person operating a bicycle upon a highway shall ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular attached seat. (Ref:Sec.21204(a)).

No operator shall allow a person riding as a passenger, and no person shall ride as a passenger, on a bicycle upon a highway other than upon or astride a separate attached seat. If the passenger is a minor weighing 40 pounds or less, the seat shall have adequate provision for retaining the minor in place and for protecting the minor from the moving parts of the bicycle (Ref:Sec.21204(b)). Back to top

Carrying Articles

No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle or article which prevents the operator from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars (Ref:Sec.21205). Back to top

Hand Signals

All required signals given by hand and arm shall be given in the following manner: (1) Left turn -- hand and arm extended horizontally beyond the side of the bicycle.

(2) Right turn -- left hand and arm extended upward beyond the side of the bicycle or right hand and arm extended horizontally to the right side of the bicycle.

(3) Stop or sudden decrease of speed signal -- hand and arm extended downward beyond the side of the vehicle (Ref:Sec.22111). Back to top

Parking

No person shall leave a bicycle lying on its side on any sidewalk, or shall park a bicycle on a sidewalk in any other position, so that there is not an adequate path for pedestrian traffic (Ref:Sec.21210). Back to top