California State Bicycle Laws

Bicycles are subject to rules and regulations like any vehicle, and these are specified in the California Vehicle Code containing relevant state laws. Whether you are riding a bike on the road or the sidewalk, you will have to adhere to relevant laws so if there is an accident, you will not be liable for damages; generally speaking, cyclists have similar rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles. As laws vary from state to state, we are presently looking at California bicycle laws that cover where to ride, how to ride, riding under the influence, helmet laws, bike requirements, and operating a bike.

Where to Ride

Clearly, one of the most important aspects of California bicycle laws involve where you and can and cannot ride. A general rule of thumb is that if you are moving as fast as the traffic, you can ride where you like; if you are moving slower than the traffic, you can ride in the right lane. According to law, bike riders must ride as closely to the right side of the road as is safe and practical. The following exceptions to remaining as far over on the right side of the road include when you are passing, avoiding a hazard, if the lane is too narrow, turning left, or about to turn right if one is authorized.

The Bicycle Lane

If you are on a roadway with a bike lane and are traveling slower than the traffic, you are legally required to use the bike lane, except for under the aforementioned circumstances.

Riding with Traffic

Riders must travel with the natural traffic flow. They must use the right side of the roadway and be going in the same direction as the traffic flow. The exceptions to this rule are when they are passing, making a left turn, if the road is too narrow, on a one-way street, or if the right side of the roadway is under construction or closed.

Mopeds and Electric Bikes

Mopeds and electric bikes are high speed and do not fall under the same category as regular bicycles do. Type-3 electric bikes and gas-powered bikes are not permitted on bicycle paths or trails, unless it is specifically authorized by local authorities. They are permitted on separated bikeways next to the roadway or in bike lanes. They require their operators to be wearing a helmet and cannot be operated by anyone under the age of 16. Type-1 and 2 low-speed electric bikes are viewed as similar to regular bikes so are permitted where regular bikes are, unless there is a posted sign specifically prohibiting electric bikes.

If you were riding your bike in the state of California in complete adherence to California bicycle laws and sustained an injury due to the actions of someone operating a motor vehicle or another cyclist, contact an attorney who helps injured cyclists.