California Bicycle Laws
Unfortunately, most motorists don’t realize that they are legally obligated to share the road with bicycles. As a result, cyclists can quickly find themselves in very hazardous situations that can quickly lead to serious injuries and even death. One step that cyclists can take to keep themselves safe is to familiarize themselves with California’s bicycle laws. In the event of an accident, demonstrating that you were following the law may be critical if you need to pursue a claim for compensation.
Regardless of how safely you ride, accidents can still happen. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, the bicycle accident attorneys at the Banafshe Law Firm can help you pursue a claim for your injuries.
The operation of bicycles is subject to the California Vehicle Code. In general, cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other drivers on the road. This means that cyclists must obey all traffic signs and signals, obey speed limits, and generally follow the rules of the road.
More specifically, cyclists moving slower than the speed of traffic must ride as far to the right as practicable, except in the following situations:
Bike lanes are a fantastic addition to our roadways. They keep cyclists safer by providing them with a dedicated lane of travel, making them more visible to drivers, and separating them from faster-moving traffic. When traveling slower than the normal speed of traffic, cyclists are required to use the bike lane by California law.
However, it is important to note the distinction between a bike lane and a separated “bikeway,” such as a bike path that is adjacent to the roadway. Cyclists are not required to use separated bikeways, even when they are moving slower than traffic.
As mentioned above, cyclists are required to ride as close to the side of the road as practicable, except in certain situations. One of those situations is when the lane of travel is too narrow to safely share with cars moving in the same direction. In this situation, California law allows cyclists to “take the lane.” In other words, you are entitled to ride in the middle of the lane when cars cannot safely pass you. This protects cyclists from being struck from behind or forced off the road. Unfortunately, many motorists - and even police - are not aware that you have this right.
Cyclists are required to ride in the same direction as traffic. In other words, cyclists must ride on the correct side of the road rather than against the direction of traffic.
Whether or not you can ride your bicycle on the sidewalk is determined by local city or county ordinances. For example, in Los Angeles, biking on the sidewalk is permitted, provided that you are mindful of others’ safety. Check with local authorities if you are unsure whether biking is allowed on the sidewalk in your area.
California law prohibits bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles from being ridden or operated on freeways and expressways. This includes entrance and exit ramps or any other portion.
Bicycles are also prohibited from being ridden on toll roads and toll bridges unless expressly permitted by the California Department of Transportation.
In addition to specifying where you can ride, California law also imposes some restriction concerning how your bicycle must be equipped:
Lastly, California laws do impose certain requirements that apply when riding your bike:
Banafshe Law Firm has been an advocate for bicycle safety since 2003. Whether you have been injured or simply want to understand your rights, we can help - call us at 800-789-8840 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today.
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