California bicycle laws: where you can ride and the exceptions

Law Offices of Steven Zwick
May 31 2018

Cycling is a popular mode of transportation, especially in California where the weather permits it. Cyclists are typically given the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles, and it’s important to know what those entail. This article will tell you where you are permitted to ride, and when exceptions can be made. Generally, if you’re able to keep up with traffic, you’re allowed to ride wherever you want. If you aren’t here are the rules:

You Can Still Be In Lane Even If You’re Riding SlowCalifornia bike law states that cyclists must ride as close to the right-hand side of the lane as practicable. However, there are exceptions to this law such as:

  • If you’re passing someone
  • If you’re about to take a left turn and are situating yourself
  • The lane becomes too narrow to share with another vehicle
  • Upon approaching a junction where a right turn is permitted
  • If you’re trying to avoid a hazard

In any of these circumstances, a cyclist has the legal right to move further into the lane. Many motor vehicle operators and even some police aren’t aware of the conditions in which a cyclist is permitted to “take the lane,” so if a legal issue arises from this situation, procuring the help of bicycle attorneys could be useful.

The Bike LaneIf you’re riding on a road that has a bicycle lane, you are required to ride within that lane if you are moving slower than traffic. The exceptions to this rule are:

  • When making a left turn
  • If you’re avoid hazards
  • If you’re passing
  • When taking a right-hand turn where doing so is permitted

While many motorists will get frustrated with cyclists who don’t use the bicycle lane, you are able to ride in the regular lane if you can keep up with traffic.

Other Areas or Circumstances

  1. Bike Path Obstructions: No one is permitted to stop on a bicycle path, or park their bike on a bicycle path.
  2. Sidewalks: Whether or not bicyclists may ride on sidewalks is determined by the individual city or county.
  3. Freeways: Bicycles are not permitted on freeways or expressways where it is prohibited by the California DOT or local authorities. This includes motorized bikes.If you are unsure where you are permitted to ride or have been ticketed for riding in an area you believe to be permissible, you may want to obtain legal advice.

Bicyclists are also in danger of the same accidents and injuries that other motorists are exposed to. Bicycle accidents can be just as severe as traditional accidents and can be subject to the same legal compensation. If you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident and are looking to file a personal injury claim, then you should contact a bicycle lawyer immediately. Personal injury cases are settled pretrial 95% to 96% of the time, so you may not even see a courtroom.

Involved in a bicycle accident? Call us today.