Southern California weather is fantastic, and the scenery is breathtaking. These are the perfect conditions for riding a bicycle. People here ride bicycles to save money, avoid traffic, get exercise, or simply enjoy the outdoors. For all these reasons, there are a lot of bicycles on the road. Motor vehicle drivers do not always watch out for bicyclists, so to avoid being in a bicycle accident, cyclists must be sure to watch out for drivers. They must also obey the State’s laws regarding bicycles.
Bicycle Laws in California
Bicyclists have the right to ride on the same roadways used by motor vehicles. Just as motor vehicle drivers must know and follow the laws in the California Vehicle Code (VC), it is every bicyclist’s responsibility to know and follow the laws in the VC that apply to riding a bicycle.
According to the Vehicle Code, a bicycle is a device ridden by a person that is propelled exclusively by the person through a belt, chain or gears. Anyone riding a bicycle in Long Beach, Los Angeles or any California city is subject to the laws set forth in VC section 21200 and 21200.5.
Some of the important laws bicyclists need to know include:
- Bicyclists have all the same rights, and all the same duties, as drivers of a motor vehicle.
- No person may ride a bicycle on a street or highway if he or she is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Penalties include fines and suspension of driving privileges.
- Bicycles must be equipped with brakes and handlebars that do not require the rider to raise his or her hands above the shoulders to grasp the normal steering area.
- All bicycles operated after dark must have a white light to illuminate the roadway, a red reflector on the rear of the bicycle and a white or yellow reflector on each pedal.
- Bicyclists traveling slower than traffic must ride as close as possible to the right-hand curb except when passing, turning left or avoiding an obstruction or dangerous condition.
- When traveling on a one-way street with two or more lanes, bicyclists should ride as close as possible to the left-hand curb.
- Bicycles should travel in the same direction as traffic.
- Bicyclists must use hand signals to indicate turns and sudden stops.
- A city or counsel may require a bicycle license within their jurisdiction.
- When crossing a street within a crosswalk bicyclists should walk, not ride, their bikes.
- Many Cities have laws prohibiting bikes from riding on sidewalks.
The Law Office of Michael D. Waks is concerned with protecting bicyclists on California roads. Educating the public about the rights of bicyclists is one way to help provide a safe environment for cyclists. To find a full text of California’s bicycle laws go to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
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