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Bicycle Laws in California Every LA Cyclist Should Know

Saturday, January 16, 2021

California is known for its progressive attitude towards cyclists. "The Sunshine State" boasts gorgeous weather and sluggish traffic. That's why so many residents prefer to commute, run errands, and get their daily workout on a bicycle. However, the state doesn't do much to inform cyclists of their rights and responsibilities publicly. After all, it's not as if we need a license to cycle!

  • Here in Los Angeles, we have a recognized problem of bicycle injuries and a remarkable number of fatalities.  
  • The good news is that bike lanes are cropping up everywhere throughout the state. That's great for biker safety.
  • The bad news is that more people are hitting the roadways without proper knowledge of California's bicycle laws.

So today, we're going to cover the laws every LA bicyclist should know. Feel free to bookmark this page or share it on social media. Our goal is to promote bicycle safety in Los Angeles.

As always, if you've been injured in a biking accident in LA and need legal help, contact us.

California Vehicle Codes Cyclists Should Know

CA VC 21200, On the Use of a Bicycle

On California's streets and highways, bikes are treated the same as motor vehicles. In other words, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as someone driving a car. You must obey stop signs, stay in the correct lane for your direction (don't ride facing into traffic), and use correct hand signals before braking or turning. Furthermore, motorists and bicyclists in California have an obligation to share the road. Each party owes a duty of care to the other.

CA VC 21200.5, Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

Here in California, it's unlawful to operate a bicycle on the road while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The fines for adults are moderate, up to $250 for the first offense. But underage cyclists could lose their driving privileges for one year. 

Beyond your behavior as a safe and sober operator, California also has laws regarding a bicycle's equipment and operational ability. 

CA VC 21201, Bicycle Equipment Requirements

California sets specific minimum requirements for bicycles that operate on public roadways. These are very important for your safety and the safety of others.

  • All bikes must have operating brakes to be on a public roadway. 
  • A bike must have handlebars that rest below the user's shoulder level. "Ape hangers" look cool but aren't appropriate for street riding.
  • Bicycles must be an appropriate size for the rider. The official requirement is that the rider can sit on the bike and have one foot on the ground.
  • Any bicycle that operates on a public road in the dark must have a headlamp emitting white light, a red reflector on the rear, and reflectors on the pedals. If a bike doesn't have a headlamp, a rider may attach/wear one on their helmet or body.

Finally, let's remember that bicycle rider requirements are very straightforward. Minors must always wear a helmet when cycling, and headphones/earbuds are never allowed. This is for your safety and the safety of others.

Freeman & Freeman LLP — Personal Injury Attorneys for LA Bicyclists

At Freeman & Freeman LLP, our team of Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyers knows how to get maximum compensation for our clients. If you or your family member was injured while riding a bike in LA, call the LA bicycle accident lawyers of Freeman & Freeman for a free consultation at 818-992-2919. Or contact us online. We can help you get the compensation you deserve for your injury or loss. Don't settle for less than you deserve!

Bicycle Laws in California Every LA Cyclist Should Know

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From our offices in Woodland Hills, California, Freeman & Freeman, LLP, provides legal advice and representation for clients in communities throughout the state, including those in Burbank, Glendale, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, Tarzana, Santa Clarita, Agoura Hills, Reseda, Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Northridge, Granada Hills, Pacoima, Panorama City, North Hollywood, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Lancaster, Palmdale and Alhambra.