Thousands of bicycle accidents occur each year in California, resulting in serious injuries and even death. To help avoid dangerous crashes, bicyclists should be familiar with and follow California’s bicycle laws, just as drivers should be aware of bicyclists and their rights. Several provisions of the California Vehicle Code govern bicycle operation and equipment in the state, including these key rules:
Bicyclists have the same rights and obligations as drivers; all laws that apply to motor-vehicle drivers also apply to bicyclists, and drivers must share the road.
Bicyclists may not ride on a street or highway under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Bicycling while impaired can result in a fine of up to $250.
All bicycles must be equipped with brakes and not have frame adjustments that prevent the rider from supporting the bike in an upright position with one foot on the ground when stopped.
When riding a bicycle in the dark, the bike must have a white front headlight (or a similar headlight attached to the bicyclist), a red reflector on the back of the bicycle and white or yellow reflectors on each pedal.
Bicyclists must ride as close as possible to the right-side curb or edge of the road unless they are riding at the normal speed of traffic and except when passing another biker or driver moving in the same direction, when preparing for a left turn, when riding on a one-way street with more than one lane or when reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions.
It is illegal to “hitch a ride” or for a biker to attach him or herself to a streetcar or motor vehicle.
Every person riding a bicycle must have a permanent and regular attached seat.
Every bicyclist under 18 years old is required to wear a helmet.
Bicyclists may not wear headphones, ear buds, headsets or earplugs while riding.
Obeying California’s bike laws will help bicyclists lower their risks of bicycle accidents. But, despite their best efforts, sometimes bikers are injured by negligent drivers. If you have been hurt in a bicycle accident, contact a California personal injury attorney to discuss any legal claims you may have.