Bicycling “Rules of the Road”

This is a summary of the California Vehicle Code bicycle provisions. Please check vehicle code for actual reference.

Bicyclist Rights (CVC 21200) Bicyclists have all the rights and responsibilities of vehicle drivers.

Alcohol and Drugs (CVC 21200.5) It is against the law to ride a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Equipment (CVC 21202 and 21204) Bicycles must be equipped with at least a brake which allows operators to execute to a wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement. Handlebars must not be higher than the rider’s shoulders. Bicycles must be small enough for the rider to stop, support it with one foot on the ground, and restart safely.  All riders must have a permanent, regular seat. Bicycle passengers under 40 lbs. must have a seat which retains them in place and protects them from moving parts.

At night bicycles must be equipped with:

  • a white headlight or white light attached to the rider and visible from the front;
  • a rear red reflector and white or yellow pedal reflectors;
  • a white or yellow reflector on the front of the bicycle visible from the side;
  • a red or white reflector on the rear of the bicycle visible from the side.

Use of the Roadway (CVC 21202) Bicycles traveling slower than the normal speed of traffic must ride as close to the right side of the road as practicable except:

  • when passing;
  • preparing for a left turn;
  • to avoid hazards and dangerous conditions;
  • or if the lane is too narrow.

Hitching Rides (CVC 21203) Bicyclists may not hitch rides on vehicles.

Carrying Articles (CVC 21205) Bicyclists may not carry items which keep them from using at least one hand upon the handlebars.

Motorized Bicycles (CVC 21207.5) Motorized bicycles may not be used on trails, bike path, or lanes.

Bicycle Lane Use (CVC 21208) Bicyclists traveling slower than traffic must use bike lanes except when making a left turn, passing, or avoiding hazardous conditions.

Obstruction of Pedestrians (CVC 21210) Bicyclists may not leave bicycles on their sides on the sidewalk or park bicycles in a manner which obstructs pedestrians.

Bikeway Obstruction (CVC 21211) No one may stop on or park a bicycle on a bicycle path.

Helmets (CVC 21212) Bicyclists and passengers under age 18 must wear an ANSI or Snell approved helmet when a passenger or riding upon a bicycle.

Direction of Travel (CVC 21650) Bicyclist must travel on the right side of the roadway in the direction of traffic.

Freeways (CVC 21960) Bicyclists may not ride on the freeways where prohibited.

Toll Bridges (CVC 23330) Bicyclists may not cross a toll bridge unless permitted by signs.