Rules of the Road


The following is information from the California Vehicle Code relating to the operation and equipping of bicycles.

Bicycle Use

Cyclists are subject to all the laws applicable to the driver of a vehicle.

Bicycling Under Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

Bicycling under the influence of alcohol or drugs is punishable by a fine of up to $250. If the person is under 21 but over 13 years of age, his or her driving privilege will be suspended for one year or delayed for one year once the person is eligible to drive.

The Bicycle

a) All bikes must have a brake which will enable the operator to make one braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

b) You are not allowed to ride bikes with handlebars so raised that you must elevate your hands above the level of their shoulders in order to grasp the normal steering grip area.

c) You must be able to safely stop the bicycle, support it in an upright position with at least one foot on the ground, and restart it in a safe manner.

d) Every bicycle operated upon any highway during darkness shall be equipped with the following:

  1. A light emitting a white light which illuminates the street and is visible from a distance of 300 feet to the front and the sides of the bicycle.
  2. A red reflector mounted on the rear of the bicycle and visible from 500 feet to the rear of the bicycle.
  3. A white or yellow reflector mounted on each pedal visible 200 feet to the front and rear of the bicycle and a white or red reflector on each side to the rear of the center of the bicycle, except bicycles which are equipped with reflectorized tires on the front and the rear need not be equipped with side reflectors. All reflectorized tires must meet DMV requirements.

How to Ride

a) If you are traveling less than the normal speed of traffic you shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:

  1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or motor vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
  2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
  3. When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge. For purposes of this section, a "substandard width lane" is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

b) On a one-way street or highway with two or more marked traffic lanes, you may ride on the left or right side of the street.

Do not hitch rides by holding onto other vehicles or carry passengers other than those on separate attached seats. If the passenger is four years old or younger or weighs 40 pounds or less, the seat shall adequately retain the passenger in place and protect him/her from the bicycle's moving parts. Do not carry any package, bundle, or article which prevents you from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars.

Bicycle Lanes

You may ride outside the bike lane:

  1. When overtaking or passing another bicycle, vehicle, or pedestrian within the lane or about to enter the lane if such overtaking and passing cannot be done safely within the lane.
  2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
  3. When necessary to leave the lane to avoid debris or other hazardous conditions.


Youth Helmets

Cyclists under 18 must wear helmets.


Headsets and Earplugs

Do not wear any headset covering, or any earplugs in, both ears.


Local Ordinances

In addition to these state laws, many communities have local ordinances. Check with your local police department regarding bicycle registration, licensing, and regulations (sidewalk riding, etc.) in your area.