Where on the road can I ride my bike?

Where on the road can I ride my bike?

You can't ride your bike on the sidewalk in certain cities in California. And in many cities, there are only certain sidewalks where you can ride.

So if you have to ride in the street, where on the street can you ride your bike?

The answer can be found deep inside the California Vehicle Code. I dug it up so you won't have to.

California Vehicle Code section 21202 states:

  • (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway

So unless you're cycling as fast as the cars on the road (yes, it happens -- I once worked with a cyclist who was riding over 40 mph), you should ride your bike in the same direction that vehicles are traveling, and you should be as close as feasible to the right curb/edge of the road. And where there's a bike lane, you should use it.

However, there are five exceptions that allow you to ride your bike somewhere other than the far right side of the road. Those are:

  1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or 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.
  4. When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.
  5. On a one-way road with two or more marked traffic lanes, you may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of that roadway as practicable.

Following the law when cycling will not necessarily prevent a car accident, especially when there are so many drivers who are distracted by their cell phone or driving under the influence, but it makes an accident with a car less likely. The more you can do to protect yourself while biking, the better.

And a note about the photo, you can't wear headphones in both ears while riding a bike in California (California Vehicle Code section 27400). Good thing it looks like he stopped pedaling before the photo.

Attorney Blaise Patzkowski is a cyclist and advocate for the rights of injured bicyclists in Southern California. If you or your family member was hurt in a bicycle accident, please contact us to speak directly with Mr. Patzkowski.

Disclaimer: The information here is general information that should not be taken as legal advice. It cannot be guaranteed to be accurate, current or complete. No attorney-client relationship is established between you and our law firm by reading this article. This article should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a lawyer about the specific facts of your case.

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Blaise Patzkowski has been helping
Orange County, Los Angeles, and Inland Empire accident victims for over ten years.
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