California Bike Laws: Laws Affecting Two Wheeled Vehicles

Christopher B. Dolan

THE DOLAN LAW FIRM
BIKE LAW
www.bike-law.com
1438 Market Street San Francisco
1498 Alice Street Oakland
415-421-2800

GENERAL RULE- BIKES FOLLOW VEHICLE CODE

Cal. Veh. Code § 21200. Rights and duties of bicycle riders; peace officer exemption

(a) Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs, and by Division 10 (commencing with Section 20000), Section 27400, Division 16.7 (commencing with Section 39000), Division 17 (commencing with Section 40000.1), and Division 18 (commencing with Section 42000), except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.

(b)(1) Any peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code, operating a bicycle during the course of his or her duties is exempt from the requirements of subdivision (a), except as those requirements relate to driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs, if the bicycle is being operated under any of the following circumstances:

(A) In response to an emergency call. (B) While engaged in rescue operations. (C) In the immediate pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law. (2) This subdivision does not relieve a peace officer from the duty to operate a bicycle with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway.

RIDING ON A SIDEWALK

Persons riding bicycles on sidewalks are subject to the same Vehicle Code requirements that apply to persons riding bicycles on roadways and may be subject to additional local regulations. 76 Op.Atty.Gen. 214, 9-29-93.

RIDING PERSON ON HANDLEBARS

Giving instruction that no person driving a motor vehicle shall knowingly permit any person to ride on any portion of vehicle not designed or intended for use of passengers, when considered with section of Vehicle Code which provides that any person riding a bicycle upon a highway shall be granted all the rights and shall be subject to all the duties applicable to the driver of an automobile, was not prejudicial error.

Tomson v. Kischassey (1956) 144 Cal.App.2d 363.

APPLICATION TO CHILDREN

Sections 21650, 22100 (of the California Vehicle Code) and this section, imposing duties upon operators of vehicles, impose objective legislatively fixed standard of care on adults, which is not applicable to young children who are held to different, more limited, and subjective standard of care. Brown v. Connolly (App. 2 Dist. 1962) 24 Cal.Rptr. 57, 206 Cal.App.2d 582.

SIGNALING BY BICYCLISTS

The requirement of Veh.C.1935, § 544, 546, of warning before turning a "vehicle" to cross at intersection applies to bicycles. Wright v. Sniffin (App. 3 Dist. 1947) 80 Cal.App.2d 358, 181 P.2d 675

DIRECTION OF TRAVEL

Cal. Veh. Code § 21650.1. Bicycles; operation on roadway or shoulder; direction

A bicycle operated on a roadway, or the shoulder of a highway, shall be operated in the same direction as vehicles are required to be driven upon the roadway.

LANE POSITION

Cal. Veh. Code § 21202. Operation on roadway

(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 except under any of the following situations:

(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, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. 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.

(4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

(b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway of a highway, which highway carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of that roadway as practicable.

TURNING MOVEMENTS –

Cal. Veh. Code § 22100. Turning upon a highway

Except as provided in Section 22100.5 or 22101, the driver of any vehicle intending to turn upon a highway shall do so as follows:

(a) Right Turns. Both the approach for a right-hand turn and a right-hand turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except:

(1) Upon a highway having three marked lanes for traffic moving in one direction that terminates at an intersecting highway accommodating traffic in both directions, the driver of a vehicle in the middle lane may turn right into any lane lawfully available to traffic moving in that direction upon the roadway being entered.

(2) If a right-hand turn is made from a one-way highway at an intersection, a driver shall approach the turn as provided in this subdivision and shall complete the turn in any lane lawfully available to traffic moving in that direction upon the roadway being entered.

(3) Upon a highway having an additional lane or lanes marked for a right turn by appropriate signs or markings, the driver of a vehicle may turn right from any lane designated and marked for that turning movement.

(b) Left Turns. The approach for a left turn shall be made as close as practicable to the left-hand edge of the extreme left-hand lane or portion of the roadway lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of the vehicle and, when turning at an intersection, the left turn shall not be made before entering the intersection. After entering the intersection, the left turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection in a lane lawfully available to traffic moving in that direction upon the roadway being entered, except that upon a highway having three marked lanes for traffic moving in one direction that terminates at an intersecting highway accommodating traffic in both directions, the driver of a vehicle in the middle lane may turn left into any lane lawfully available to traffic moving in that direction upon the roadway being entered.

Right Turns for cars are to be made as close to curb as possible so that bikes do not get hit on right side of car,

FROM CAL DMV HANDBOOK

http://www.dmv.ca.gov/top_nav/top_nav_pdf_link.htm

Example of a right turn. Right turns. To make a right turn, drive close to the right edge of the road. If there is a bike lane, drive into the bike lane no more than 200 feet before the turn. Watch for bicyclists or motorcyclists who may get between your vehicle and the curb. Begin signaling about 100 feet before the turn. Look over your right shoulder and reduce your speed. Stop behind the limit line. Look both ways and turn when it is safe. Do not turn wide. Complete your turn in the right lane.

BIKES PASSING BIKES

Cal. Veh. Code § 21750. Overtake and pass to left

The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle or a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left at a safe distance without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken vehicle or bicycle, subject to the limitations and exceptions hereinafter stated.

BIKES OBEYING SIGNALS

Cal. Veh. Code § 21456.2. Bicycle operators; obeying provisions of this article; bicycle signals

(a) Unless otherwise directed by a bicycle signal as provided in Section 21456.3, an operator of a bicycle shall obey the provisions of this article applicable to the driver of a vehicle.

EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS

BIKE EQUIPMENT

Cal. Veh. Code § 21201. Equipment requirements

(a) No person shall operate a bicycle on a roadway unless it is equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make one braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

(b) No person shall operate on the highway a bicycle equipped with handlebars so raised that the operator must elevate his hands above the level of his shoulders in order to grasp the normal steering grip area.

(c) No person shall operate upon a highway a bicycle that is of a size that prevents the operator from safely stopping the bicycle, supporting it in an upright position with at least one foot on the ground, and restarting it in a safe manner.

(d) A bicycle operated during darkness upon a highway, a sidewalk where bicycle operation is not prohibited by the local jurisdiction, or a bikeway, as defined in Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, shall be equipped with all of the following:

(1) A lamp emitting a white light that, while the bicycle is in motion, illuminates the highway, sidewalk, or bikeway in front of the bicyclist and is visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the bicycle.

(2) A red reflector on the rear that shall be visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle.

(3) A white or yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe, or ankle visible from the front and rear of the bicycle from a distance of 200 feet.

(4) A white or yellow reflector on each side forward of the center of the bicycle, and a white or red reflector on each side to the rear of the center of the bicycle, except that bicycles that are equipped with reflectorized tires on the front and the rear need not be equipped with these side reflectors. The reflectors and reflectorized tires shall be of a type meeting requirements established by the department.

(e) A lamp or lamp combination, emitting a white light, attached to the operator and visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the bicycle, may be used in lieu of the lamp required by paragraph (1) of subdivision (d).

CHILDREN

Failure to include in instruction relative to presumption of negligence arising from violation, if any, of minor bicycle rider of this section requiring bicycle to have lighted lamps, a statement that children were governed by special standard of conduct was reversible error. Anderson v. Low (App. 2 Dist. 1961) 16 Cal.Rptr. 666, 196 Cal.App.2d 482.

WELL LIGHTED INTERSECTIONS

Where intersection at which bicycle on which minor plaintiff was riding was struck by defendants' truck was well lighted and truck struck bicycle from the side, whether plaintiff was contributorily negligent in riding on bicycle knowing that it was not equipped with lights in violation of this section was a question for jury which could reasonably conclude that lack of lights on bicycle did not constitute a proximate cause of accident. Farole v. Eichman (1952) 39 Cal.2d 822, 249 P.2d 261.

FAILURE TO HAVE LIGHT ON FRONT WHEN STRUCK FROM BEHIND

The fact that bicycle, equipped with red reflector, visible for 200 feet, on rear, had no headlight, was immaterial on question of rider's contributory negligence in his action for injuries sustained when bicycle was struck in rear by defendants' automobile, as absence of headlight did not proximately contribute to accident. Flynn v. Kumamoto (App. 3 Dist. 1937) 22 Cal.App.2d 607, 72 P.2d 248.

ELECTRIC AND MOTORIZED BICYCLES

Cal. Veh. Code § 24016. Motorized bicycles; manufacturing and operating criteria; tampering

a) A motorized bicycle described in subdivision (b) of Section 406 shall meet the following criteria: (1) Comply with the equipment and manufacturing requirements for bicycles adopted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (16 C.F.R. 1512.1, et seq.) or the requirements adopted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (49 C.F.R. 571.1, et seq.) in accordance with the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 (15 U.S.C. Sec. 1381, et seq.) for motor driven cycles.

(2) Operate in a manner so that the electric motor is disengaged or ceases to function when the brakes are applied, or operate in a manner such that the motor is engaged through a switch or mechanism that, when released, will cause the electric motor to disengage or cease to function.

(b) All of the following apply to a motorized bicycle described in subdivision (b) of Section 406:

(1) No person shall operate a motorized bicycle unless the person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet that meets the standards described in Section 21212.

(2) A person operating a motorized bicycle is subject to Sections 21200 and 21200.5.

(3) A person operating a motorized bicycle is not subject to the provisions of this code relating to financial responsibility, driver's licenses, registration, and license plate requirements, and a motorized bicycle is not a motor vehicle.

(4) A motorized bicycle shall only be operated by a person 16 years of age or older.

(5) Every manufacturer of a motorized bicycle shall certify that it complies with the equipment and manufacturing requirements for bicycles adopted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (16 C.F.R. 1512.1, et seq.).

(c) No person shall tamper with or modify a motorized bicycle described in subdivision (b) of Section 406 so as to increase the speed capability of the bicycle.

HELMET REQUIREMENTS

BICYCLES

Cal. Veh. Code § 21212. Bicycle helmets required for persons under 18 to operate a bicycle, nonmotorized scooter, skateboard, or in-line or roller skates; passenger requirements; helmet conformity to safety standards; sales of helmet; violations; allocation of fines collected

(a) A person under 18 years of age shall not operate a bicycle, a nonmotorized scooter, or a skateboard, nor shall they wear in- line or roller skates, nor ride upon a bicycle, a nonmotorized scooter, or a skateboard as a passenger, upon a street, bikeway, as defined in Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, or any other public bicycle path or trail unless that person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet that meets the standards of either the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), or standards subsequently established by those entities. This requirement also applies to a person who rides upon a bicycle while in a restraining seat that is attached to the bicycle or in a trailer towed by the bicycle.

SEATING POSITION OF RIDERS- CHILD SEATS

Cal. Veh. Code § 21204. Seating of persons riding bicycle

(a) No person operating a bicycle upon a highway shall ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached thereto.

(b) No operator shall allow a person riding as a passenger, and no person shall ride as a passenger, on a bicycle upon a highway other than upon or astride a separate seat attached thereto. If the passenger is four years of age or younger, or weighs 40 pounds or less, the seat shall have adequate provision for retaining the passenger in place and for protecting the passenger from the moving parts of the bicycle.

BIKE LANES

RESTRICTIONS ON AUTO MOVEMENT IN BIKE LANES

Cal. Veh. Code § 21209. Motor vehicles and motorized bicycles in bicycle lanes

(a) No person shall drive a motor vehicle in a bicycle lane established on a roadway pursuant to Section 21207 except as follows: (1) To park where parking is permitted. (2) To enter or leave the roadway. (3) To prepare for a turn within a distance of 200 feet from the intersection. (b) This section does not prohibit the use of a motorized bicycle in a bicycle lane, pursuant to Section 21207.5, at a speed no greater than is reasonable or prudent, having due regard for visibility, traffic conditions, and the condition of the roadway surface of the bicycle lane, and in a manner which does not endanger the safety of bicyclists.

Cal. Veh. Code § 21717. Turning across bicycle lanes

Whenever it is necessary for the driver of a motor vehicle to cross a bicycle lane that is adjacent to his lane of travel to make a turn, the driver shall drive the motor vehicle into the bicycle lane prior to making the turn and shall make the turn pursuant to Section 22100.

BICYCLIST OBLIGATIONS WHERE BIKE LANES EXIST

Cal. Veh. Code § 21208. Permitted movements from bicycle lanes

(a) Whenever a bicycle lane has been established on a roadway pursuant to Section 21207, any person operating a bicycle upon the roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride within the bicycle lane, except that the person may move out of the lane under any of the following situations:

(1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle, vehicle, or pedestrian within the lane or about to enter the lane if the 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 reasonably necessary to leave the bicycle lane to avoid debris or other hazardous conditions.

(4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

(b) No person operating a bicycle shall leave a bicycle lane until the movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after giving an appropriate signal in the manner provided in Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 22100) in the event that any vehicle may be affected by the movement.

OPENING DOORS

Cal. Veh. Code § 22517. Opening and closing doors

No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of such traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.

ASSUMPTION OF RISK IN BICYCLE COMPETITIONS AND ORGANIZED RIDES

Bicycle riding: A participant in an organized, long-distance bicycle ride assumes the inherent risk of injury from other cyclists' ordinary negligence ... as may occur when a cyclist riding alongside swerves into and unintentionally collides with the participant. [Moser v. Ratinoff (2003) 105 CA4th 1211, 1220–1223, 130 CR2d 198, 204–206]

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