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Bicycle Accident Laws

Essential Bicycle Laws And Requirements

Bicycling is a very enjoyable and popular form of transportation in California, and especially in the Los Angeles area. The state of California offers a variety of protections for its many devoted bicyclists to safely enjoy themselves while riding under the bright blue skies and the abundant sunshine that we all know and love.  

However, with great pleasure comes great responsibility. With your safety and well being in mind, we’ve compiled the most important bicycle laws you must know about as a bicyclist in California. We’ve also included resources to assist you in the unfortunate event of a cycling accident.

How Do I Properly Equip My Bicycle?

Handlebars: Handlebars cannot not be any higher than a bicyclist’s shoulders.

Brakes: All bicycles must be equipped with brakes that allow a cyclist to stop by executing a one braked wheel skid on dry and level pavement.

Bicycle size: Bikes need to be small enough for a cyclist to stop, support the bike with one foot on the ground, and then start again safely.

Lights: A white light must be attached to the front of the bike and must be visible from the front when riding after dark.

Seats: All bicycles are required to have a permanent, regular seat. The only exception is for bikes that are made to be ridden without one. Any bicycle passengers that weigh under forty pounds need a seat to retain them in place and protect them from any moving parts.


All bicycles must have the following reflectors when riding after dark:

  • A red reflector, visible from the back.
  • A white or yellow reflector on each bike pedal, visible from the front and back.
  • One white or yellow reflector on the front side of the bike, visible from the side; one red or white reflector on each side of the back half of the bike.

Where Can I Ride My Bike?

The general rule is that if you are moving as fast as the traffic around you, you are allowed to ride anywhere you want. You can still take the lane, so to speak, if you aren’t moving as fast as traffic, but you must ride your bike as close to the right side of the road as possible. There are a few exceptions to this rule:

  • When passing.
  • When preparing for a left turn.
  • To avoid any hazards
  • If a lane is too narrow to share
  • When approaching a place where right turns are authorized.

The Bike Lane: Bicyclists traveling slower than traffic must use any available bike lane except when passing, making left turns, to avoid a hazard, or when approaching a place where rights turn are authorized.

Sidewalks: Different cities and counties will determine whether a bicyclist may ride on the sidewalk.  

Freeways: Bicycles are not allowed on freeways or expressways.

Toll bridges: Bicycles are not allowed to cross a toll bridge unless permitted by the California Department of Transportation.

Safely Operating Your Bicycle

Helmets: All bicyclists and bicycle passengers under the age of 18 must always wear an approved helmet.

Cell Phones: Bicyclists are allowed to use a handheld cell phone when riding.

Headphones: Earplugs or headsets that cover both ears are not allowed. Hearing aids are allowed.

Hitching Rides: A bicyclist may not hitch a ride on a vehicle.

Cargo: A bicyclist is not allowed to hold onto items which restrict them from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars.

Pedestrians: A bicyclist must always yield the right of way to any pedestrians when riding in marked crosswalks or within unmarked crosswalks at all intersections.  

Alcohol and Drugs: A bicyclist is never allowed ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Parking: A bicyclist is not allowed to leave a bicycle on its side on any sidewalk and do not park a bicycle in a manner that obstructs the passage of pedestrians.

What To Do After A Bicycle Accident

It’s impossible to predict when a bicycling accident will occur, but it’s in your best interests to be prepared in the unfortunate event of an accident. To help protect you and increase the likelihood of achieving the best outcome in your bicycle injury case, our Los Angeles area bicycle accident lawyers have outlined Seven Steps To Take After A Bicycle Accident

Liability In Bicycle Accidents

In the event of a bicycle accident, you may have many questions about who is to blame and how to determine liability. The truth is that It’s entirely possible for either the bicyclist or the driver to be found responsible. Ultimately, it all depends on who failed to follow the rules of the road, which is another way of saying who was negligent.  

Below are four factors an experienced Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyer will consider when determining who is at fault after a bicycle accident:

Right of way: Whoever arrives at a stop sign first has the right of way. If a driver and a bicyclist arrive at a stop sign at the same time, the person on the right side will have right of way.

Bicycle lanes: Any vehicles driving in or blocking a bike lane can be found liable.

Failure to signal: If either a bicyclist or the driver failed to signal, he or she could be found liable in a bicycle accident.

Failure to use appropriate lighting at night: The law says that both drivers and bicyclists are required to use appropriate lighting when driving or riding at night in order to reduce the risk of an accident.

Were You Hit By An Uninsured or Underinsured Driver?

Please visit our page Bicycling Accident With An Uninsured Driver.

Our Team is Here to Help

If your or a loved one was injured in a bicycle accident, contact an experienced Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyer at West Coast Trial Lawyers today. Our attorneys will get you maximum compensation for medical care and damages. Consultations are always free, and you only pay when we get you compensation for your injuries. You can reach our friendly staff today by emailing us at or by calling toll free at (213) 927-3700.


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