California Cycling Laws

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 What Are the Cycling Laws of California?

California bike laws are the rules and regulations that govern the rights and responsibilities of bicyclists on public roads and paths.

Under California bicycle laws, cyclists must ride on the right side of the road in the direction of traffic, except when passing, making a left turn, avoiding hazards, or when the lane is too narrow to share with a motor vehicle. Bicyclists may also take the lane if approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

Bicyclists must use a bike lane if one is available unless they are making a left turn, passing, avoiding hazardous conditions, or approaching a place where a right turn is authorized. Bicyclists do not have to use a protected bike lane, which is separated from moving traffic by posts, car parking, or anything else.

Bicyclists are prohibited from riding on freeways, expressways, toll bridges, and some other roads where signs indicate that bicycles are not allowed.

A bicyclist must obey all traffic signs, signals, and laws that apply to motor vehicles. Bicyclists must also yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and other vehicles when required.

Bicyclists must equip their bikes with a brake that can make one wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement. Bicyclists must also have a white headlight, a red rear reflector, yellow or white pedal reflectors, and yellow or white side reflectors if riding at night or in low visibility conditions.

If a bicyclist is under 18 years old, they must wear a helmet that meets federal safety standards. Helmets are also required for riders of electric bikes that can go faster than 20 mph.

Bicyclists may ride side by side on a road or path if they do not impede traffic. Otherwise, they must ride single file.

Anything that prevents bicyclists from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars is not allowed. They may not attach themselves or their bikes to any other vehicle on the road. They may not wear earphones that cover both ears while riding. They may not ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Bicyclists may not stop or park their bikes on a bike path unless they leave enough space for other users to pass safely. They may not ride on sidewalks unless permitted by local authorities.

The same rights and responsibilities for bicyclists apply to motor vehicle drivers when involved in a crash or collision. They must stop at the scene, exchange information with the other parties, and report the incident to the police if there is injury, death, or property damage over $1,000. They may also seek compensation for their injuries and damages from the liable parties or their insurance companies.

These are some of the important cycling laws in California. You can also consult with a lawyer if you have any legal questions or issues related to bicycling in California.

Are Bicycles Required to Be Licensed?

No, bicycles are not required to be licensed in California. However, some cities or counties may have local ordinances that require bicycle registration or licensing for identification or theft prevention purposes. You should check with your local authorities before riding your bike in a new area.

What Is the Penalty for Not Wearing a Helmet?

The penalty for not wearing a helmet on a bike in CA depends on your age and the circumstances of the violation.

If you are under 18 years old, you are required by law to wear a helmet while riding a bike on any public road, bikeway, path, trail, or sidewalk. Failure to do so may result in a citation or fine of up to $25. The fine may be waived if you complete a bicycle safety course or show proof of helmet ownership within 120 days of the violation. The parent or legal guardian of the minor may also be liable for the fine.

If you are 18 years old or older, you are not required by law to wear a helmet while riding a bike in CA. However, wearing a helmet is strongly recommended for your safety and protection. If you are involved in a bicycle accident, and you are not wearing a helmet, you may be held partially responsible for your bicycle helmet injury or damages. This is true even if the other party was at fault, which may reduce your compensation or recovery from the liable party or their insurance company.

Therefore, it is advisable to always wear a helmet while riding a bike in CA, regardless of your age or where you ride. A helmet can prevent or reduce the risk of serious head injuries, which can be life-threatening or disabling. A helmet can also protect you from legal consequences, such as fines or liability.

Are There Consequences for Hitting a Pedestrian With No Injuries?

Hitting a pedestrian with no injuries in CA may still have legal consequences, depending on the circumstances of the accident.

If you hit a pedestrian while driving recklessly, you may face fines and even criminal charges in California.

If you fail to stop your vehicle after hitting a pedestrian, even if there is only property damage and no injuries, you may be charged with misdemeanor hit and run. This charge can result in up to six months in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, restitution for property damage, and two points on your driving record.

Being involved in a collision with a pedestrian, you would have a duty to exchange information with the other party and report the incident to the police if there is injury, death, or property damage over $1,000. Failure to do so may result in civil or criminal liability.

If you are found to be at fault for hitting a pedestrian while speeding in a school zone or breaking some other law, you may be liable for compensating the pedestrian for any damages they suffered. These include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, or emotional distress. The pedestrian may file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against you or your insurance company.

Say you are not at fault for hitting a pedestrian, but you are not wearing a seatbelt, or you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In that case, you may still be held partially responsible for your own injuries or damages. This may reduce your compensation or recovery from the other party or their insurance company.

Therefore, it is important to be careful and attentive when driving near pedestrians and to follow the traffic laws and rules of the road.

If you hit a pedestrian with no injuries in CA, you should:

  • Stay at the scene;
  • Call the police;
  • Exchange information;
  • Seek medical attention if needed; and
  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible.

You may also want to consult with a lawyer who can advise you on your legal rights and options.

Additional Regulations and Privileges for Bicycles

Bicycles in California are often granted certain privileges, such as the ability to use both bike lanes and regular traffic lanes, depending on the situation. Cyclists can also make left-hand turns as cars do, either from the left turn lane or a turn pocket.

They must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and must have a white headlamp, red rear reflector, and reflectors on both pedals when biking at night.

What Other Areas of the Law Concerns Bicycles?

Apart from the above, laws related to driving under the influence apply to bicyclists as well. A cyclist can be arrested for cycling under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There are also specific provisions under the CVC that cover bicycle theft, the sale of stolen bicycles, and tampering with bicycles.

Should I Seek Legal Help?

If you’ve been involved in a bicycle-related incident, whether it’s an accident, a CVC violation, or any other legal issue, it’s crucial to consult with a knowledgeable attorney. A California criminal lawyer can guide you through the legal complexities, ensuring your rights are upheld. Connect with the right attorney for your needs through LegalMatch.

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