Home Blog Bicycle Accident Knowing California’s Bike Laws

Knowing California’s Bike Laws

By Eugene Bruno on June 1, 2023

Bicycling is popular all over California, year-round in some areas. Whether you’re a serious bike commuter or a weekend cruiser, knowing California’s bike laws could keep you safer on the roads. California has improved legal protections for bikers, but the best protection for any biker is to be aware of your surroundings, and also be aware of the law.

Some Crucial Changes and Some Reminders of Existing Laws

A Bike is Not a Vehicle, but the Rules of the Road Still Apply (No Change)

Under California law, bikes are not considered vehicles, but they are governed by many of the same traffic laws. Bicycle riders have all of the same rights and responsibilities as drivers, but the specifics can be confusing. Knowing where you can and can’t ride, and when and how the rules of the road apply to you when riding your bike can help you stay safe this summer.

Ride on the Right (No Change)

Bikes must ride with the flow of traffic, that means in a designated bike lane or as close to the right side of the road as possible. However, bikes do have the right to move into another lane in certain situations, including passing a pedestrian or someone in traveling in the same direction, making a left turn, or avoiding hazardous road conditions.

Change Lanes to Pass Bikes (New Law)

The law for almost 10 years was that a driver was required to give bikes only three feet of space when passing. Now, that has changed to require a driver to change lanes, when possible, to provide even more space and safety. Remember, a driver only has to change lanes if, in fact, there are two lanes and the other lane is open. If not, then the driver should slow down and pass safely.

E-bikes are Not Allowed Everywhere (No Change)

E-bikes are complicated. You have to know what kind of e-bike you’re riding and where. Some municipalities have restrictions on where you can ride an e-bike. opens most bikeways to e-bikes. This graphic from SD Bike Coalition breaks down where you can and can’t ride, but remember, these areas are always off-limits:

    • On the public walkway on Ocean Front Walk in Mission Beach, beginning at the South Mission Beach Jetty northward to the terminus of the public walkway at Ocean Boulevard at Law Street in Pacific Beach;
    • On the public walkway on the west side of Mission Bay Park from San Diego Place (adjacent to the South Mission Beach Jetty) to Corona Oriente Road (terminus of Crown Point Park), known as Bayside Walk;
    • On the public walkway on the east side of Mission Bay Park from De Anza Road southward to the South Shores Boat Launch and Park; and
  • On the boardwalk from Avenida De La Playa (adjacent to La Jolla Shores) north to the terminus of Kellogg Park at its northeast corner.

Bikes Can Use the Crosswalk on Walk Signals (New Law)

Crosswalks are for pedestrians. However, it is safer for cyclists to cross an intersection in the crosswalk during the pedestrian walk signal if it differs from the green light for cars.

No more bicycle licensing ordinances (New Law)

Some cities (but not the City of San Diego) require people to register their bikes. These laws were rarely enforced, but sometimes selectively used as a way to harass people of color on bikes. Cities may no longer enforce bicycle licensing requirements.

These changes represent a significant step forward in prioritizing the safety and accessibility of cyclists. They not only extend the protection currently given to cyclists but also encourages more individuals to embrace cycling, contributing to a greener San Diego with less traffic and a healthier future for all of us.

We Help Injured Bikers in San Diego

If you or a loved one have been involved in a bike accident, reach out to a San Diego bicycle accident attorney at Bruno & Associates today to explore your legal options. It’s crucial to recognize that bicyclists possess equal rights to other vehicles on the road, yet unfortunately, they often face blame in traffic collisions. Stay informed about your rights! Call Eugene Bruno & Associates at (619) 209-6066 for a free case evaluation.

Posted in: Bicycle Accident