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Although bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other motor vehicle drivers, there are certain specific rules that exist only for bicycle riders in California. Some of these rules and laws are quite fascinating, and many Californians are not aware of some of them.

Knowing these rules could potentially save your life, regardless of whether you are a bicyclist, pedestrian, or other motor vehicle driver in San Francisco, San Mateo, and elsewhere in California. For example, did you know that bicyclists in California are not permitted by law to wear headphones while operating a bike?

Or did you know that bicyclists are not allowed to stop on or park a bicycle on a bicycle path? Our San Francisco bicycle accident attorney from the Allegiance Law is going to review these and many more facts about California’s bicycle laws in a bit.

How your bicycle must be equipped

Under California law, there are certain rules that exist for equipping your bicycle.

  • Brakes. Your bike must be equipped with a brake that allows you to execute a one-braked-wheel skid on dry, even, clean pavement.
  • Handlebars. Handlebars on your bike must not be positioned higher than your shoulders.
  • Size of the bicycle. Depending on the size of your body, the size of your bicycle must be small enough for you to be able to stop and support it with one foot on the ground. If you are not able to do it, it means your bike is too big for your size.
  • Reflectors. Your bike must be equipped with the following reflectors at night:
      1. a red reflector visible from the back,
      2. a white or yellow reflector on each pedal or your shoes or ankles visible from the front and back, or
      3. a white or yellow reflector on the front half of the bicycle (or a red or white reflector on each side of the back half of the bike) visible from the side.

How you must operate your bicycle in California

Our experienced bicycle accident attorney in San Francisco says that it is even more fascinating how California laws regulate operating a bike in the state.

  • Headphones. You are not allowed to wear earplugs or headset covering both ears while riding a bike. Hearing aids, meanwhile, are permitted by law.
  • Helmets. A bicyclist or bicycle passenger under 18 must wear a helmet that complies with all federal and state safety standards.
  • Cell phones. Bicycle riders are allowed to use a handheld cellphone while riding, even though most people believe that the use of a phone by a bicyclist is illegal.
  • Hitching rides. Bicyclists are not permitted to hitch rides on vehicles.
  • Items. As a bicycle rider in California, you are not allowed to carry items on your bike if they prevent at least one of your hands from being placed on the handlebars.
  • Parking. A bicycle rider in California is not allowed to leave his or her bicycle on their side of the sidewalk or park a bicycle in a way that obstructs pedestrians or other motor vehicle drivers.
  • Bike path. Bicyclists are not permitted to stop on or park bicycles on a bicycle path.
  • Other bikes. Mopeds and high-speed electric bikes are not viewed as regular bikes under California law. Therefore, these bikes cannot be used on trails or bike paths or lanes unless allowed by local authorities.

Consult with our San Francisco bicycle accident attorney from the Allegiance Law if you have any questions. There are many more laws and rules that exist for bicyclists in California. Contact our law firm by calling at 415-404-6395 or complete this contact form for a free case evaluation.

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