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Bicycle Law of the Day: CVC 21208 Permitted Movement from Bicycle Lane

The California Vehicle Code allows bicycles to leave the bicycle lane in several circumstances, including, but not limited to (1) when overtaking and passing another bicycle, vehicle, or pedestrian, (2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway, and (3) to avoid debris or other hazardous conditions. (CVC 21208).

However, a cyclist leaving the bicycle under any of these circumstances must nevertheless only do so if the movement can be made with reasonable safety.  In addition, the cyclist must first signal their intention to turn if any other vehicle would be affected by the turn (and CVC 22108 requires a cyclist to signal for 100 feet before moving out of the bicycle lane).

Violations of any of these laws expose the cyclist to civil liability and civil penalties. Thus, in order to be fully compliant with the law, a cyclist should look far enough ahead to spot potential hazards early enough to give a signal for 100 feet and be able to leave the bicycle lane with “reasonable safety.”