Do Bicyclists Have to Stay in the Bike Lane in California?

According to the California Vehicle Code (CVC) §21208, cyclists are required to ride in designated bicycle lanes when traveling slower than the average speed of traffic, with some exceptions. Bicyclists are also required to travel in the same direction of traffic at all times, preferably by the right-hand curb.

There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule. For example, CVC §21206 allows local governments to decide the legality of riding on sidewalks. If you feel more comfortable riding on a sidewalk, please check your local government’s laws on this issue.

Vehicles turning right also merge into the curb lane and bicycles overtake vehicles on the left (CVC 21717 and CVC 22100).

CVC §21208 a-1 allows cyclists to move out of the bike-only lane if they can safely pass a cyclist ahead of them traveling at slower speed. You can also move out of a bike lane if you want to make a left or right hand turn so long as it is safe and legal to do so. Lastly, according to CVC §21208 a-3, cyclists can move out of a cyclist lane if they are trying to avoid dangerous debris or “hazardous conditions” like construction.

Don’t Forget Safety When Changing Lanes

Please always keep in mind that CVC §21208 b requires cyclists to make appropriate signals with other motorists before taking any drastic action to get in or out of the bike lane. It’s also important to yield to pedestrians walking on marked crosswalks or unmarked crosswalks at intersections. Indeed, it’s especially important to remain vigilant at intersections since most vehicular-cyclist accidents happen here.

Bay Area Bicycle Law

Representing clients in San Francisco, the Bay Area, Oakland and everywhere in northern California, Bay Area Bicycle Law is the only personal injury law firm to specialize exclusively in representing cyclists.
Our attorneys have extensive experience working on bicycle crash cases. By devoting our careers to this niche, we can guarantee the superior service required to win your case. If you or a loved one has been involved a bicycle crash anywhere in California, contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.

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