Bicyclist Rights (CVC 21200)
Bicyclists have all the rights and responsibilities of vehicle drivers.
Alcohol and Drugs (CVC 21200.5)
It is against the law to ride a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Equipment (CVC 21201 and 21204)
Bicycles must be equipped with at least a brake which allows operators to execute to a wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement. Handlebars must not be higher than the rider’s shoulders. Bicycles must be small enough for the rider to stop, support it with one foot on the ground, and restart safely. At night, bicycles must be equipped with a white headlight or white light attached to the rider and visible from the front. Bicycles must also have a rear red reflector and white or yellow pedal reflectors. There must be a white or yellow reflector on the front of the bicycle visible from the side, and a red or white reflector on the rear of the bicycle visible from the side. All riders must have a permanent, regular seat. Bicycle passengers less than 40 lbs. must have a seat which retains them in place and protects them from moving parts.
Use of the Roadway (CVC 21202)
Bicycles traveling slower than the normal speed of traffic must ride as close to the right side of the road as practicable except: when passing, preparing for a left turn, to avoid hazards and dangerous conditions or if the lane is too narrow.
Bicycle Path Crossing (CVC 231.6)
A “bicycle path crossing” is the prolongation or connection of the boundary lines of a bike path where the intersecting roadways meet at approximately right angles. Or any portion of a roadway distinctly indicated for bicycle crossing by lines or other markings on the street surface.
Hitching Rides (CVC 21203)
Bicyclists may not hitch rides on vehicles.
Carrying Articles (CVC 21205)
Bicyclists may not carry items which keep them from using at least one hand upon the handlebars.
Motorized Bicycles (CVC 21207.5)
Motorized bicycles may not be used on bike paths or trails, bike lanes, or other bikeways.
Bicycle Lane Use (CVC 21208)
Bicyclists traveling slower than traffic must use bike lanes except when making a left turn, passing, or avoiding hazardous conditions.
Obstruction of Pedestrians (CVC 21210)
Bicyclists may not leave bicycles on their sides on the sidewalk or park bicycles in a manner which obstructs pedestrians.
Bikeway Obstruction (CVC 21211)
No one may stop on or park a bicycle on a bicycle path.
Helmets (CVC 21212)
Bicyclists and passengers under age 18 must wear an approved helmet when on a bicycle.
Direction of Travel (CVC 21650)
Bicyclists must travel on the right side of the roadway in the direction of traffic.
3-Feet for Safety Act (CVC 21760)
When passing a bicyclist, drivers of motor vehicles must provide bicyclists with a three feet buffer between their motor vehicle and the bicyclist. If roadway conditions do not allow for a three feet buffer, the driver must slow down when passing a bicyclist.
Toll Bridges (CVC 23330)
Bicyclists may not cross a toll bridge unless permitted by signs.
Head Phones (CVC 27400)
Bicyclists may not wear earplugs in both ears or a headset covering both ears, except hearing aids.
Specific City of Los Angeles Municipal Codes (LAMC)
Off-Street Automobile Parking Requirements (LAMC 12.21 A.4)
Provides for a proportion of automobile parking requirements for qualifying residential and nonresidential projects or buildings be replaced with bicycle parking.
Bicycle Parking and Shower Facilities (LAMC 12.21 A.16)
Establishes minimum short- and long-term bicycle parking requirements for new residential and nonresidential developments and additions that increase the floor area of a building. Defines types of short- and long-term bicycle parking as well as describes bicycle parking design standards, siting requirements. and additional requirements and allowances.
Sidewalk Riding (LAMC 56.15)
Prohibits the riding of bicycles (or other human power devices) on sidewalks (bikeways or boardwalks) with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. Disallows the riding of bicycles on Ocean Front Walk in Venice.
Bicyclist Anti-harassment (LAMC 45.96.02)
Prohibits physical assault, threats, and intentional distractions against people riding bicycles.
Bicycle Defined (LAMC 26.01a)
Any device upon which a person may ride which is propelled in whole or in part by human power through a system of belts, chains, or gears and which has either two or three wheels…
Riding Bicycles in Los Angeles and Beyond
With all of these laws about riding bicycles in and around California, and in the Los Angeles Metropolitan area specifically, how is cycling supposed to be an enjoyable activity? The truth is that most of the time, bicycle riders are not cited for violations of applicable code (State or municipal) unless something else happens first, such as that rider getting hit by a car, or that rider hitting a walking pedestrian. The reason is that it is just too difficult to be clear as to what the applicable laws are for one city versus the next, and you may inadvertently ride from one city, through many others where the applicable laws change. Some municipalities prohibit bicycling on the sidewalk in defined “business districts.” Some require bicyclists to travel in the same direction as traffic in the adjacent lane. Some prohibit sidewalk-riding outright. Which one applies when? Depends on what jurisdiction you are in. Burbank? San Fernando? Santa Monica? Malibu? Then you also have to deal with the governing standard. For example, within the City of Los Angeles, bicycling on a sidewalk is permitted as long as you do not show “willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” This means riding at a cautious speed, yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians, and watching for storefront doors opening onto the sidewalk. But when does your riding cross that line and become a violation of applicable law? What is that standard? Unfortunately, many times, it simply becomes a case-by-case basis, where a violation of the law is determined simply by resorting to the smell test – meaning that if it seems bad, then it probably is bad.
How does that affect the bicycle rider in his or her claim for bodily injury compensation and/or property damage to his/her bicycle? Well, after a bicycle v. auto accident, where a car collides with a rider on a bicycle, liability has to be determined to see who is at fault, and who is responsible for the ensuing damages – both to property and to the individuals involved. The vast majority of the time, the rider of the bicycle has sustained the greatest amount of bodily injury. Nevertheless, if that rider was cited for being in violation of bicycle laws, such as not riding with a helmet, not having reflective markings on their clothing, or maybe riding against traffic, then there will surely be an attempt by the driver’s insurance company to put the blame on the bicycle rider. Even in a scenario where there is fault on the part of the driver of the vehicle, they will most likely attribute some fault to the rider of the bicycle as well, which will reduce or prevent compensation from being obtained later on. So what should you do as a bicycle rider after an accident with a vehicle? Hire a lawyer, sooner rather than later. You won’t want to make any statements about the accident to anyone (other than medical providers, and even then never admitting fault or talking about causation) until after you retain counsel.
At Venerable Injury Law, we have had many experiences explaining why a bicycle rider may have been in violation of the complex system of applicable bicycle laws immediately prior to an accident. We have time and time again fought back against insurance companies trying to place blame on our rider/client simply because they failed to comply with the confusing and intricate overlapping layers of state and municipal bicycle ordinance. One such recent case involved a client who was struck by a vehicle while riding her bicycle on the wrong side of the road. She was initially denied any recovery by the insurance company due to a number of citations issued by police officers arriving on the scene, including failure to wear proper PPE (personal protective equipment), riding on the wrong side of the road, and riding on the sidewalk. Thereafter, the insurance investigator alleged based on his review of social media sources that the client was not injured and that she was in violation of applicable regulations regarding use of a bicycle on the highway. After filing suit and crafting a compelling explanation as to the client's fitness lifestyle and chain of events leading up to the accident itself, our team was able to expertly pick apart the insurance defense counsel’s case against our client at deposition. This resulted in the insurance company tendering the policy maximum to settle the case — even though the insurance company had been adamant that they were not going to pay our client anything and our client was even previously considering dropping her entire claim/case against them! By crafting a story to show the client's credibility, the insurance company had no choice but to give in to Venerable’s winning reputation!