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When Do Bicyclists Have the Right-of-Way in California?

Bicycle Right of Way

Bicyclists in California are often encouraged to share the road with motorists. A key part of sharing the road safely and stopping bicycle-car accidents is understanding the right-of-way and who has or doesn’t have it. In simple terms, the person who does not have the right-of-way is expected to yield to another vehicle on the road. Although, all parties on the road should yield the right-of-way if that would stop an accident, regardless of who technically had it.

California Vehicle Code 21200 and its subsections describe most laws about interactions between bicycles and cars on the state’s roads. Knowing about these codes can help inform you about right-of-way, so you can make the right decision whenever you are driving or riding.

Important codes, rules, regulations, and expectations for cyclists in California:

  • Bicyclists should always ride on the right side of a lane when it is practical and safe.
  • When passing, turning left or right, or riding along a narrow lane, bicyclists can ride in the center of a lane.
  • Designated bicycle lanes should be used whenever possible to separate bicycle traffic from vehicle traffic. Bicycle lane use is mandatory when a bicyclist is traveling slower than adjacent traffic.
  • Traveling at the same speed as motor vehicle traffic allows a bicyclist to use any lane, even if there is a designated bicycle lane.
  • Bicyclists must ride with the flow of traffic.
  • Riding a bicycle on a freeway is strictly prohibited in most situations, not to mention that it is incredibly dangerous.

Of special note, the legality of riding on the sidewalk is not based on a statewide mandate. Instead, counties and cities can decide their own local rules for when a bicyclist can ride on the sidewalk and how they must ride if they can. Before you ride on the sidewalk, check local law to ensure you are not breaking the law and possibly putting a pedestrian in danger.

If you’re in a bicycle accident or car accident with a bicyclist, and you were driving in Glendale, Santa Clarita, or anywhere in between, then the Law Offices of Wax & Wax want to hear from you. Our attorneys can help you understand your legal options, as well as your potential liability and recovery amount based on who had the right-of-way at the time of the crash. Contact us now to arrange a free consultation.