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Bicycling Rules in Los Angeles

18303842_sBicyclists and motorist have ideas about what is legal or illegal for cyclists to do.  Usually the ideas are based on folklore or something some guy told you.  With the warmer weather, the addition of bike lanes and the move to a greener city, knowing the real law is important to bicyclists and motorists alike.

Where can you ride bikes?

Cyclists have the right to ride on the street in the same direction as traffic, except bridges and freeways as marked.  You need to keep to the bike lane as available or the right of the road.  The rules about riding on the sidewalk vary from city to city in Los Angeles County. In Los Angeles city, it is against the law to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk unless specifically marked (LAMC 15.76.080). For California Bicycle Rules and Laws go here.

Do the posted traffic signs apply to bicyclists?

Yes. Bike riders must obey all posted traffic signs.  This includes stopping at stop signs and red lights.

Where should I ride my bike on the road?

Bicyclists should stay to the right as much as practical, but can take the whole lane if they must. If the road is too narrow for cars and 5 stack up behind you, you must pull over safely and let them pass.

How do cyclists make left turns?

A bicyclist makes a left turn the same as car. That is, they signal the move then move to the center and make a left turn when safe. A bicyclist can also move left or right to avoid a turning vehicle or other traffic hazard as necessary.

What equipment do I need to ride a bike safely?

Bike riders under 18 need to wear a helmet. All bikes must be equipped with at least one brake.  When riding at night you need reflectors and a white headlight.  You may not wear two earplugs or headphones that cover both ears while riding.

Can I ride a bike after I’ve consumed alcohol?

Yes. But the rules are the same for bicycling under the influence of alcohol or drugs as they are for driving a car.  Cops can stop you on reasonable suspicion and if they arrest you, you must take a chemical test. Refusal to take the test is treated the same as a refusal with a car driver. Biking under the influence can be punished by a $250 fine.

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