6 San Diego Bike Laws You Should Know

person sitting on bike

San Diego’s warm climate and beautiful weather make it an ideal spot to ride a bicycle. While biking has always been popular in the city, there has been a significant increase in bicycle traffic in recent years. While the city is taking some steps to make its roads bicycle-friendly, bicycle accidents have been on the rise. Many of these accidents occur because motorists and riders, alike, aren’t familiar with California bike laws.

Here are 6 of the most important bicycle laws you need to know in San Diego. Understanding the law, whether you drive a car or ride a bike, can help to keep you safe.

One: Bicyclists Must Use Dedicated Bike Lanes

California law requires that bicyclists use lined and/or dedicated bike lanes whenever possible. If you are riding on a road that has a bike lane, you must use it. Exceptions can be made if you need to:

  • Make a left-hand or right-hand turn
  • Pass slower-moving bicyclist in the lane, or
  • Avoid hazards or debris in the lane.

You are only permitted to leave a bike lane when it can be done with reasonable safety and you have signaled your intent to enter traffic. [CA Vehicle Code 21208]

Two: Bicyclists Must Ride With the Flow of Traffic

When you ride a bicycle in San Diego you must be on the right side of the road and travel with the flow of traffic. Exceptions can be made if you:

  • Are riding on a one-way street
  • Need to make a left-hand or right-hand turn
  • Must avoid a hazard, or
  • Cannot navigate safely down a narrow road.

You must signal your intent to ride against the flow of traffic, and can only do so once you have determined that it is safe.  [CA Vehicle Code 21650]

Three: Bicyclists Must Obey Traffic Signals and Laws

Since bicycles are actually vehicles, riders have an obligation to obey all traffic signals and laws. This means that you must stop at all stop signs and red traffic signals, yield to oncoming traffic, and use turn signals. Bicyclists also have an obligation to refrain from drug or alcohol use. Unfortunately, many bicyclists do not obey local traffic laws. The most frequent violation is riding a bike across an intersection against a red light. Bicyclists can only cross at an intersection when (a) the light is green or (b) they opt to walk the bicycle while pedestrians have the right of way. [CA Vehicle Code 21200]

Four: Pedestrians Have the Right of Way

Bicyclists are vehicles and subject to the rules of the road. Unfortunately, many bicyclists view themselves as pedestrians. This can be dangerous when bicyclists and pedestrians meet at an intersection. Bicyclists must know that pedestrians have the right of way. If a pedestrian is crossing with a light or in a marked crosswalk, all other traffic must yield. [CA Vehicle Code 21954]

Five: Bicyclists Must Use Proper Reflectors and Lights

Too many bicyclists in San Diego do not have the proper safety gear installed on their bikes. Bicycles can be incredibly difficult to see, especially after dark. At the very least, bicyclists must have the following reflectors and lights installed on their bikes:

  • Rear: Solid or flashing red; visible from the rear at a distance of 500 feet.
  • Pedals: White or yellow reflectors visible on the pedals or rider’s foot at a distance of 200 feet.
  • Front & Rear Sides: White or yellow reflectors visible on the front and rear sides of the bike, unless the bike is equipped with reflective tires.
  • Front: White light attached to the front of the bike or the rider’s helmet, visible from the front at a distance of 300 feet. [CA Vehicle Code 21201]

Six: Bicycles Must Have a Fixed Seat

Did you know that riding a bike without a seat is against the law in San Diego? That is, unless the bike is over 40 pounds and specifically designed to be ridden without one. Your bicycle seat must be fixed, regular, and permanent. [CA Vehicle Code 21204]

Injury Trial Lawyers, APC
1230 Columbia Street, Suite 560
San Diego, CA 92101

Are you struggling with a bicycle accident injury? Do you need help understanding your rights after a crash? Contact Injury Trial Lawyers for help today.