Bicycles & the Law

Bicycles and the Law

Codes, Laws, and Regulations for Bicyclists

This page is provided to help bicyclists understand how to ride safely and legally on public roads, parking, and on bikeways within the State of California and the City of Los Angeles. Please click on the links below to find the actual laws regarding bicycling.

  1. California Vehicle Code
  2. California Streets and Highway Code
  3. City of Los Angeles Municipal Code

For a quick review of the laws regarding Bicycling in California and the City, please see the California Vehicle Code and Los Angeles Municipal Code summary listed below.

Also see our blog posts on riding on L.A. County sidewalks.

California Vehicle Code Bicycle Reference Summary (please check vehicle code for actual reference)

  • 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 21202 and 21204) Bicycles must be equipped with at least a brake which allows operators to execute to a wheelskid 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 under 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.
  • 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 trails, bike path, or lanes.
  • 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 ANSI or Snell approved helmet when a passenger or riding upon a bicycle.
  • Direction of Travel (CVC 21650) Bicyclist must travel on the right side of the roadway in the direction of traffic.
  • Freeways (CVC 21960) Bicyclists may not ride on the freeways where prohibited.
  • 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.

City of Los Angeles Code References Applicable to 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...”
  • Bicycle Licenses Required (LAMC 26.01) Ordinance repealed on June 2, 2009. Bicycle licenses are no longer required in the City of Los Angeles. Please carry identification when riding a bicycle and be sure children have identification as well in the form of an identification bracelet, sticker in their helmet, or bicycle registration with a private firm. In addition there are various ways of identifying your bicycle in the event it is stolen, photos and making a note of the serial number as well as including an identifier in the seat tube of the bicycle.
  • Off-Street Parking and Shower Requirement (LAMC 12.221A16) Provides for the inclusion of bicycle parking and employee showers in the new buildings 10,000 square feet or more.
  • 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.
  • Sale of Bicycles (LAMC 80,75) Prohibits the sale or rental of bicycles from any public or private property which is not the place of business of a duly licensed bicycle dealer. Update: Section 80.75: Sale of Vehicles or Bicycles - Where Prohibited, has been Repealed by Ord No. 173,945.