Important Bike Safety Laws in California

bike safety laws

Riding a bicycle is a great alternative to driving a car, whether you use it as a means of transportation or for exercise. Unfortunately unlike a car, bikes don’t offer much protection if you were to get into an accident. When riding a bike it is important to be prepared for anything. As a bicyclist it is essential to have the right bike safety gear, and know what to do if you’re involved in a bicycle accident. Bike accidents are common, especially in California. According to the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were 14,026 injuries and fatalities associated with bike accidents in 2012.

Bike Safety Laws

Much like motorists, cyclists are required to abide by bike laws. Some of the basic laws include riding on the correct side of the street with the flow of traffic, obeying general traffic laws, yielding to pedestrians, and more. As for equipment, cyclists in California are required to have:

  • Lights: white headlight and reflectors on the bike for riding at night
  • Helmets: helmet usage for riders under the age of 18 is required, but is also recommended for older riders
  • Good brakes: the bike should be equipped with a brake that can make a skid mark

Bike Safety Laws for Night Rides

When riding at night, making sure you have lights is essential. Not only is riding without lights at night dangerous, but also illegal. Your chance of being hit by a car at night increases significantly, without using recommended lights. The law, VC Section 21201 states:

  • A lamp or lamp combination that emits a white light. The light must be seen from a distance of 300 feet in front and on either side of the bicycle.
  • A red reflector on the back of the bike. This needs to be seen from a distance of 500 feet behind the bicycle.
  • A white or yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe, or ankle. This needs to be seen from a distance of 200 feet, and should be visible from the front and back of the bicycle.

Legal Help after a Bike Accident

If you or a loved one is injured in a bike accident, call 1-800-THE-LAW2. You will be connected with an experienced 1-800-THE-LAW2 bike accident lawyer who could help you get maximum compensation for your injuries and expenses. Its risk free, either you get paid or you don’t pay at all!


  1. California Department of Motor Vehicles. VC Section 21201 Equipment Requirements. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
  2. California Highway Patrol. Victims. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
  3. Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. California Bicycle Laws. Retrieved February 17, 2014.