Are Traffic Laws the Same for Bicycles and Cars?

November 17, 2022

There are many benefits to riding a bicycle on the road. You can get ahead of traffic, for one, and parking doesn’t have to be as hard and expensive. However, what tends to make this experience less enjoyable is when there are misunderstandings about the laws regarding bicycles.

Motorists and bicyclists alike think there is a difference in the traffic laws they should follow. However, they should follow the same rules. Bicycles, for one, should still stay on the road and flow with the general traffic, instead of going on sidewalks. There should be a dedicated bike lane for them, ideally, to keep them safe, since bike riders are a lot more vulnerable to injuries in case of an accident. 

Bike Laws

Bike laws may vary according to state, but nonetheless, there are overarching rules that are recognized across the board.

Ideally, bikers should stay on the bike lane or on the road, and not go on the sidewalk. They may park on the sidewalk, as long as it doesn’t hinder any pedestrians. Cyclists are also required to wear a helmet at all times. For night rides, they should be properly equipped with reflectors and white headlights. 

On the road, only a maximum of two bicycles are allowed to run side by side. When turning corners, switching lanes, or passing vehicles or other bikers, they are expected to use proper signaling techniques to alert those around them. 

California Bike Laws

According to California state laws, bikes are allowed in traffic lanes as long as they follow the same road rules as cars. Ideally, however, cyclists should ride on the rightmost side of the street as much as possible for their own safety. Some streets would have parking spaces, so the next lane available to that should be theirs if no bike lane is explicitly marked or assigned. 

Unlike other states, California has no specific laws regarding biking on the sidewalk. For everyone’s safety, it should be avoided, but if it’s not possible, then the cyclist should at least take great care in not causing an accident or injury to pedestrians. 

The most important thing that bicyclists should note is that although bikes are not classified as vehicles in California, bike riders are afforded the same rights and duties as vehicle drivers.

This means that the procedures following a car accident (exchanging information, filing a police report as needed, claiming for insurance, etc.) will more or less be the same. 

Talk to a Lawyer

It’s best to talk to a lawyer in case you find yourself involved in a traffic accident or issue, whether as a bicyclist or a motorist. Get the legal assistance you need when you need it.


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