Safety Starts with the Rules

What Everyone Should Know About Riding a Bike in LA County

View and download a copy of the Bike Smart Rules of the Road pocket guide in English or Spanish.


Safety starts with the rules. This is a summary of select California Vehicle Codes (CVC) for bicycling. For the full text of each vehicle code, reference the CVC number (in blue) when searching online. Click on the vehicle code to view on the DMV website.

Rules for riding on the sidewalk vary from city to city. For an alphabetical list of cities in L.A. County, click here.


Ride on the Street – You have a right to ride on the street. You are NOT required to ride on the sidewalk. CVC 21200 Exception: Freeways and some bridges may have signs posted forbidding bicyclists.

Obey All Signs, Street Markings, and Signals – Bicycle riders must obey the same rules as vehicle drivers. This includes stopping at red lights and stop signs. CVC 21200



Avoid Riding on Sidewalks – Each city in California has its own rules about riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. Some cities allow sidewalk riding, some don’t. Check with your city’s municipal code. CVC 21206

For an alphabetical list of cities in L.A. County, click here.

Yield to Pedestrians – Pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks (marked or unmarked) and on sidewalks. Bicyclists are also required to “exercise due care” for the safety of pedestrians in the roadway who are not in a crosswalk. CVC 21950, CVC 21952, CVC 21954


Ride to the Right, But Within Limits – When riding slower than the normal speed of traffic, you are required to ride as far right as “practicable” (meaning safe). You are not required to ride as far right as possible, which may not be safe. You are allowed, but not required, to ride on the shoulder. CVC 21202, CVC 21650, CVC 21650.1

Take the Lane – If a travel lane is too narrow to safely share side by side with a motor vehicle, you can prevent unsafe passing by riding near the center of the lane. On two-lane roads where it’s illegal or unsafe to pass, you must turn off the roadway at a designated or safe location to allow a line of 5 or more vehicles behind you to pass. CVC 21202 (a)(3), CVC 21656



Ride With Traffic, Not Against It – You must ride on the right half of the roadway, with the flow of traffic. CVC 21650
Exception: you can ride on either the left or right side of one-way streets.

Look and Yield Before You Go – You must yield to traffic before entering the roadway. CVC 21804

Ride Outside the Door Zone – It’s the responsibility of motor vehicle drivers to make sure it’s clear before opening a door. Despite this, a practical guide is to ride at least 3 feet from parked cars. CVC 22517



Pass Motor Vehicles and Other Bicycles on the Left – You can move left when passing a vehicle or another bicycle traveling in the same direction. CVC 21202 (a)(1)

You Can Turn Left Like a Car – You can turn left from the left turn lane. You cannot turn left from the right side of the roadway. CVC 21202 (a)(2) CVC 22100, CVC 22107

Move Left to Avoid Hazards – You can move left to avoid hazards like fixed or moving objects, bad surface conditions, animals, glass, etc. CVC 21202 (a)(3)

Move Left to Avoid Intersection Conflicts – You can move left wherever a right or left turning vehicle might cross your path. CVC 21202 (a)(4)



Signal and yield when moving left or right – Use hand signals to indicate when you are turning, changing lanes, or stopping. Move left or right only when it’s clear to do so. CVC 22107, CVC 22111

Use the Bike Lane, But Leave It When Needed – When riding slower than the normal speed of traffic, you must ride in the bike lane in the same direction as adjacent traffic. You can leave the bike lane to pass another bicyclist or a vehicle in the lane, to turn left, to avoid debris or hazards, or where a right-turning vehicle might cut you off. CVC 21208


Use Lights at Night – A white headlight and reflectors are required by law if riding when it’s dark. CVC 21201

Ride with a Brake – Your bike must be equipped with a brake that enables you “to make one braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.” CVC 21201

Wear a Helmet – Bicyclists under the age of 18 must wear a helmet that meets minimum accepted standards. CVC 21212



Don’t Ride Under the Influence – You can be cited for riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs. CVC 21200.5

This information is shared from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. Founded in 1998, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) works to build a better, more bike-able Los Angeles County.  Find out more here:

The Milt Olin Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit tax exempt organization.