California Vehicle Codes Division 11 - Rules of the Road


VC 21200 - Laws Applicable to Bicycle Use: Peace Officer Exemption

21200. (a) Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs, and by Division 10 (commencing with Section 20000), Section 27400, Division 16.7 (commencing with Section 39000), Division 17 (commencing with Section 40000.1), and Division 18 (commencing with Section 42000), except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.

(b) (1) Any peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code, operating a bicycle during the course of his or her duties is exempt from the requirements of subdivision (a), except as those requirements relate to driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs, if the bicycle is being operated under any of the following circumstances:

  1. In response to an emergency call.
  2. While engaged in rescue operations.
  3. In the immediate pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law.

(2) This subdivision does not relieve a peace officer from the duty to operate a bicycle with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway.

VC 21200.5 - Riding Bicycle Under Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

21200.5. Notwithstanding Section 21200, it is unlawful for any person to ride a bicycle upon a highway while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug, or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug. Any person arrested for a violation of this section may request to have a chemical test made of the person's blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining the alcoholic or drug content of that person's blood pursuant to Section 23612, and, if so requested, the arresting officer shall have the test performed. A conviction of a violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250). Violations of this section are subject to Section 13202.5.

Amended Ch. 1697, Stats. 1990. Effective January 1, 1991.
Amended Sec. 3, Ch. 740, Stats. 1998. Effective January 1, 1999.
Amended Sec. 17, Ch. 22, Stats. 1999. Effective May 26, 1999. 

VC 21201 - Equipment Requirements

21201.  (a) No person shall operate a bicycle on a roadway unless it is equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make one braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

(b) No person shall operate on the highway a bicycle equipped with handlebars so raised that the operator must elevate his hands above the level of his shoulders in order to grasp the normal steering grip area.

(c) No person shall operate upon a highway a bicycle that is of a size that prevents the operator from safely stopping the bicycle, supporting it in an upright position with at least one foot on the ground, and restarting it in a safe manner.

(d) A bicycle operated during darkness upon a highway, a sidewalk where bicycle operation is not prohibited by the local jurisdiction, or a bikeway, as defined in Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, shall be equipped with all of the following:

(1) A lamp emitting a white light that, while the bicycle is in motion, illuminates the highway, sidewalk, or bikeway in front of the bicyclist and is visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the bicycle.

(2) A red reflector on the rear that shall be visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle.

(3) A white or yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe, or ankle visible from the front and rear of the bicycle from a distance of 200 feet.

(4) A white or yellow reflector on each side forward of the center of the bicycle, and a white or red reflector on each side to the rear of the center of the bicycle, except that bicycles that are equipped with reflectorized tires on the front and the rear need not be equipped with these side reflectors.

(e) A lamp or lamp combination, emitting a white light, attached to the operator and visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the bicycle, may be used in lieu of the lamp required by paragraph (1) of subdivision (d). 

VC 21201.3 - Bicycle or Motorized Bicycle Lights

21201.3. (a) A bicycle or motorized bicycle used by a peace officer, as defined in Section 830.1 of, subdivision (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), (g), or (i) of Section 830.2 of, subdivision (b) or (d) of Section 830.31 of, subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 830.32 of, Section 830.33 of, subdivision (a) of Section 830.36 of, subdivision (a) of Section 830.4 of, or Section 830.6 of, the Penal Code, in the performance of the peace officer's duties, may display a steady or flashing blue warning light that is visible from the front, sides, or rear of the bicycle or motorized bicycle.

(b) No person shall display a steady or flashing blue warning light on a bicycle or motorized bicycle except as authorized under subdivision (a).

VC 21201.5 - Reflectorized Equipment

21201.5. (a) No person shall sell, or offer for sale, a reflex reflector or reflectorized tire of a type required on a bicycle unless it meets requirements established by the department. If there exists a federal Consumer Product Safety Commission regulation applicable to bicycle reflectors, the provisions of that regulation shall prevail over provisions of this code or requirements established by the department pursuant to this code relative to bicycle reflectors.

(b) No person shall sell, or offer for sale, a new bicycle that is not equipped with a red reflector on the rear, a white or yellow reflector on each pedal visible from the front and rear of the bicycle, a white or yellow reflector on each side forward of the center of the bicycle, and a white or red reflector on each side to the rear of the center of the bicycle, except that bicycles which are equipped with reflectorized tires on the front and rear need not be equipped with these side reflectors.

(c) Area reflectorizing material meeting the requirements of Section 25500 may be used on a bicycle.

VC 21202 - Operation on Roadway

21202. (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:

  1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
  2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
  3. When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a "substandard width lane" is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
  4. When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

(b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway of a highway, which highway carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of that roadway as practicable.

VC 23100 - Application of Chapter

23100. The provisions of this chapter apply to vehicles upon the highways and elsewhere throughout the State unless expressly provided otherwise.

VC 21204 - Riding on Bicycle

21204.  (a)( )1 A person operating a bicycle upon a highway shall not ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached thereto, unless the bicycle was designed by the manufacturer to be ridden without a seat.

(b) An operator shall not allow a person riding as a passenger, and a person shall not ride as a passenger, on a bicycle upon a highway other than upon or astride a separate seat attached thereto. If the passenger is four years of age or younger, or weighs 40 pounds or less, the seat shall have adequate provision for retaining the passenger in place and for protecting the passenger from the moving parts of the bicycle. 

VC 21205 - Carrying Articles 

21205. No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle or article which prevents the operator from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars.