Q: A few weeks ago I remember reading a column regarding bicyclists riding along the right edge of the roadway and the new sensors City Hall installed at controlled intersections (“Cycling safely on city streets,” On The Beat, Jan. 14-15). I have considered using my bicycle more often for transportation and I wanted to know if there are other laws I should know when I am out on my bicycle.
A: If you remember we talked about cyclists having to ride close to the right edge of the roadway when traveling slower the normal speed of traffic (21202(a) VC), but there are other laws that cyclists need to know.
First let’s take a look at the Santa Monica Municipal Code:
• Section 3.12.540(a) of the Santa Monica Municipal Code prohibits bicyclists from riding on the sidewalk. Bicyclists must use the roadway when traveling in Santa Monica.
Now let’s take a look at the California Vehicle Code. As mentioned above, in the January article I talked about sections 21202(a) (ride close to the right edge of the roadway when traveling slower than the normal speed of traffic) as well as 21201 (reflectors and light required while riding during hours of darkness), but let’s take a look at some other rules for bicyclists:
• Section 21650.1 states a bicycle operated on a roadway, or the shoulder of a highway, shall be operated in the same direction as vehicles are required to be driven upon the roadway. During my career I have met many cyclists who ride in the opposite direction of traffic, in other words they ride with traffic coming toward them. There have been various reasons why some cyclists ride this way but in California, it’s illegal and a cyclist can be cited.
• Section 21203 prohibits an operator of a bicycle, motorized cycle, motorcycle, roller skates, skateboard, sled or operators of toy vehicles from clinging or holding on to moving vehicles. This means cyclists (and the others previously mentioned) may not hold onto (or attach themselves to) cars, trucks, motorcycles, buses or other vehicles traveling on the roadway. This includes skateboarders/skaters holding on to bicycles traveling on the roadway.
• Section 21204(a) states a person operating a bicycle upon a highway shall not ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached to the bicycle. Subsection (b) states an operator of a bicycle shall not allow a person riding as a passenger, to ride on a bicycle on a highway other than upon or astride a separate seat attached to the bicycle. Simply put, riding on handlebars or foot pegs are not allowed for operators or passengers of bicycles. Each person on the bicycle must have a permanent or regular seat on the bicycle. Parents who have small children (40 pounds or less) must use a seat that secures the child passenger in place and protects the child passenger from the moving parts of the bicycle.
• Section 21205 prohibits an operator of a bicycle from carrying any package, bundle or article which prevents the operator from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars.
• Section 21208(a) states whenever a bicycle lane has been established on a roadway, any person operating a bicycle upon the roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride within the bicycle lane. A cyclist may only move out of the bicycle lane when overtaking another bicycle, vehicle or pedestrian within the lane if the passing and overtaking cannot be done safely within the bicycle lane.
Cyclists may also exit the bicycle lane when preparing to turn onto a private road or driveway, preparing to make a left turn at an intersection and when reasonably necessary to leave the bicycle lane to avoid debris or other hazards. No cyclist may leave the bicycle lane until it is reasonably safe to do so and only after giving the appropriate signal.
• Section 21210 states no person shall leave a bicycle lying on its side on a sidewalk, or shall park a bicycle on a sidewalk in any other position, so that there is not an adequate path for pedestrian traffic.
• Section 21212 requires any operator of a bicycle, non-motorized scooter, skateboard or anyone wearing in-line or roller skates on a street, bikeway or other public bike path or trail and is under the age of 18 to wear a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet approved by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). If you are unsure about a helmet, look for a sticker with the letters ASTM either inside the helmet or on the packaging that came with the helmet.
• Section 27400 prohibits drivers and cyclists from covering both ears while operating their vehicles on the road. This includes personal headphones/earbuds.
Let’s not forget about red lights and stop signs. Bicyclists are required to stop for both stop signs and red lights when operating on the roadway; this includes T-intersections as well.
Now I know I may have thrown a lot of information at you in this column, but if I had to put in simple terms I would say this:
Drivers need to be careful and watch for bicyclists on the roadway. Cyclists have the right and are required to use the roadway when traveling. Cyclists and drivers have to be careful and share the road, but it doesn’t give a cyclist carte blanche to ride on the road any way they choose. There are rules cyclists need to follow so everyone may use the roadway in a safe manner.
Drivers of motor vehicles must remember to always look out for cyclists on the roadway. Section 22517 of the Vehicle Code prohibits any person from opening the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of traffic. No person shall leave a door open on the side available to traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.
This column was prepared by Neighborhood Resource Officer Artis Williams, (Beat 7, Sunset Park Neighborhood). He can be reached at (424) 200-0687 or firstname.lastname@example.org.