The California Vehicle Code (C.V.C) is a rulebook containing information about traffic laws in California. Specific sections of the C.V.C defining rules and laws for pedestrian and bicycle travel are described below.
Information for Bicyclists
A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. As such, bicycles are generally prohibited from riding on sidewalks or in crosswalks. An exception to this is on marked crosswalks of multi-use paths. On multi-use paths, bicyclists function as pedestrians at intersections by activating the pedestrian signal and waiting for the light to change in their favor. 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. Unless otherwise directed by a bicycle signal, an operator of a bicycle shall obey the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle at all traffic signals.
As set forth by Section 21201 of the California Vehicle Code, no person shall operate a bicycle on a roadway unless it is equipeed with a brake that will enable the operator to make one braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
21202. 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. 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. 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.
As set forth by Section 21203 of the California Vehicle Code, 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.
21207.5 of the California Vehicle Code, a motorized bicycle shall not be operated on a bicycle path or trail, bikeway, bicycle lane established pursuant to Section 21207, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail, unless it is within or adjacent to a roadway or unless the local authority or the governing body of a public agency having jurisdiction over the path or trail permits, by ordinance, that operation.
21208. Whenever a bicycle lane has been established on a roadway pursuant to Section 21207, 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, except that the person may move out of the lane under any of the following situations:
(1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle, vehicle, or pedestrian within the lane or about to enter the lane if the overtaking and passing cannot be done safely within the lane.
(2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
(3) When reasonably necessary to leave the bicycle lane to avoid debris or other hazardous conditions.
(4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.
21211. No person may place or park any bicycle, vehicle, or any other object upon any bikeway or bicycle path or trail, which impedes or blockts the noraml and reasonable movement of any bicyclist unless the placement or parking is necessary for safe operation or is otherwise in compliance with the law.
Whenever the owner of a bicycle licensed pursuant to an ordinance or resolution of a city or county changes his address, he shall within 10 days notify the appropriate licensing agency of the old and new address.
In the event that any bicycle license indicia or registration form issued pursuant to the provisions of this division is lost, stolen, or mutilated, the licensee of such bicycle shall immediately notify the licensing agency, and, within 10 days after such notification, shall apply to the licensing agency for a duplicate license indicia or registration form. Thereupon, the licensing agency shall issue to such licensee a replacement indicia or registration form upon payment to the licensing agency of the appropriate fee.
The department, in cooperation with local agencies, shall publish a statewide map illustrating state highway routes available for the use of bicyclists and, where bicyclists are prohibited from using a state highway, illustrating, in such a case, safe, alternate routes available to the bicyclist.
Information for Pedestrians
The California Vehicle Code describes the responsibilities of pedestrians when crossing the street or walking along a street on a sidewalk.
The Vehicle Code also addresses the roles and responsibilities of motorists in relationship to pedestrians and wheelchair users.
California, like most other states, requires both pedestrians and drivers to exercise due care. All street intersections are legally considered crosswalks, whether marked or unmarked.
The Vehicle Code states that drivers must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway in a marked or unmarked crosswalk. The Vehicle Code does not prohibit pedestrians from crossing roadways at places other than crosswalks, except between adjacent intersections controlled by traffic signals or police officers. Local authorities may adopt ordinances prohibiting pedestrians from crossing streets outside crosswalks. For signalized intersections, the Vehicle Code states that the pedestrian may cross with a green light at any marked or unmarked crosswalk unless expressly prohibited. The pedestrian shall yield the right-of-way to vehicles lawfully within the intersection at the time the signal changed. For closely adjoining intersections, defined in the Vehicle Code as intersections where the outermost boundaries are confined in a distance of 200 or fewer feet, the Department of Transportation or local jurisdiction may designate a single intersection. When so designated, the single intersection shall be the legal intersection for the purposes of traffic movement and regulation. The Vehicle Code does not specifically state whether vehicles need to remain stopped until the pedestrian has completely crossed the street. This topic has become an important issue with regard to pedestrian safety due to the phenomenon known as the "multiple threat." This occurs when one vehicle stops for pedestrians who are in a crosswalk, and the car(s) in the adjacent travel lane(s) fail(s) to yield to the pedestrians. Section 21951 of the California Vehicle Code addresses this issue by stating that “[w]hen a vehicle is stopped at a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway, vehicles approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle.” Because there is no law against driving through the crosswalk after the pedestrian has passed (but not reached the opposite curb), motorists from the rear may not see the pedestrian in the crosswalk due to the other vehicle continuing to move forward.
Section 21956 states that pedestrian may walk close to their right-hand edge of the roadway if a crosswalk or other means of safely crossing the roadway is not availabe or if existing traffic or other conditions would compromise the safety of a pedestrian attempting to cross the road.
Section 21966 states that a pedestrian shall not proceed along a bicycle path or lane where there is an adjacent adequate pedestrian facility. It also states that a peace officer, shall not stop a pedestrian for a violation for a subdivision unless a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of a collision with a moving vehicle or other device moving exclusively by human power.
According to the Vehicle Code, "it is the policy of the State of California that safe and convenient pedestrian travel and access, whether by foot, wheelchair, walker, or stroller, be provided to the residents of the state." The code also states that it is the intent of the Legislature that all government levels, especially Caltrans and other DOTs, will work to provide safe, convenient passage for pedestrians on or across all streets and highways, increase levels of walking, and reduce pedestrian fatalities and injuries.
Information for Micromobility Users
A “shared mobility device” includes electrically motorized board, motorized scooter, electric bicycle, bicycle, or other similar transportation device that is made available to the public at a price by a shared mobility service provider for shared use and transportation.
A person operating an electric bicycle has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions relevant to a motor vehicle driver, including but not limited to the clause of driving under the influence.
In accordance with Section 21207.5, a motorized bicycle shall not be operated on a bicycle path or trail, bikeway, bicycle lane established pursuant to Section 21207, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail, unless it is within or adjacent to a roadway or unless the local authority or the governing body of a public agency having jurisdiction over the path or trail permits, by ordinance, that operation.
Section 21210 states that no person shall leave a bicycle lying on its side on any sidewalk, or shall park a bicycle on a sidewalk in any other position, so that there is not an adequate path for pedestrian traffic. Local authorities may, by ordinance or resolution, prohibit bicycle parking in designated areas of the public highway, provided that appropriate signs are erected.
Section 21213 states that a class 3 electric bicycle can only be operated by a person who is 16 years of age or older. A person riding a class 3 electric bicycle must wear a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet.
Meant to prevent scooter accidents, Section 21228 enforces e-scooters to turn left by: stopping after the intersection on the right curb, dismounting, and crossing the roadway on foot.
E-scooters are required to ride in a Class type II bicycle lane. Section 21229 states that this type of bicycle lane is on the right edge of a street and has a solid white line on each side. It usually has a bicycle symbol inside the white borders. It only facilitates one-way riding. There are only four exceptions to this law: while passing another vehicle or pedestrian, when completing a left hand turn, to avoid debris or other hazards in the bike lane, or when turning right.
E-scooters have to follow traffic rules like a motor vehicle. Section 21221 says that E-scooters have all the same rights and responsibilities as a motor vehicle. The only exception is where those rights or responsibilities “by their very nature, can have no application.” This traffic provision makes specific mention of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drunk E-scootering can lead to a DUI charge, as well as a traffic ticket of around $350.
Riders under the age of eighteen are required to wear a bicycle helmet when using an e-scooter. Section 21235 states that the helmet must be worn properly and fastened. Violation of this code can result to a fine up to $200. It is important to note that this requirement does not apply to adults. Also, this section forbids riding an e-scooter on the sidewalk, riding with a passenger on the scooter, and driving an e-scooter without a driver's license. Riding an e-scooter on the sidewalk is only permissible if the e-scooter is being parked or to get a parked scooter onto the streets.
Section 275 defines crosswalks as sidewalks at street intersections that are approximately right angles. Under section 21235, it is a traffic violation to ride an E-scooter on a sidewalk. Therefore, it is also a violation to ride one in a crosswalk and doing so can lead to a traffic ticket of around $200.
No person shall operate a motorized scooter at a speed in excess of 15 miles per hour.
An electrically motorized board shall be operated onlyby person who is 16 years of age or older.
A person shall not operate an electrically motorized board upon a highway, bikeway, or any other public bicycle path, sidewalk, or trail, unless that person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet that meets the standards described in Section 21212.
Section 21293 states that every electrically motorized board operated upon a highway during darkness shall be equipped with all of the following:
(1) Except as provided in subdivision (b), a lamp emitting a white light that, while the electrically motorized board is in motion, illuminates the highway in front of the operator and is visible from a distance of 300 feet in front of the electrically motorized board.
(2) Except as provided in subdivision (c), a red reflector on the rear that is 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) Except as provided in subdivision (d), a white or yellow reflector on each side that is visible from a distance of 200 feet from the sides of the electrically motorized board.
n electrically motorized board shall only operate upon a highway designated with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less, unless the electrically motorized board is operated entirely within a designated Class II or Class IV bikeway.