Laws for bikes aren’t terribly complicated, and you can save yourself a lot of trouble by being familiar with them.  In a few important cases, the law protects you for riding safely, even when it might inconvenience automobile drivers.

  1. Ride Sober – Drinking or using drugs and riding a bike is similar to a DUI and it’s a hefty ticket.
  2. Use Lights – A white front light is required, a red back light is a good idea.
  3. Ride Like You Drive - Riding unpredictably is the fastest way to go down.  Ride in a straight line in the appropriate traffic lane. Use hand signals to let drivers know where you intend to go. Check behind you.
  4. Wear a Helmet – It’s required if you’re under 18, but it’s a good idea for everyone.
  5. Take The Lane - Don’t let drivers intimidate you.  If it is hazardous (or you need to pass) on the right, you can legally ride in the MIDDLE of the right lane. Stay out of the “Door Zone“! Keep 3 feet from any parked car, even if you’re in a bike lane.
  6. Obey Red Lights and Stop Signs - Yes, you can get a ticket!
  7. Stay Positive - Be courteous to other drivers, even if they don’t give the same courtesy. Be civil with the police to maintain peace.


California Bike Law

  • California’s bicycling statutes

Bike Law 101 in San Francisco

  • A helpful page by the SF Bike Coalition, including laws, theft prevention, what to do in a collision, and more

Bicycles and The Law

  • A more thorough legal discussion.