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Know your rights: Bicyclists in Los Angeles


Bicyclists in Los Angeles face many risks on the road. Motorists are supposed to share the road with bicyclists but that does not always happen. Failure to share the road with bicyclists can lead to a serious accident.

To help keep everyone safe and have a better understanding of their roles and responsibilities on the road, we have put together a list of rules for cyclists, along with common safety tips, for riding in the Los Angeles area.

Riding on the sidewalk in Los Angeles

Are bicyclists allowed to ride on the sidewalk in L.A.? Yes. Under LAMC 56.15, you can ride a bicycle on the sidewalk as long as you do not pose a risk to others, which is classified as riding "with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property." This statute does prohibit riding a bicycle on the Ocean Front Walk in Venice. This is an important distinction to understand as many other cities in Los Angeles County do not allow cyclists to ride on the sidewalk.

Other rules and safety tips for cyclists

Do you know your rights and responsibilities when you ride your bicycle? Below are the main rules to follow:

  • Obey all traffic lights and signs
  • Ride the same direction as traffic
  • Signal when you are turning or changing lanes
  • Yield to pedestrians
  • Do not wear headphones or earplugs in both ears except for hearing aids
  • All bicycles must have a brake
  • Handlebars cannot be higher than the rider's shoulders
  • Bicycles must use the bike lane or ride as far right on the road when traveling slower than traffic, except to avoid hazards or turn left

Rules for riding at night

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has some rules and tips for bicyclists. At night, bicyclists are required to have a front lamp that is visible from 300 feet, a rear red reflector or solid light that is visible from 500 feet, a white or yellow reflector on each pedal that is visible from 200 feet and a white or yellow reflector on the front and rear wheels of the bicycle.

Motorists must give enough room when passing

One of the biggest safety concerns for cyclists is when motorists travel too close to them on the road. The 3-Feet for Safety Act in California requires motorists to keep at least three feet between their vehicle and the bicycle when passing. If a vehicle does not have room to give at least three feet, they must slow down when passing.

Cycling is common in L.A. but so are the risks. Understanding the local laws and guidelines can help bicyclists protect themselves and stay safe on L.A. roads.

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