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How Bicycles Should Ride

wrong way bicycle sign

California Vehicle Code 21202 discusses many of the important laws guiding bicycle riders on the roadway, but code 21650.1 draws specific attention to the direction bicycles should ride. Because bicycles are subject to many of the same laws as motor vehicles, bicycles must be operated in the same direction as vehicles are required to be driven.

This law is key, as bicycles on the roadway are required to use the right side of the road, either in the shoulder or in a bike lane, if car traffic is fast. In order for the bicycle to travel on the right side of the road, he must be traveling within the right flow of traffic, otherwise he would be in the center of opposing traffic. It is not appropriate for bicycle riders to travel on the far opposite side of the road, which may be the left hand side, against the flow of traffic.

Riding On The Sidewalk

In some cities it is lawful for bicycles to be used on the sidewalk. This law is often determined locally, and bicyclists must learn what is legal for where they ride. If it is legal for bicycles to travel on the sidewalk, it may not be required for the bicycle to be on the right side of the road, traveling with the flow of traffic.

However, most laws allowing bicycles to be used on sidewalks still require that bicycles give the right of way to pedestrians and that bicycles be operated at a slow, safe speed. Traveling against pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk may be dangerous or illegal depending on local laws.

Riding Side by Side

The California Vehicle Code doesn't state anything about riding side-by-side in the bike lane. However, this article on wikipedia shows that there may be some local municipality rules governing bike riding side-by-side, so we recommend that you contact your city to make sure that it is legal.

In other states like colorado, it is legal to ride two abreast unless doing so impedes traffic, or is otherwise dangerous (On a single lane highway or a windy canyon road). It would be wise to take similar safety precautions in California.

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