What Do I Do If I Get a Bicycle Ticket in California?

Know Your Rights Under California Bike Law

Cycling is a fun, healthy and environmentally friendly way to get around town. However, if you do not know your rights and the bicycle road rules, it can become dangerous for you and other motorists. Generally, cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as those operating motor vehicles. As a bike rider, it is your responsibility to know where and how to ride, or you could become subject to the same violations and fines as motorists for failing to honor traffic laws. The best way to avoid getting a bike ticket is to understand California law; if you do get a ticket while riding your bike, then you may be able to dispute the citation by gathering evidence that you were in compliance with the law.

If you recently received a bicycle ticket in California, you may feel lost as to where to turn next. As an avid cyclist himself, San Diego attorney Joshua Bonnici brings his passion of the sport into his work and is committed to helping other cyclists stay informed of California bicycle laws, as well as representing cyclists that have been injured in bicycle accidents.

What Are California’s Bicycle Stop Sign Laws?

California’s sunny skies make it the perfect place for bike-enthusiasts to explore. However, many riders are unaware of California’s bicycle laws and may be shocked to find out that they could be subject to moving violations for not abiding by bicycle laws. In fact, cyclists are required to comply with motor vehicle traffic laws, which include obeying stop signs and red lights, as well as basic right-of-way rules. This means that you must come to a full stop at all stop signs and lights; failure to do so may result in an expensive ticket.

In addition to following motor vehicle traffic laws, riders must keep some additional specific rules in mind, some of which include:

  • Bike Lane Usage: Riders are required to use bike lanes if they are available and if the rider is moving slower than traffic. If you need to avoid a pedestrian or car in the bike lane, pass another cyclist or make a left turn, you may exit the bike lane only after giving the appropriate signal and determining it is reasonably safe to do so.
  • Helmets and Earphones: Cyclists and passengers under the age of 18 are required to wear a bicycle helmet that meets California’s certification standards. Cyclists may not wear headphones covering both ears, or earbuds in both ears.
  • Yield to Pedestrians: Bicycle riders must give the right of way to pedestrians within marked and unmarked crosswalks.

Can You Ride Bikes on Sidewalks in San Diego?

While California state laws neither allow nor specifically prohibit cyclists from riding on sidewalks, the law does permit local county and city governments to determine whether they allow bike riders on sidewalks or not. In San Diego, bicycle riding is allowed on sidewalks, except in business districts.

Despite being legal in San Diego, riding on the sidewalk can often pose more of a threat than riding in the street. Due to the nature of street signs, trees and other visual obstructions, you may be invisible to cars exiting their driveways or turning into your path. You are also at a higher risk of coming into contact with pedestrians, who retain the right of way on the sidewalk. Keep these factors in mind when determining your route to ensure that your ride is as safe as possible.

What Should I Do If I Got a Bicycle Ticket in California?

Just like motorists, California cyclists can receive traffic tickets. If you got a ticket while riding your bike, consider doing the following:

  • Look up the vehicle code on your ticket online: In order to confirm the validity of your ticket, you should research the vehicle code and determine if you were rightfully cited. If you were not, then you may be able to dispute the ticket.
  • Make sure your citation indicates that it occurred while riding a bicycle: Your ticket should state that you were cited while riding a bike and not while driving a motor vehicle. The ticket should not show up on your driving record because you are not required to have a driver’s license to ride a bicycle. If your ticket does not state “bike” or “bicycle”, make sure the court is aware that the citation is bicycle-related to avoid any marks on your driving record.
  • Collect your own evidence: Take note of where the violation occurred and where the issuing officer was when it happened. What were the traffic and road conditions like? Take photographs of the scene for physical evidence. This information will be valuable if you decide to fight the ticket in court.

Questions About Bicycle Road Rules? Call Our San Diego Attorney Today

If you have been injured due to a bicycle accident, or would simply like to learn more about California cyclist laws, feel free to contact San Diego bicycle injury attorney Joshua Bonnici for a free consultation. His years of personal experience as a cyclist allows him to provide the quality legal information and representation necessary for bicyclists involved in accidents.