California Bicycle Laws About You and Your Bike
California Bicycle Laws

Cute dog in bicycle basket. California Bicycle Laws About You and Your Bike.

Before you hit the road on your bike in California, you must ensure your bicycle is street legal according to California bicycle laws.  Your bike must be equipped with:

  • An Appropriately Sized Bike: Your bike must be small enough for you to stop, support with one foot on the ground, and start safely.
  • Brakes: Your bike’s brake(s) must allow you to perform a one-braked-wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.  
  • Handlebars: Must not be higher than your shoulders. 
  • Lights: At night, a white headlight, visible from the front, must be attached to the bike, or bicyclist.
  • Reflectors: At night, your bike must have the following reflectors:
    • Visible from the front and back: white or yellow reflector on each pedal, or on the bicyclist’s shoes or ankles;
    • Visible from the side: white or yellow reflector on the front half of the bicycle and a red or white reflector on each side of the back half fo the bike;
    • Visible from the back: red reflector.  You may attach a solid or flashing red read light in addition. 
  • Seats: Must have a permanent, regular seat, unless the bicycle is designed by the manufacturer to be ridden without a seat.  Passengers less than 40 pounds must have a seat which retains them in place, and protects them from moving parts. 

So, now that you know what you need for your bike, here are some other California bicycle laws you need to know to make sure you are street legal while riding your bicycle in California:

California Bicycle Laws – YOU the Bike Rider – What Bike Laws Should I Know?

  • Helmets: Bicyclists and passengers, under 18 years-old, must wear an approved helmet with riding on a bike.  Although all bicyclists, and all passengers should wear helmets when riding a bike. 
  • Headphones: Like drivers, cyclers must have one ear free from earplugs, or headsets.  However, hearing aids are allowed. 
  • Cell phones: Unlike drivers, bicyclists can use handheld cell phones while riding their bikes.  But, don’t be that person who is paying attention to their phone, and crashes their bike into a shrub. 
  • Alcohol and Drugs:  BUI’s (biking under the influence) is a real thing.  Bicyclists may not ride their bike while under the influence of drugs, and/or alcohol. 
  • Hitching Rides: Bicyclists may not hitch rides from vehicles.  It is illegal, risky, and dumb. 
  • Carrying stuff: Bicyclists must have at least one hand free to operate the bicycle. 
  • Pedestrians: Bicyclists must yield the right of way to pedestrians within marked crosswalks, or within unmarked crosswalks at intersections.  But, bicyclists should always yield the right of way to pedestrians because it is the courteous thing to do. 
  • Parking: Bicyclists must take care when parking their bikes.  They must make sure they are not leaving their bikes on their sides on the sidewalk, or in a manner which obstructs pedestrians. 
silhouette of bike rider passing people at the beach

We are big on bikes here. Clay and John are avid riders.

If you have more questions about California bicycle laws, or about how other bicycle laws might affect you, feel free to email us at  Just give us your name, phone number, and let us know what we can help you with.  We are big on bikes here.  Clay and John are avid riders.  Clay spends most of his time on the streets.  John spends most of his time on the trails.  Clay and John donate their money and time to groups like the Wisconsin Bike Federation, the California Bike Coalition, and Bicycling Monterey.  Clay has served on the Board of Directors for the Wisconsin Bike Federation.  We represent bicyclists in California and Wisconsin, and anywhere else we are needed.  We offer free resources to everybody, and free consultations to people who have been hurt while riding their bicycles. 

We take cases that we believe in.

We are there if you need us.  Clay and John are both nationally recognized as top attorneys and “Super Lawyers”.  But, all you have to do is read our reviews and you will see that what sets us apart is how much we care.  We do not take everything that walks in the door and settle pre-filing.  We take cases that we believe in.  We work them up, and we settle them for an appropriate amount, or we try them.  That is how Clay secured one of the largest bike verdicts in the United States.  If you, or a loved one, has been injured in a bike accident, you want quality representation you can trust.  Email us today at to set up a free consultation. 



Your responses will go straight to John’s inbox. John will review and respond by the end of the business day. If John thinks he can help, he’ll email you a link to schedule a free consultation with him. If John doesn’t think he can help, he’ll email you resources to help you understand the law, find a qualified lawyer to help you, and take steps to protect your rights. No waiting around.

McCarthy Law Monterrey Locations

McCarthy Law

From our offices in Monterey, California and Fresno, California, we serve clients throughout the California Central Coast, including but not limited to: Fresno County, Kern County, Madera County, Merced County, Monterey County, San Benito County, San Joaquin County, San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County, Santa Cruz County, Stanislaus County, and Tuolumne County.