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Are Bicyclists Considered Pedestrians or Fellow Motorists?

california bicycle laws

One unclear legal nuance that bicyclists commonly face is, are bicyclists considered pedestrians or fellow motorists? Also, are the rights and legal obligations of a bicyclist the same as pedestrians or motorcyclists? If you ride a bicycle in the state of California, it is essential to know these definitions so that you can be safe on the road and follow all the applicable rules accordingly. This reason is why it is crucial to get legal advice from a knowledgeable bicycle accident attorney. This article will go over these questions and illustrate the laws surrounding bicyclists in California.

Legal Status of Bicycle Riders in California

State laws contained in the California Vehicle Code specify how and where a bicycle must operate. In large part, the rights and responsibilities of a bicycle rider are the same as a motor vehicle driver. If you are riding on the street, motorists will treat you like a fellow driver. You must have safety features such as a helmet, lights, and reflectors. Moreover, you need to obey all signal turns and traffic signs. However, when riding a bicycle on the sidewalk, you are functionally a pedestrian. If you are in a crosswalk, motorists should yield to you.

California allows bicyclists to use sidewalks along with people who are on foot, except in areas where there are bike lanes. Bicycle laws do vary between municipalities in California, so you need to be aware of your local regulations. In the unfortunate event of an accident where you suffer personal injuries, you must consult with an experienced California accident attorney to protect your rights.

Type 3 Electric Bikes and Mopeds Are Not Bicycles 

High-speed Class 3 electric bikes and gas-powered bikes cannot drive on bike lanes or trails, except where allowed by the local authorities. You may use them on designated bikeways or bike lanes adjacent to the road. You must be 16 years of age to operate these vehicles legally, and the law requires you to wear a helmet.

Low-speed Class 1 and 2 electric bikes, which have a maximum speed of 20 mph, receive similar treatment to regular bicycles. You can ride them wherever the local city allows bicycles to operate, except where signs prohibit these types of vehicles explicitly.

Biking Violations in California

Many bicyclists in California worry about what kind of penalties they may face if they happen to violate a traffic law. For instance, bicycle riders often ignore traffic lights and stop signs, while assuming that these traffic control systems do not apply to them. In most cases, this assumption is incorrect and could result in a ticket. 

While you are on the road riding a bicycle, you are subject to the same rules and penalties as fellow motorists. Law enforcement can charge you for speeding or operating your bike under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These violations could result in fines, license suspension, or even imprisonment for a bicycle rider. 

Speak to a Beverly Hills Personal Injury Attorney Today

Have you suffered injuries while on a bicycle in California, or are you facing charges from a bicycle-related incident? You need to enlist the services of an experienced and professional personal injury attorney to protect your rights. The Law Offices of Jeffrey Fleitman employs a knowledgeable team of attorneys who will fight tooth and nail to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. We pride ourselves on being straight shooters: direct, honest, and personable with every client. Unlike other practices, you can guarantee a lawyer will handle your entire case from start to finish, not an unqualified staff member. Call us today at 310-399-2889 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation today.

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