Tag Archive for California bike laws

¡Viva CicLAvia! Part 2, and why you need to know the law

photo from LADOT Bike Blog

I really had no intention of talking more CicLAvia today.

To be honest, I’ve been itching to get to the Time’s Sandy Banks’ misguided motorhead perspective on the Wilbur Avenue road diet.

But frankly, everyone is still talking about Sunday’s CicLAvia. I spent all day yesterday just trying to keep up with all the great coverage popping up online — and these are just the ones that crossed my radar, without looking for them.

Urban Adonia writes about CicLAvia from the perspective ofone of the key movers who helped make it a reality. LADOT Bike Blog recounts his day at CicLAvia, and offers my favorite photo of the day (see above) among others. LAist calls it 7.5 miles of 100,000 smiles. Curbed says it brought out the best of L.A. Blogdowntown offered photos and live updates throughout the morning. Where the Sidewalk Starts offers an overview of key reviews, while Neon Tommy suggests there were only 50,000 people there, not the 100,000 the Times reported. KPCC says thousandslived the fantasy of a car-free L.A. for a few hours. El Chavo says cyclists want three feet, but wouldn’t give CicLAvia walkers the same consideration. LA Loyalist calls it a unique and wonderful experience.Maddie looks at CicLAvia from an urban planning perspective.

Stephen & Enci Box interview a handful of leading CicLAvistas, and CD4 candidate Stephen offers his view on the day. Sunday featured biking, walking, skating — and marriage. Alex Thompson employs his usual great eye behind the camera. Bicycle Fixation isn’t too bad behind the lens, either. The Source’s Steve Hymon offers more great photos; that view leading to the First Congregational Church was my favorite vista of the day, but then, I’m a sucker for traditional religious architecture. And still more photos from Melissa F, Joel Epstein, Megan Hirsch and GTWODT. KCBC Channel 2 says there wasn’t a car in sight, and Ohai Joe posts a great video record of the day. Even the formerly alternative curmudgeons at the L.A. Weekly say maybe they got it wrong.

But maybe Unja sums it up best, by saying you just had to experience it for yourself. And you could have a chance as soon as next August, with the possibility of three more before the end of next year. Personally, I vote for another one next spring.

One suggestion for next time — put out some donation buckets at major intersections where everyone will see them, and ask people to drop in a dollar. I have a feeling if they’d done that this time, it would have more than paid for the next one.

In the meantime, maybe you can satisfy that bike urge at the Tour de Fat in two more weeks.


Just a quick reminder why you need to know the law at least as well as the authorities.

A cyclist in San Anselmo CA was hit by a car while riding through a crosswalk last week, and the local police demonstrated their failure to keep up with the actions of the state legislature.

According to a local report, a spokeswoman for the San Anselmo police department said that “if a cyclist rides his or her bike from the sidewalk into the crosswalk, then the cyclist is legally at fault.”

So for any cyclists — or yes, law enforcement personnel — who are unclear on the concept, CVC 21650 (g), which took effect last year, specifically permits cyclists to ride in the crosswalk anywhere riding on the sidewalk is allowed.

This section does not prohibit the operation of bicycles on any shoulder of a highway, on any sidewalk, on any bicycle path within a highway, or along any crosswalk or bicycle path crossing, where the operation is not otherwise prohibited by this code or local ordinance.

Riding on the sidewalk may or may not be legal in San Anselmo. After scouring the city’s website and its 2008 bike plan, I couldn’t find anything that addressed the matter.

But if it isn’t prohibited, the victim was perfectly within his rights to ride in the crosswalk; if it is, the violation occurred long before he got to the intersection, which the police spokeswoman fails to note.

I hope he’s got a good lawyer.


Reuters reports on an interesting study of 11 New York city bike lanes by Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, finding that the success of Gotham’s growing network of bikeways is being undermined by just about everyone. The most common violations include salmon and red-light running riders, as well as cars and pedestrians blocking bike lanes — and police using the lanes to bypass traffic even when there’s no emergency. But even with the problems, it’s evidently still a great way to see the city. Thanks to Matthew Spence for the heads-up.


LACBC’s City of Lights program celebrates new bike parking in Pico-Union. Gary gets another response from a candidate of Santa Monica City Council. Becks and his boys bike along Venice Beach; hint to the $250 million man — your kids’ helmets would work better if they buckle the straps. If you haven’t OD’d on bike photos yet, the South Bay Bicycle Coalition offers shots of Sunday’s PedalPalooza. San Diego State University unbans bikes after building a separated bike and skateboard path; maybe USC should be taking notes. Evidently, the mean streets of San Francisco’s are that way because they’re full of potholes. Bike zombies invade Oakland; probably because potholes drove them out of Bagdad by the Bay. Levi Leipheimer leads 6,000 riders in Sonoma County’s King Ridge Grand Fondo; riders included TV star Patrick Dempsey, who seems to be on his bike everywhere but L.A. Unfortunately, one of the Grand Fondo riders remains in serious condition after a hit-and-run on the ride.

Portland bike maven Elly Blue says there’s bike safety in numbers, and offers the research to back it up.Biking infrastructure is all the rage throughout the U.S. AAA now offers bike coverage in Oregon and Idaho, but their policies still are anti-bike; competitor Better World Club — which offers bike coverage here — calls it greenwashing. Will a bike that makes you virtually lie forward make you a faster rider? The Virginia Bicycling Federation says same road, same rules, rights, and responsibilities. Charleston police crack down on salmon and sidewalk cyclists. An interview with cyclocross champ Katie Compton.

A popular Victoria bike and hike trail is reopened after people repeatedly tear down barricades blocking it. Dorset’s pedaling plumber takes to his bike to avoid pre-Olympic traffic jams. Attempting to set the world’s land speed record for wooden bikes. It was a deadly weekend on the roads for UK cyclists. A Scot schoolboy is impaled on his BMX bike when a stunt goes wrong. Riding on the Appian Way.

Finally, detectives are being driven ape dealing with the case of a teenage cyclist in Rocky Point NY who suffered minor injuries when he was punched by two people in gorilla suits, while a third suspect in a chicken suit rode off with his bike.

No, seriously.

Riding in the gray area of the law

I’ve long argued that its safer for cyclists to move up to the front of an intersection than stop behind a line of cars in the traffic lane.

The reason is simple.

The single greatest risk any cyclist faces on the roads is that drivers may not see you. By moving up to the front of an intersection, in front of any drivers in the right lane — in other words, the same position you would occupy in a bike box — you ensure that you can be seen by everyone on the road, no matter what direction they’re coming from.

On the other hand, if you stop in place in the traffic lane, you’re at least partially hidden from oncoming and cross traffic — and possibly completely hidden from view, depending on how far back you are or how big the vehicles ahead of you are — dramatically increasing your risk of a collision. And you run the risk that a driver coming up from behind will be focused on the car ahead of you, and fail to notice the bike right behind it.

Of course, there are those who disagree.

Some cyclists argue that it’s rude to block cars from turning right or force drivers to pass you repeatedly as they move by once, then have to pass again after you filter past on your way up to the red light.

The first is easy to address. If the car at the front of the right lane has its turn signal on or is moving to the right, simply position yourself slightly in front and to its left, leaving room for it to make a right. And don’t be surprised if the driver thanks you for that bit of courtesy before turning.

As for the second, whether or not passing becomes a problem depends on how difficult you make it.

I usually move slightly to the right once the light changes, allowing the first few cars to go by before retaking my place in the traffic lane. And I try to leave a little more room on my left when there are no parked cars next to me — and therefore, no risk of dooring — remaining at the edge of the traffic lane but leaving room for drivers to get by when it’s safe.

The other argument against filtering up to the intersection is that it’s dangerous and/or illegal to pass on the right.

The danger is easy to deal with by using a modicum of care. Simply put, don’t pass a car on the right if it could move into your path; if it’s blocked in place by the cars ahead, though, you should be safe. And never pass a moving car — or a car that has room to move into your path — on the right if it has its turn signal on or is edging towards the right; under those circumstances, you’re wiser, and legally allowed, to pass on the left.

Whether passing on the right is 100% legal may be another matter.*

I’ve always argued that you’re allowed to do it to pass slow or stopped traffic. After all, lane splitting is legal in California, and despite common misconceptions, it’s perfectly legal for drivers to pass on the right if they can do it safely, without driving off the paved or main-travelled portion of the roadway.

In other words, they can’t use the shoulder of the roadway to pass on the right. But you can.

Bikes are specifically allowed to ride in places cars are’t, like bike lanes, parking lanes or on the shoulder — which means you’re often riding in a separate lane from the motor vehicles on your left. And since you’re subject to the same rights and responsibilities as any other vehicle, that means you can legally pass on the right, just like they can under similar circumstances.

Look at it this way.

Say you were driving in the right lane of a four lane highway when the car ahead of you in the left lane stops to make a left turn. Does that mean you have to stop as well?

Of course not. Not only are you allowed to keep going, you could even move around and pass in the right lane if you were directly behind him when he stopped.

It’s just common sense. And specifically allowed under California law.

On the other hand, common sense and court verdicts can be mutually exclusive around here.

For instance, on Monday, Cyclelicious told the story of a cyclist who was riding in a San Francisco bike lane when he was doored by a passenger exiting a taxi on the right. And even though dooring is clearly illegal in California, a jury found him partly responsible for the collision because the law that allows passing on the right specifically refers to motor vehicles, with no provision for bikes.

Never mind that we have all the rights and responsibilities of any other vehicle operators.

It’s that damn common sense thing again.

Fortunately, that won’t be a problem much longer. Virtually unnoticed in the flurry of bills signed by Governor Schwarzenegger was SB1318, which removes the reference to motor vehicle in the laws covering passing on the right.

And it specifically allows cyclists to pass on the right in a designated bike lane or the shoulder of the road, legalizing what should already have been legal by any reasonable reading of the law.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take effect until January 1st.

So until then, I’ll continue to pass stopped cars on the right, just like I always have. And ride in the gray area of the law, hoping common sense will somehow prevail.

Even in California.


Your new world champion is Norway’s Thor Hushovd, winner in a mass sprint to the finish; Mattie Breschel of Denmark is second with Aussie Allan Davis third. Think Italian rider Filippo Pozzato regrets going without sex for four months to focus on the Worlds after finishing a disappointing 4th?

Meanwhile, Bicycling says the Alberto Contador case raises more questions than answers; Contador says clear his name or he’ll hang up his cleats. And a fourth Spanish cyclist is suspended for doping as mountain bike world champion and Olympic bronze medal winner Margarita Fullana admits to breaking the rules. Spaniard Ezquiel Mosquera says his conscience is clear, while UCI Director Pat McQuaid says Spain needs to get its house in order, and the Spanish press says calls his words a blow to the heart.


With less than one week to go before L.A.’s first ciclovía, Travelin’ Local takes a look at Sunday’s upcoming CicLAvia; sounds like Will is looking forward to it. Streetsblog uncovers a film about the original in Bogotá and the organizers behind it invite you to come out and play. And Flying Pigeon suggest a cargo bike or baby carrier for the full CicLAvia experience.


Straight out of Suburbia says if Tea Partiers are really serious they’ll do something to get cars off welfare. Zero tolerance on distracted driving on Tuesday; about time, but will that include distracted cycling, as well? LADOT Bike Blog urges riders to attend Tuesday’s BAC meeting. A look at the day one of Krosstoberfest, followed by day two. New bike blog Examined Spoke compares L.A. to Copenhagen. How to prepare for your first century. After taking a bike tour with Long Beach mobility coordinator Charlie Gandy, a Hermosa Beach cyclist says that city could learn a lot from Gandy’s. The Orange County writer who insists that better courtesy is the solution to OC’s one-a-month rate of cycling deaths says riding a bike is as easy as, uh, riding a bike. Riverside police are accused of trashing a homeless camp, destroying their food and slashing bike tires. It’s cyclists versus senior citizens on the streets of Sacramento.

Looks like bike friendly Tucson has the same problems with bike parking — or the lack of it — that we do. Colorado cyclists fix unwanted bikes and donate them to the homeless. Teaching a cyclist to ride on the right side of the road. Sadly, the jogger injured in a collision with a bicyclist on Dallas bike and pedestrian trail has died. Texas drivers are urged to be more mindful of bikes, although that right turn rule is pretty confusing. A riding revolution hits the Motor City. A Wisconsin bike shop owner is seriously injured in a hit-from-behind collision, just five years after barely surviving a previous wreck. A Chattanooga cyclist is embarrassed to be associated with bicyclists who ride slowly in groups ad block traffic. Riding to a winery and orchard to pick apples, just one of the many pleasures of fall riding we miss here in L.A. The Baltimore Sun says Maryland’s new three-foot law simply codifies common sense and courtesy; in that state, you’re not impeding traffic if you’re riding within 15 mph of the speed limit. Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey rides a bike to raise funds for a Maine charity. Now that’s a big heart — after a woman is killed on her bike, her family gives away over 100 bike helmets to local children.

A London writer says Britain needs to get on its bike. London’s Daily Mail suggests that a 20% decrease in significant injuries isn’t — significant, that is. An Irish cycling coach says now is the time to decide what kind of cyclist you are to get ready for next season. Copenhagen insists that you’re safer on a bike than on your sofa.

Finally, a Vancouver editorial writer calls bike lanes an “irritating act of wrongheaded righteousness” for the “whims of a supposedly progressive elite.” And from Durham Ontario, a writer who claims to love cycling says bikes should get out of the way of cars because that’s what the roads were designed for — regardless of whether the government considers bikes vehicles.

And we thought L.A. was bad.

A comprehensive California Bike Safety Law

Let’s pick up where we left off last time.

As you may recall, I’d commented on the LACBC’s proposed Vulnerable User Law, which would increase penalties for anyone convicted of careless driving who kills or injures a cyclist, pedestrian or other vulnerable road users.

A good start, I said. But only a start, because what’s needed is a more comprehensive reform of the laws intended to ensure our place on the road, keep cars and bikes from coming in contact and governing what happens when they do.

That led to a comment from Chet K, who identified himself as a member of the LACBC, and said that the organization is open to the possibility of legislation that goes beyond a strict focus on vulnerable users. As he put it,

I don’t believe LACBC has discounted any possible solution, or set of solutions, that could result in safer roadways. What is needed is more constructive input and participation by interested road users to help push this forward.

So let’s take them up on that.

If you’ve been a regular visitor here — or you’ve clicked the links at the top of this page — you probably have a pretty good idea where I stand on the subject. So let’s take a look at some of the provisions that have already been passed in other states lately that could form the basis for a comprehensive California Bike Safety Law:

Three foot passing law — Colorado, Massachusetts, Indiana, South Carolina and Louisiana have recently joined a growing list of states that require that drivers pass cyclists at a minimum of three feet distance, and allow drivers to briefly cross lane dividers when necessary to pass a cyclist safely.

• Prohibit harassment of cyclists — Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, South Carolina and the city of Columbia, Missouri have passed laws that prohibit intentionally striking, throwing objects, yelling or honking at cyclists in a manner intended to startle, anger, frighten or injure them.

Ban right hooks, left crosses and cutting off cyclists after passing — Massachusetts now prohibits turning into the path of an oncoming cyclist or cutting back into the lane until safely clear of a cyclist; many drivers don’t learn the inherent danger of turning or cutting in front of a cyclist until it’s too late.

Safer signaling rules — Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts and South Carolina now allow signaling for right turns by either bending the left arm upward, or pointing right with the right arm. In addition, many of the states no longer require a continuous signal if traffic or road conditions require the rider to keep both hands on the handlebars.

Give cyclists greater legal protection in bike lanes — Colorado has taken an important step by extending the same legal protection enjoyed by pedestrians in a crosswalk to cyclists riding in a bike lane. In addition, many of the states have banned drivers from blocking bike lanes.

Riding two abreast is explicitly permitted — Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts and South Carolina have eliminated any confusion over whether cyclists are allowed to ride side-by-side in the roadway, allowing two-abreast riding as long as it doesn’t impede the normal flow of traffic.

Treat non-responsive red lights as a flashing red — Indiana has recognized that bikes are frequently unable to trigger the roadway sensors that cause traffic signals to turn green; as a result, cyclists there are now allowed to proceed through a red light after stopping and waiting a reasonable period of time.

Require police training in bike law — Massachusetts now requires that all police recruits complete a training program developed in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to ensure that eventually all officers will be well-versed in the rights and responsibilities of cyclists.

Explicitly ban dooring — Massachusetts has also made it a violation to open a car or truck door into a passing cyclist, or directly in the path a cyclist — accidently or otherwise.

In addition, most of these states have clarified the hard-to-define and frequently misunderstood requirement to ride as far to the right as practical with language that recognizes the need to take the lane when necessary to avoid obstacles or obstructions, or when the lane is too narrow to allow safe passing. And most require that drivers be educated in both the new laws and the rights of riders.

So which of these laws are right for a California Bike Safety Law?

All of them.

My suggestion would be to start with the Massachusetts law. Then add in provisions to ban harassment of cyclists, give riders in a bike lane the same protection as pedestrians in a crosswalk, ban blocking of bike lanes, and allow cyclists to ride through red lights that don’t change on their own after waiting a reasonable amount of time. And include the LACBC’s proposed Vulnerable User Law, as well.

Of course, you may be wondering if all this is really necessary. So ask yourself this. Are cyclists still getting harassed, injured and killed on our streets?

Then yes, it is.


Stephen and Enci Box are attempting to film without fossil fuel. Alex notes the Palms Neighborhood Council unanimously endorsed the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights. Metblogs says you could get a ticket for riding the wrong way on Speedway. West Hollywood clarifies the laws regarding riding on the sidewalk. San Diego cracks down on pedicabs after a tourist is killed. A Texas man is honored for giving over 4,000 bikes to underprivileged children. Bob Mionske discusses the Idaho Stop Law. Finally, Damien is asking for input designing a questionnaire for the candidates to replace Wendy Greuel in L.A.’s Council District 2, and Stephen Box notes the issues that will frame the debate and where you can meet the candidates. Because things won’t get better for cyclists in this city until we elect a government that makes it a priority.

L.A. has a bicycling community? Who knew?

Imagine my surprise. Here I’ve pictured myself a lonely voice crying in the bicycle wilderness, and it turns out I may not be so lonely after all.

As part of the continuing coverage of the July 4th Mandeville Canyon incident, KABC-7 did a follow-up report on yesterday’s evening news (thanks to laist.com for posting the link — if KABC has it online, they’re doing a damn good job of hiding it). As part of that report, they mentioned that L.A. city council member Bill Rosendahl has endorsed the Cyclist’s Bill of Rights.

Say what?

That sent my little fingers running to the Google, as our fearless leader calls it, which told me I could read all about it here. Not only did I discover an effort by my fellow cyclists to help keep us all safe and alive, I found out there is actually a community of writers focused on bicycling.

Obviously, I’ve got some reading to do. For instance, here’s a good post on California bike laws and road safety.

Meanwhile, this Cyclist’s Bill of Rights seems to make a lot of sense, and it beats the heck out of my best idea, which was to wear a jersey reading “Thank you for not killing me today.”

Personally, I’m fond of Nos. 3 & 4, based on my own personal experience (see my post from July 8, Road rage against the machine).  But the whole thing makes a great platform for future city planning, as well as giving cyclists a voice in the community, and — finally — the equal protection under the law even, yes, bicyclists are promised under the Constitution.

Frankly, I thought my rabble-rousing days were long over, but it looks like we’ve all got some politicking to do. You can contact the Mayor of Los Angeles here — just don’t expect anyone to actually get back to you (again, based on my own personal experience) — and you can find contact information for city council members here.

And if you ride Mandeville Canyon, don’t forget to attend Rosendahl’s Town Hall meeting on Monday, July 14 starting at 6:30p to discuss how bicyclists and residents can co-exist in the canyon. (Thanks to la.streetsblog.org for posting the notice, since even Rosendahl’s own website doesn’t make any mention of it yet.)


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