One of the benefits of living in California is the temperate weather found year round, especially during the summer months when bicyclists and scooter riders can be seen on our roadways on a daily basis. The California legislature has enacted laws to ensure the protection and safety of bicyclist and scooter riders. This section of the circular will answer some frequently asked questions regarding statutes that govern bicycle and scooter safety found in the California Vehicle Code (CVC).
Do I have to wear a helmet when I ride a bicycle?
If you are under 18 years of age, you must wear a helmet (21212 CVC). A bicycle helmet should sit low on the forehead, just above the eyebrows. It should fit snugly and the two side plastic pieces on the straps should fit just under the ears. The buckle should be just under the chin, with one finger’s width of space between the strap and chin. The helmet must always be buckled while riding. The helmet should not move more than one-half inch in any direction.
Can I ride my bicycle on the sidewalk or do I have to ride on the street? If I do ride my bicycle on the street, what side should I ride on?
Bicyclists are permitted to ride on sidewalks which are designated by the Director as a part of the City bike route system and which are identified for such use by appropriate signs giving notice thereof. A bicyclist using a sidewalk as authorized by this subsection shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian using the sidewalk. (10.12.010 EGMC)
If you ride your bicycle on the street, you must ride in the same direction as the flow of traffic and as close as practicable to the right side of the roadway.
Can I be arrested for Driving-Under-the-Influence (DUI) on a bicycle?
It is a misdemeanor to operate a bicycle on a highway while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug (21200.5 CVC).
Can a passenger ride on my handlebars or stand on the rear axle of my bicycle?
A passenger can only ride on a bicycle when it is equipped with a separate, permanently affixed seat (21204b CVC).
Scooter Safety (Self-Powered)
Do I have to wear a helmet when I ride a self-powered scooter?
Wearing a helmet is not required by law, but it is highly recommended.
Can I ride my self-powered scooter on the sidewalk or do I have to ride on the street?
Scooter riders are permitted to ride on sidewalks; however, it is an infraction to do so in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. Additionally, the CVC classifies self-powered scooter riders as pedestrians, so all laws that pertain to pedestrians on the roadway also apply to scooter riders.
Scooter Safety (Motorized)
Do I have to wear a helmet when I ride a motorized scooter?
All motorized scooter riders must wear a bicycle helmet (21235c CVC). A bicycle helmet should sit low on the forehead, just above the eyebrows. It should fit snugly and the two side plastic pieces on the straps should fit just under the ears. The buckle should be just under the chin, with one finger’s width of space between the strap and chin. The helmet must always be buckled while riding. The helmet should not move more than one-half inch in any direction.
Can I ride my motorized scooter on the sidewalk or do I have to ride it on the street? If I do ride my scooter on the street, what side should I ride on?
It is illegal to ride a motorized scooter on the sidewalk (21235e CVC). A motorized scooter must be ridden as close as practicable to the right side of the roadway (21228a CVC) and only on a highway with a posted speed limit no greater than 25 miles per hour (mph), unless operating in a bicycle lane (21235b CVC).
Is there a minimum age to ride a motorized scooter?
It is illegal for any person under the age of 16 years to operate a motorized scooter (21235d CVC).
Is there a speed limit for the operation of motorized scooters?
It is illegal to operate a motorized scooter in excess of 15-mph (22411 CVC).
Parking for People with Disabilities
The California Legislature has created laws to assist people with disabilities by providing them with preferred parking. People who are disabled often have limited mobility; therefore, it is imperative to honor parking spaces reserved for people with disabilities. The following are infractions that are enforceable on an Absentee Citation, which is commonly referred to as a "Parking Ticket":
Additionally, it is a misdemeanor for any person to commit the following:
4461(b) CVC No person issued a disabled person’s placard may lend the placard to any other person for use, except for the purpose of transporting the disabled person to whom the placard was issued.
4463(b) CVC Forge or counterfeit a disabled person’s placard.
- 4463(c) CVC Display a forged or counterfeited disabled person’s placard.
NHTSA Safety Message
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) would like to remind everyone about the importance of safe driving during the summer months when vacation travel is most prevalent. This is the peak time for deaths and injuries resulting from traffic collisions on our nation’s roads and highways, and everyone needs to take extra care.
The NHTSA has a DOT Auto Safety Hotline available as a highway safety resource to the general public. Suspect safety defects in vehicles, vehicle equipment, and child safety seats can be reported to the Hotline. Also, information is available on air bags, highway safety, and proper use of child safety seats. The Hotline can be reached by dialing 1-888-327-4236 or through the Internet atwww.nhtsa.dot.gov/hotline.
Remember, never leave children or animals in a vehicle on hot days as they are very susceptible to heat stroke and death under those conditions. Also, always buckle up and ensure that child safety seats are used properly at all times. The season for highway safety is year round.
Daily Traffic Mission
It is the responsibility of all motorists and pedestrians to observe all traffic laws as described in the California Vehicle Code; the daily mission of uniformed officers is to ensure the safe movement of traffic and enforce the Primary Collision Factors (PCF) that cause traffic collisions. The top five causes of collisions are speed violations, red light violations, right-of-way violations, pedestrian violations, and driving-under-the-influence (DUI).
It is the responsibility of every uniformed officer to enforce the violations of the California Vehicle Code, educate citizens on the importance of traffic safety, and make every effort to remove alcohol-impaired drivers from City streets. These efforts, combined with the active participation of community members following the rules of the road, will help ensure the safety of motorists and pedestrians throughout the City.
Public Roadway Use of Motorcycles, Scooters, Mopeds and Similar Devices
View Public Roadway Use Brochure