California Bike Laws You Need to Know 


Bicycles are given their section in California’s vehicle code. Some of these rules restrict what cyclists can and cannot do. Others recognize bikers’ rights concerning motorists. Others delegate authority to towns and counties to enact local bicycle ordinances. Violations of these statutes have ramifications. If you break them, the police can cite you, and if you or someone else is injured, you may be held partially or entirely liable for your injuries. For more information, schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney today. 

Bicycles in California 

A bicycle is defined in California’s vehicle code as a conveyance propelled by human force in conjunction with a belt, chain, or gears. Vehicles powered by animals or engines are not considered bicycles. Bicycles include all vehicles with more than one wheel. Bicycles in California, thus, include: 

  • Pedicabs 
  • Pedal cars 
  • Tricycles 
  • Unicycles 

Bicyclists are not required to register or insure their vehicles. Furthermore, bicycles do not require license plates, and bikers do not require driver’s licenses. 

California bicycle laws

Article four of California’s vehicle code governs bicycle operation. This page contains 18 laws that apply especially to bicycles and cyclists. However, bicycle laws can be found elsewhere in the California statute. The state also permits local governments, such as towns and counties, to enact rules impacting bike riders. 

E-bikes are bikes 

E-bikes are treated the same as ordinary bicycles in California. A battery and an electric motor propel E-bikes. Even though the definition of “bicycle” talks about human propulsion, California modified its law to provide e-bike users the same rights and obligations as traditional bike riders. There is one exception to this broad definition in California. The law categorizes e-bikes into three types: 

  • Class I e-bikes have a motor that helps the rider pedal up to 20 miles per hour before it disengages. 
  • Class II e-bikes contain a motor that propels the user up to 20 miles per hour without pedaling before disengaging.
  • Class III e-bikes have a speedometer and a motor that does not turn off until the speed reaches 28 miles per hour. 

Class I and II e-bikes are subject to the state’s bike legislation, whereas Class III e-bikes fall somewhere between bicycles and mopeds. To ride a Class III e-bike, riders must be at least 16 years old and wear a helmet. 

Mopeds are not bikes 

Although they have pedals, mopeds are not considered bicycles. Mopeds are propelled or assisted by an engine and transmission. As a result, they are more similar to motorcycles than bicycles. The state also restricts moped riders’ ability to use their vehicles. 

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