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California's Biking Laws


Bikers love Santa Barbara. We’ve got trails along the beach and paths throughout the city. We know the students in Goleta love biking, too. However, unlike driving, there’s no test for bikers to learn the rules of the road. Here’s our helpful guide to biking in Santa Barbara, so you know the laws that may impact you.

California Vehicle Code

The state’s laws related to bikes are found in the California Vehicle Code. Bicyclists have many of the same rights as ordinary motorists. Still, there are some specifics you should know.

Where to Ride?

If you are riding as fast as the traffic, you are entitled to ride anywhere on the road, even if there is a bike lane. If you are slower than traffic, then you should ride as close to the right side of the road as possible except if you are passing or getting ready to take a left turn. If there is a bike lane and you are moving slower than the traffic, you should use that.

Electric Bikes

If you are using an electrically powered bike, it should be allowed anywhere a standard bike is, as long as the top speed is not higher than 20 mph unless expressly prohibited.

Santa Barbara Specifics

While most laws concerning bicyclists are determined on the state level, the vehicle code does leave room for cities and counties to make decisions as well. In Santa Barbara specifically, you are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk, and you must get a license and registration of your bike with the city.

Cycling Under the Influence

Just like driving a car, it is illegal to operate your bike under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If convicted, the maximum fine is $250. This may not seem like much of a punishment, but you would also have a misdemeanor on your record and could see prosecution for other crimes like public intoxication. In some cases, this charge can be dismissed easily with an experienced lawyer.

Need help with your case? The lawyers at Appel & Morse have over thirty years of legal experience and can offer you a free consultation. Give us a call at (805) 467-6060 or fill out an online contact form.

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