California Bicycle Laws & Crash Help


The California Vehicle Code (VEH) contains the state laws that specify where and how bikes must operate. For the most part, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers. (VEH 21200).

There are some specific rules. Below, for your benefit, we summarize the key sections of the law that relate to cycling.

Father and daughter bike path

Be Prepared

Do these things today, before a crash.

bicycle safety stop

Get uninsured motorist insurance.

Uninsured motorist coverage pays your medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, and pain and suffering. It is applied to losses in the past and into the future. If someone hits you and they have no insurance, too little insurance to cover your damages, or if they hit and run or the car is stolen, your uninsured motorist insurance covers you! It covers you on a bike, in a car, or on foot. It is indispensable.

Own a car? State law requires it to be insured. Look at your declaration page (it comes with the packet you get from your insurance company). There should be a section entitled Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist. This amount cannot be less than your liability amount (the amount that applies if you are at fault). UM only covers you if the other driver is at fault, so it is non-chargeable. That means it is not available to you if you are at fault. And your rates should not go up for invoking it.

Don’t have a car? Many insurance companies offer non-operators’ policies. That means you can have insurance, even if you do not own a car. Progressive sells a non-operator’s UM/UIM policy up to $100,000. State Farm up to $250,000. And AAA up to $500,000. This list is inclusive, not exclusive. There may be others as well. And it is no endorsement, but you cannot have too little insurance. If you can afford the $500,000, get it. If you own a home you likely have homeowners insurance. That makes you eligible for an umbrella policy. Ask your broker about a Combined Single Limit policy into which you can fold excess coverage from your UM/UIM policy. That may qualify you for even more coverage. You cannot be over-insured. $1,000,000 is not unreasonable. $2,000,000 is not unreasonable. $5,000,000 is not unreasonable. It helps.

Program your phone with your emergency contacts. 

If you have a smartphone, ensure that your health ID information is set up and current. You can also make a photo for your lock screen that includes emergency contact info.

Add local emergency dispatch numbers to your phone for the cities or counties in which you regularly ride.

In some municipalities, using a cell phone to call 911 can route your call to the California Highway Patrol, which can add critical minutes to first responders’ arrival time. You can easily find the direct number for any municipality’s dispatch with a quick internet search.


Enter your name and email to download CalBike’s handy crash card. Carry it with you on your bike for reference in the unlikely event of a crash.


  • Take a deep breath and regain your calm. You’ll be full of adrenaline, but check yourself for injuries & seek medical help if you have any doubts.
  • Call 911 to get the police to come.
  • Tell the driver to stay. If they won’t, get a description of car and the license plate. Take pictures if you can.
  • Get the name and contact information of witnesses. Ask them to stay until the police come if they can.
  • Exercise your right against self-incrimination; don’t tell anyone the collision was your fault.
  • Remain at the scene until police arrive and request the officer files a report and request a copy.
  • Call an attorney – some are listed above.