Sacramento Biking Laws: CA Traffic Laws, Safety Tips

A cyclist keeps her sweater close at hand as dark clouds roll in as she rides in the shadow of the CalSTRS headquarters building in West Sacramento on September 30, 2013.

A cyclist keeps her sweater close at hand as dark clouds roll in as she rides in the shadow of the CalSTRS headquarters building in West Sacramento on September 30, 2013.

The rules and responsibilities surrounding traffic laws in California are similar for motorists and bicyclists, but the stakes are much higher for those traveling on two wheels.

More than 100 cyclists die each year, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, and more than 10,000 are injured in collisions. In 2017, according to an earlier Bee report, Sacramento had the second-highest bicyclist fatality rate in the country.

The statistics have not stopped the large number of residents who ride bicycles throughout the city. However, it has created fear for some cyclists.

A Reddit user new to biking around town recently took his trivia about biker safety to the r/Sacramento Reddit forum. The resident said they were hit with a motorist’s door while traveling in a bike lane.

Experienced cyclists from Sacramento got together and shared tips that helped them travel safely around the city. The post received 51 comments and 21 “upvotes.”

Here are some tips The Bee thought were worth sharing:

  • Imagine every moving car is driven by someone who is playing on your phone and wants to hurt you (a bit harsh but effective)
  • Avoid busy streets, including J Street and L Street
  • “Hug the line” by riding in the bike lane but away from parked cars
  • Scan parked vehicles for moving heads or on parking lights

The sifted bee California DMV Driver’s Manual and the DMV website to collect useful information for both cyclists and motorists. Here’s what you need to know about bicycling safety tips, California bicycling and motoring laws, and Sacramento bicycling resources.

Safety tips for cyclists

Bicyclists should ride on high alert, according to the California DMV websiteand be ready to stop for motorists waiting at stop signs, driveways, or parking spaces.

Here are some more bike safety tips from the California DMV:

California Bicycle Laws

There are several California laws here, depending on the California DMV websitethat cyclists must follow:

  • Those under the age of 18 are legally required to wear a helmet while riding a bike.
  • Bicyclists must obey stop signs, red lights, and right-of-way rules
  • Bicyclists should not proceed through an intersection with a yellow light if the bicyclist cannot cross the roadway before the light turns red.
  • Bicyclists must use reflectors and lights at night.
  • It is illegal to ride a bike under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Safe driving for cyclists

The following list is for people who are new to driving or who need a refresher on sharing the road with bicyclists.

Here are the laws California motorists must follow, according to the California DMV Driver’s ManualAs far as cyclists are concerned:

  • A motorist approaching an intersection must yield to the motorcyclist if the motorcyclist arrives first.
  • A motorist’s speed must take into account bicyclists on highways
  • A motorist must yield to a motorcyclist on his right if the motorcyclist reaches the intersection at the same time as the motorist.
  • Motorists turning right should watch for bicyclists
  • Trailer vehicles, buses, and large trucks must slow down and travel at least three feet away from bicyclists.
  • Motorists must share the road with bicyclists inside roundabouts
  • Motorists approaching a roundabout must yield to bicyclists crossing the roadway
  • Motorists should watch for bicyclists near schools

Sacramento Resources for Bicyclists

If you are new to bicycling in Sacramento or looking to maximize your safety while riding, here are some resources from the City of Sacramento:

What do you want to know about life in Sacramento? Ask our California utility team your top questions in the module below or email

Sacramento Bee related stories

Profile picture of Brianna Taylor

Brianna Taylor is a reporter on the public services desk for The Sacramento Bee. Bee’s former intern Brianna also worked in Missouri and Maryland. She is a graduate of Morgan State University.

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