California’s New Bicycle Lane Change Law

Cyclists come from all over the U.S. to ride the beautiful routes in Southern California and along the coast through Ventura County. The crazy levels of SoCal traffic provide the only drawback for riders.

Thankfully, a new traffic law helps give some breathing room to cyclists who must share the lanes with cars, SUVs, and Trucks. The traffic code forces motorists to switch lanes when they have the room to give riders the space to pedal safely.

California’s New Bike Lane Changing Law

A transformative California bicycle lane change law hit the books on January 1, 2023. It asks California motorists approaching or overtaking a cyclist to switch to a different lane if it’s open. The addition to existing vehicle codes was approved in 2022.

California AB 1909 says that motorists must move to an adjacent lane of traffic if the other lane is free. It’s a common-sense measure that safely puts more room between motorists and vulnerable cyclists. When another lane isn’t available, drivers are instructed to slow down and only pass when there’s room.

The code already states that drivers must only pass a cyclist if they can give them at least three feet of space as they go around.

A Southern California Cyclist’s Right to the Lane

More and more streets and boulevards are lined with bike lanes, making the lane change unnecessary, but in some cases, this new law is a major stride forward.

California cyclists may travel in car lanes and have a right to those lanes just like any driver in certain situations. California Vehicle Code 21202 says that riders can “take the lane” under several circumstances.

  • When passing.
  • When readying for a left turn.
  • When steering clear of an obstacle.
  • When the lane is too narrow to share with a vehicle.
  • When cyclists are traveling as fast as motor-vehicle traffic.

Otherwise, when bike lanes aren’t present, cyclists are expected to ride as close to the right side of the road as they safely can. Motorists are still expected to extend a “duty of care” to all riders due to their unprotected nature when struck by a car. They must slow down whenever they would have to get too close to a bicyclist to pass.

Support for Southern California Cyclists Who Have Been in an Accident

California’s new lane change law is a great step towards keeping cyclists safer on Ventura County streets and across Southern California. We live in a beautiful region of California with amazing weather and riders should be able to enjoy their trips without constantly fearing for their safety.

No law or safety lanes can completely erase the dangers that careless and reckless drivers pose to riders. When cyclists are struck by a driver distracted by a cell phone, by a speeding driver, or by a driver who is overly aggressive, it’s important to come to the defense of the victim. Cyclists should get the best care available to give them the best chance at returning to their bikes as soon as possible. They should also be able to count on car insurance companies providing that financial support to pay every bill that arises in recovery.

Contact Quirk Accident & Injury Attorneys, APC for a free consultation and case analysis if you or a loved one are forced into a bicycle collision. We want to learn more about how a careless driver’s mistake has impacted your life. If you retain us to represent you for your wrongful death case, our goal will be to obtain the maximum compensation available for what you’ve been through. You won’t need any upfront money to hire us. We don’t get paid unless we win your case for you.