The short answer is no, but that’s not exactly what the law says. Under California law, CVC 21960, Caltrans (state department of transportation) is given the authority to prohibit the use of freeways to bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles, as well as local jurisdictions such as counties and cities. The only restriction to this system is that a city or county can’t unban bikes on any section that  Caltrans bans them.

In the LA metro area, there are few—if any—sections of freeways that are open to bicycles. In the entire state’s 4,000 miles of freeways, only around 1,000 of these are open to bicycles. Most of the 1,000 miles are out in some of the desert region and farm county where access to certain towns are limited.

Why are Bikes Allowed on any of California’s Freeways?

In Los Angeles, it makes sense to ban bikes because of safety issues. However, the idea behind the law is to allow bikes access to areas that there is little if any access for cyclists without opening up the freeway. In LA, there are plenty of streets, bike lanes, bike paths, and trails for cyclists to get around the city.

Which Freeways are Allowed?

For the whole state, a group called California Association of Bicycling Organizations lists the open freeway sections on their website, and they are also listed on Caltrans website. The majority of these sections are in Southern California in desert regions where there are many open areas with few roads or highways.

How can I tell whether or not I can ride on a freeway?

At each onramp where bicycles are not allowed will be a sign that says “Bicycles Prohibited” and while riding on allowed sections, a cyclist must exit if he or she sees a sign that says “Bicycles Must Exit.” Failure to do so may result in a fine.

Where on the Freeway Can I Ride?

When you are allowed to ride on the freeway, keep in mind the cars will probably be going much faster than they are in the city because of the open roads. This actually makes riding on the freeways in rural areas more dangerous.

The law allows the cyclist to ride on the right-hand shoulder which should be 10 feet. The law also allows the cyclist to pass an object or parked car on the left if it’s safe to do so. This allows the cyclist to move on the right side of the far-right lane just long enough to pass an object that would present a danger to the cyclist.

Bike Safety

Some freeway riding tips to keep you safe if you decide to venture on the freeways.

Know the law: Know where you can ride and where you can’t ahead of time so you don’t get stuck somewhere and can’t get on the freeway.

Be Prepared: Water is a must. Don’t just take a single bottle, take some extra in case you are stuck out in the sun for hours. Food for energy is smart too.

  • First Aid: Take a simple first aid kit so you can treat yourself if you need.
  • Tool Kit: Wrenches and a screwdriver and a tire repair kit is a must.
  • Common Sense: This is your best friend. If something doesn’t seem safe, good chances it’s not.
  • Take a Friend: Two are better than one. If one’s injured, then the other can go get help. Also, hopefully, common sense will work a bit better with two.

Contact a Los Angeles Bicycle Law Attorney

At Los Angeles Bicycle Law, we concentrate our practice solely on bicyclists who have been injured as a result of the carelessness and negligence of others. We’re dedicated and effective Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyers. If you were injured in a bicycle accident in or around Los Angeles or anywhere else in Southern California, contact us right away for a confidential free consultation and case review.