Rules of the road

The Bay Area is a great place to explore by bicycle. Whether you’re an experienced rider or new to urban cycling, here are bike laws to follow and riding tips to help you feel more comfortable and confident.

Plan a sensible route

From shared traffic lanes to car-free greenways, choose a route that suits your comfort level. Use the mobile app to map out a route to your destination, and we’ll show you the safest route using bike lanes whenever possible.


Pre-ride check

Before you start a ride: adjust the seat to fit your height, squeeze the brakes to make sure there’s resistance and check the tires to make sure they’re not flat. If there’s a problem with the bike, just lock it up and hit the red “wrench” button on the dock or report in the app, then choose a different bike.

Wear a helmet

All Bay Wheels users are encouraged to wear a helmet while riding. Make sure yours fits snugly, wear it level on your head and always buckle the chin strap. Find helmet discounts and more here.

Obey traffic signals

The same laws apply to bicycles as to motor vehicles in California – including obeying all traffic lights and signs.


Ride with traffic

Bicyclists are required by law to ride in the same direction as cars, and must use a bike lane when available. If you’re in a narrow bike lane or feel unsafe riding on the right side of the roadway, you’re allowed to take the full lane of traffic to avoid the door zone and other obstructions.

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Stay off sidewalks

Rules about riding on sidewalks are governed by individual cities/counties, but it's always best to walk bikes on the sidewalks and yield to pedestrians.


Yield to pedestrians

Like drivers of motor vehicles, bicyclists must yield the right of way to pedestrians when the law requires it, such as at crosswalks and intersections. If you have the right of way, use your bell to alert pedestrians of your presence when necessary.

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Use hand signals

Bicyclists are required to use hand signals to let drivers and other cyclists know where they’re going. Stick your left arm straight out to indicate a left turn. For a right turn, extend your right arm straight out, or raise your left arm and bend it upward at the elbow. To stop, hold your left hand by your side pointing toward the ground.

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Never ride distracted

Don’t text and ride! Pull over if you have to send a message or talk on the phone. It is also illegal to ride with two headphones in; one is permitted, but it’s always safer to ride without any. Being aware and predictable reduces the chance of an accident.