Biking Rules of the Road

Mill Valley is a cyclist's paradise. We all want to make sure every biker follows the rules. However, it is also important for car drivers to follow the rules and to avoid distracted driving. If we can educate and enforce driving rules, we believe all bikers and walkers and other drivers will be a lot safer. Education is key, so please review and share these cycling rules of the road.

Bicyclists' Code of Conduct

  • Never ride against traffic.
  • Ride as near to the right as practicable*.
  • Stop at stop signs and red lights*.
  • Honor others' right of way.
  • Use hand signals.
  • With traffic, ride single file.
  • Be predictable; don't weave.
  • Follow lane markings.
  • Don't needlessly block the road*.
  • Use lights at night.

*--Note that the two most common offenses of bicyclists are running stop signs, and groups of cyclists blocking the road.

1. Stop at stop signs/lights: Stop at all stop signs and red lights. If two vehicles arrive at an intersection at the same time, the vehicle to the right has the right of way. Politely indicate others' right of way with a hand gesture. For your own safety, never insist on your own right of way. Pedestrians always have the right of way. Your courtesy will be noticed and appreciated by other road users.

2. Group riding: a) The California Vehicle Code (CVC sec. 21202(a) and sec. 21750) states that bicyclists are entitled to the full width of the road for at least purposes of overtaking, left turns, avoiding obstacles, when approaching a place where a right turn is authorized, and when riding in a substandard width lane. Generally, it is prudent to stay as far to the right as practicable. When riding with others, do not block traffic, ride single file. Be aware of other road users at all times. b) When stopping for a stop sign in a group, queue up in small numbers and proceed when it is your turn, allowing other road users their right of way. The idea is to cross the intersection as safely and quickly as possible without testing the patience of other road users. Self-policing and courteous riding will go far.

Wear a helmet, bright clothing, and keep your bicycle in good working order. Helpful hint: Modern, good quality brakes along with good technique make stopping at stop signs much easier.

Bicyclists and any passengers under 18 years of age (including children in attached bicycle seats or in or on towed trailers), are required to wear a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet. This helmet must be labeled to show that it meets applicable safety standards.

Youngsters under the age of nine lack the physical and mental development to interact safely in a complex traffic environment.

Below is a summary of California Vehicle Code sections relating to bicycling, noting the exact statutory language references.


  • Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers. CVC 21200


  • Roadway: Bicyclists can ride wherever they want if they’re traveling at the speed of traffic. If traveling slower than the speed of traffic, they can still position themselves wherever in the lane is necessary for safety. The law says that people who ride bikes must ride as close to the right side of the road as safely practicable except under the following conditions: when passing, preparing for a left turn, avoiding hazards, if the lane is too narrow to share, or if approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.CVC 21202
  • Bicycle lanes: On a roadway with a bike lane, bicyclists traveling slower than traffic must use the bike lane except when making a left turn, passing, avoiding hazardous conditions, or approaching a place where a right turn is authorized. CVC 21208
  • Direction of travel: Bicyclists must travel on the right side of the roadway in the direction of traffic, except when passing, making a legal left turn, riding on a one-way street, riding on a road that is too narrow, or when the right side of the road is closed due to road construction. CVC 21650
  • Motorized bicycles: Motorized bicycles may not be used on trails, bike paths or lanes unless allowed by local authorities. CVC 21207.5
  • Bike path obstruction: No one may stop on or park a bicycle on a bicycle path. CVC 21211
  • Sidewalks: Individual cities and counties control whether bicyclists may ride on sidewalks. CVC 21206
  • Freeways: Bicycles (including motorized bicycles) may not be ridden on freeways and expressways where doing so is prohibited by the California Department of Transportation and local authorities. CVC 21960
  • Toll bridges: Bicyclists may not cross a toll bridge unless permitted to do so by the California Department of Transportation. CVC 23330


  • Brakes: Bicycles must be equipped with a brake that allows an operator to execute a one-braked-wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement. CVC 21201(a)
  • Handlebars: Handlebars must not be higher than the rider’s shoulders. CVC 21201(b)
  • Bicycle size: Bicycles must be small enough for the rider to stop, support it with one foot on the ground, and start safely. CVC 21201(c)
  • Lights: At night a white headlight visible from the front must be attached to the bicycle or the bicyclist. CVC 21201(d) and CVC 21201(e)
  • Reflectors: At night bicycles must have the following reflectors:
    • Visible from the back: red reflector
    • Visible from the front & back: white or yellow reflector on each pedal or on the bicyclist’s shoes or ankles
    • Visible from the side: 1) white or yellow reflector on the front half of the bicycle and 2) a red or white reflector on each side of the back half of the bike. These reflectors are not required if the bike has reflectorized front and back tires. CVC 21201(d)
  • Seats: All riders must have a permanent, regular seat, unless the bicycle is designed by the manufacturer to be ridden without a seat. Bicycle passengers weighing less than 40 lbs. must have a seat which retains them in place and protects them from moving parts. CVC 21204


  • Helmets: Bicyclists and bicycle passengers under age 18 must wear an approved helmet when riding on a bicycle. CVC 21212
  • Head phones: Bicyclists may not wear earplugs in both ears or a headset covering both ears. Hearing aids are allowed. CVC 27400
  • Alcohol and drugs: Bicyclists may not ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. CVC 21200.5
  • Hitching rides: Bicyclists may not hitch rides on vehicles. CVC 21203
  • Carrying articles: Bicyclists may not carry items which keep them from using at least one hand upon the handlebars. CVC 21205
  • Pedestrians: Bicyclists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians within marked crosswalks or within unmarked crosswalks at intersections. Bicyclists must also yield the right-of-way to totally or partially blind pedestrians carrying a predominantly white cane or using a guide dog. CVC 21950 and CVC 21963
  • Parking: Bicyclists may not leave bicycles on their sides on the sidewalk or park bicycles in a manner which obstructs pedestrians. CVC 21210