Though it does not top the list of the most bike-friendly cities in the world, San Francisco is one of the best cities in California to pedal yourself from point A to point B. That said, if you do plan to make your bike your main mode of transportation, you should brush up on SF’s bike laws. The SF Bicycle Coalition is the leading resource for street safety in the Bay Area and provides an expansive overview of bicyclists’ rights and responsibilities.
When biking the streets of SF, you must be on the lookout for pedestrians and give them the right of way when they cross your path. Pedestrians do not have to be in the crosswalk to enjoy this right. If you do approach and stop at a crosswalk, you must stop behind the line and leave the crosswalk clear for pedestrians.
SF considers bicycles vehicles. Because of this, bicyclists must adhere to the same traffic signals and laws as drivers of motor vehicles. This means you must obey red lights, stop at stop signs and abide by other signs and signals. You must also ride in the same direction as traffic and, if you are older than 13, you must ride on the streets. If you find yourself on the wrong block of a one-way street, you can walk your bike along the sidewalk, but in no other instance can you take your bike on the sidewalk.
Though you should ride in the bike lane whenever possible, you may leave the bike lane if you feel it is safer to do so. For instance, if you are next to a parked car or if your lane is narrow, you may take the lane. Just be sure to signal your intention to move over and merge only when safe.
California law requires you to use reflectors and a front white light when riding. If using headphones, you must keep one ear free.
When passing on a bike, you must pass on the left. This is the case even though bike lanes are often situated on the right side of the road.
You should not use this article as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.