The law in California states that you can ride anywhere you want in the roadway if you are traveling at the same speed as the surrounding traffic (or faster). So, if you are going 35 mph in a 35 mph area, you can travel in the main lane and take as much space as you need. The drivers around you should give you space and avoid getting too close to you.
If you can’t keep up with traffic, then you need to “take the lane.” This means that you need to ride close to the right side of the road, but you can move over into the middle if the lane is too narrow for you to ride next to another vehicle.
Many drivers don’t understand that cyclists have as much right of way as they do in the lane. Bicycles are vehicles just the same as cars or trucks, and they largely have the same laws and restrictions that apply to them. If a driver doesn’t give a cyclist enough space, the likelihood is that the cyclist will be able to make a claim if they get into a crash as a result.
Do cyclists have to use a bike lane?
No. This is what most drivers don’t understand. Cyclists don’t have to use a bike lane if they are traveling at the same speed as traffic. If the bike lane is a “protected” lane that separates from the main roadway, cyclists can opt to stay on the main roadway instead of taking the separated lane.
Our site has more information about your rights as a cyclist if you have been hit because of asserting your right to ride where you wish.