Vehicle Code 21209 VC - Driving on a Bike Lane in California
California Vehicle Code 21209 VC is the statute that prohibits motorists from driving their vehicle on a bicycle lane but with some exceptions. For example, you can drive on a bike lane to park your car, enter or leave a road, or prepare for a turn at an intersection.
Suppose you are cited for violating VC 21209. In that case, you will be fined $238 and receive one point on your DMV driving record. If you accumulate too many points, you might get a negligent operator license.
This law is designed to help protect cyclists by prohibiting motorists from driving on designated bike lanes. This statute does not prohibit using motorized bicycles in bike lanes, but they must drive at a safe speed under the circumstances.
A ticket for driving in a bike lane is an infraction, meaning it's not considered a crime that could result in jail time unless you are convicted of VC 40508 failure to appear in court for the traffic citation.
VC 21209 says, “(a) No person shall drive a motor vehicle in a bicycle lane established on a roadway under Section 21207 except as follows:
(1) To park where parking is permitted.
(2) To enter or leave the roadway.
(3) To prepare for a turn within a distance of 200 feet from the intersection.
(b) This section does not prohibit the use of a motorized bicycle in a bicycle lane, pursuant to Section 21207.5, at a speed no greater than is reasonable or prudent, having due regard for visibility, traffic conditions, and the condition of the roadway surface of the bicycle lane, and in a manner which does not endanger the safety of bicyclists.”
Driving on a Bike Lane - Quick Facts
There are some essential facts you should know about California Vehicle Code 21209 VC driving on a bike lane law, such as the following:
- It's illegal for motor vehicles to drive in designated bike lanes marked by solid white lines, pavement markings, and signage.
- The primary purpose of this law is to protect cyclists by giving them a separate space on the road.
- This law allows exceptions for motorists in the bike lane.
- Motorists can be on a bike lane when entering or leaving the roadway, preparing to make a right turn within 200 feet of the intersection, and when they enter or leave a parking space.
- This law permits motorized bikes to use the bike lane with conditions.
- Motorized bikes in bike lanes must operate at a reasonable and prudent speed and not travel in a way that threatens other cyclists.
- Local ordinances on motorized bicycles in a bike lane may vary.
What Are the Related Laws?
California has several laws related to Vehicle Code 21209, driving in a bike lane, including the following:
- Vehicle Code 21208 VC – riding bikes in bike lanes;
- Vehicle Code 21202 VC – bicyclist riding on the right side of the road;
- Vehicle Code 21755 VC – unsafe passing on the right;
- Vehicle Code 21211 VC – obstructing a bicycle lane;
- Vehicle Code 20001 VC – felony hit and run causing injury or death;
- Vehicle Code 20002 VC – misdemeanor hit and run.
What Are the VC 21209 Penalties?
Suppose you violate Vehicle Code 21209 VC by diving on a bike lane. In that case, you are facing the following penalties:
- The standard fine per violation is $238.
- Each violation is worth one point on your DMV record.
- The DMV records your points for up to three years. If you accumulate too many points, you could be designated as a negligent driver, and your driver's license will be suspended but would require a California DMV hearing.
- Points are reported to your insurance carrier, which may cause your premiums to increase.
- You will not be required to attend traffic school.
- If you injured a bicyclist due to reckless driving in a bike lane, you could face a personal injury lawsuit to recover financial compensation for damages.
What Are the Legal Defenses?
Suppose you are cited for violating Vehicle Code 21209 and disagree with the citation. In that case, you could contest the infraction as discussed below.
Maybe we can argue it was necessary or that there was an emergency. Maybe you were attempting to avoid a hazard or obstacle in the roadway. Perhaps you swerved to avoid a collision ahead of you. Possibly, we can argue your actions were necessary to ensure your safety or the safety of others.
Maybe we can argue there was a lack of proper signage. Perhaps the bike lane was not clearly marked, or the signs were obstructed, and you were unaware of the bike lane's presence. Maybe we can argue that you qualify for an exception. Contact our law firm for a free case evaluation. Cron, Israels & Stark has offices in Los Angeles, CA.