San Diegan Cyclists and California’s Vehicle Code 21202 (a)

California’s Vehicle Code 21202 (a) states:

CVC 21202
CVC 21202. Image from Njord Noatun

21202. (a)Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:

(1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.

(2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

(3) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a “substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

(4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

Amended Sec. 4, Ch. 674, Stats. 1996. Effective January 1, 1997.


San Diego cyclist, Andrew Wooley was cited for violating CVC 21202(a) on March 6th, 2009. Woolley’s citation was for failing to ride on the right-hand side of the road. At his hearing a few months ago in August, Woolley showed how the two exceptions to the vehicle code applied to him in this particular instance. The Judge agreed with Woolley and yet ruled that cyclists were required to ride on the curb line.

Woolley sent us a copy of his transcript [pdf] recently. He is currently appealing the ruling. We will keep you posted on what happens.

When I contacted District Council member Todd Gloria about this issue several months ago, his office responded stating the following:

Councilmember Gloria is aware of this issue and has been in touch with members of the cycling community, the San Diego Police Department, and the City Attorney’s office about it. The last we heard was the City Attorney’s office was working with SDPD to ensure that officers do not wrongly ticket cyclists. This was at the end of June. Has there been any further incidents of citations since the end of June? If so, I would be happy to follow up.

I have not heard about other citations issued regarding real or apparent violations of CVC 21202.

Meanwhile, BikeSD will keep on top of this case with Woolley and continue to keep you updated.