Cell Phones and Bicycles

At a stop sign I noticed 2 guys on their bicycles talking on the phone. So that raised some questions in my head since here in California, you can get cited for talking on your cell while driving a car. Since bicycles are considered to be “vehicles” I figured the same rule applies to people in bikes.

With that being said, I contacted my friend who is an LAPD Officer, to ask about it. Here’s what he said, “Yes bikes must follow the same rules as cars on the road.”

However, the California Vehicle Code [VC] §23123 states its for “motor vehicle”, now I’m wondering if the bicycle is loop hole because its technically not a “motor vehicle.”

Can someone who understands the law better than I explain this to me?


  1. Elizabeth

    I hope a Chicago law officer jumps in on this one, too, to explain if the cell phone ban pertains to cyclists.

    Personally, I don’t see how a cyclist can be in control of their bike while talking on a cell phone (at least without a hands-free device). Personally, with all the hazards out there, I like to have both my hands ready to apply the brakes and hold on for dear life. 😉

  2. Ghost Rider

    In the CVC, even if you were ticketed by a cop for riding while celling, you’d have a STRONG defense due to the wording of the applicable code. You may be a vehicle, but unless “motor vehicle” includes meat motors, you’d have a damn good chance in court.

    Still, celling and riding seems like a bad idea…I have a friend who does it all the time, and he seems pretty comfortable doing it, but I still cringe.

  3. MikeOnBike

    CVC 21200 gives cyclists the rights and duties of drivers of *vehicles*.

    CVC 23123 applies to drivers of *motor* vehicles.

    Therefore, 23123 doesn’t apply to cyclists.

    A lot of people (police officers included) often miss the distinction between vehicles and motor vehicles.

  4. chiggins

    Personally, I don’t see how a cyclist can be in control of their bike while talking on a cell phone (at least without a hands-free device).

    Check out Amsterdamize. Any picture that shows more than 3 bikes usually has at least one of them riding along, helmetless no less, talking on a cellphone.

    Of course, no one’s trying to kill them, so there’s that.

  5. Eric

    There’s also:
    CVC 21205. No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle or article which prevents the operator from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars.

    So only talk on one cell phone at a time on your bicycle… That law could possibly get you in trouble for texting, dialing or anything else that requires using both hands while cycling, though…

  6. dukiebiddle

    It seems so often there is a room for broad interpretation as to whether we are required to follow the same rules as motor vehicles, and that drives me a little batty. I wish the laws defining bicycle road use were more clearly delineated.

    chiggins, I can’t say I agree with our northern European brethren who constantly argue in support of bicycling while distracted. It drives me batty when people yammer on those things while shopping in grocery stores. They always seem to bump into me with their carts. Unless there is some credible argument showing that cyclists navigate better with those things in their ears than shoppers navigating grocery carts, I’ll continue to respectfully disagree with them.

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  8. lorenzo from France

    In France, It cost 22 euro if you call someone with your cellphone when you ride your bike !

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