White light, flash light, red light, no light

Under California law,  cyclists are required to have a red reflector visible from the rear when operating the bike at night. Those of you riding in darkness with a 200 lumen tail light without a rear reflector are in violation of CVC 21201.


Last week, Assembly member Kansen Chu from San Jose amended AB 28 to allow flashing or steady red lights in lieu of reflectors.

You might recall this bill infamously began life as an attempt to require flashing white tail lights.  The California Bicycle Coalition and the California Association of Bicycle Organizations both used AB 28 as an opportunity to reach out to Chu’s office.  The result is this much more sensible bill.

Read more recent amendments (there are several) at 2015 California bicycle legislation Spring update.


  1. I have wheel reflectors, one in the back, a tail light, a back helmet light, two headlights at different angles, a helmet headlight in a five light fan, and EL wire wrapping my bike’s frame. I also tend to rock out an offensively reflective jacket at night. I still want more. I used to have twelve different lights on my bike, then people stole some. Now my focus is having lights I can easily remove or ones that cannot easily be stolen (like EL wire).

    I remember Richard recently posted on this blog about some awesome unstealable lights I wanted to check out.

    All the lights in the world won’t help some drivers, but it at least they give me some defense in court if I were to be hit and was lucky enough to live. Oakland is really teaching me about safety in numbers, and about how Oakland needs more cyclists – it’s scary with poor bike infrastructure and low cyclist density. It also makes me miss SF at times.

  2. Mitchell, the advocacy group Transport Oakland is hosting a happy hour tonight (April 28th) with Oakland’s new Transportation Policy Director Matt Nichols.


    It’s a good opportunity to speak with him about what you think Oakland should be doing to make bicycling around the city easier and safer, especially ahead of the Mayor’s budget proposal coming out in a couple days which we hope will have a new focus on transportation issues.

    Also check out https://BikeEastBay.org/campaigns for info on various Oakland bikeway efforts, as well as others around the East Bay.

  3. Thanks for the heads up about the event. I had not heard about it yet. Unfortunately I work until 8pm tonight. I’ll try to keep an eye out for future events. I read an article that interviewed Matt recently, he seems to really have his head in the right place.

    I’ll check out BikeEastBay as well, thanks!

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