Yes, You Need a License to Ride a Bike in Los Angeles


Recently, cyclists are finding themselves being ticketed for not having a license on their bicycle.  This has lead to outrage in the community from some, the bicycle licensing laws are meant to help recover stolen bikes not harass the people on them, and confusion from others.  It seems a lot of people don’t even know they need to have a license for their bike in California.

Here’s the facts.  The California Vehicle Code allows municipalities to take part in a bike licensing program by either creating a voluntary program for cyclists or requiring every bike to have a registration picture as seen above.  Locally, at least the City of Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Long Beach all take place in the program by requiring bikes to be licensed.  If you’re not sure whether your municipality requires licenses, call the municipal building and ask.

The good news is that registering your bike is easy.  If you happen to live in Santa Monica, you can fill out this form, mail it in with a $3 check and they will mail you a license.  If you live in the City of Los Angeles, it’s a little trickier because you have to go to a station in person with valid ID and your bike to get a license.  The most popular place to get licensed is the central office at their Central District offices between 10:00 A.M. and 8 P.M. every Tuesday and Thursday.  The form is not available online for Los Angeles, but if you search long enough you can find a form for licensing a Bingo Hall.

In short, the law varies by municipality and even though the law states that you can’t be ticketed for not having a license if you’re not in your home town, many cops will ticket you anyway.  To avoid the fuss of getting a ticket overturned, I would recommend taking the time to get the license.

And who knows?  Maybe one day it will actually help get a stolen bike returned to you.

Photo: KIDD 240/Flickr via marino at Midnight Ridazz

  • Bob_Loves_Willies

     Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson go on a camping trip.  After a good dinner and a bottle of wine, they retire for the night, and go to sleep.
    Some hours later, Holmes wakes up and nudges his faithful friend. “Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.”
    “I see millions and millions of stars, Holmes” replies Watson.
    “And what do you deduce from that?”
    Watson ponders for a minute.  “Well, 
    Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful, and that we are a small and insignificant part of the universe. But what does it tell you, Holmes?”
    Holmes is silent for a moment.  
    “Watson, you idiot!” he says.  “Someone has stolen our tent!”  

  • Emu_oranges

    but watson then say “No, It was Courtenay” Dum Dum Dummmmmm

  • Bob_Loves_Willies

     Why do ducks have webbed feet?
    To stamp out fires.Why do elephants have flat feet?
    To stamp out burning ducks  

  • Emu_oranges

    and what do elephants use as tampons?       Sheeep! 

  • Emu_oranges


  • Rutitatu

    This is the end of freedom in the USA :(

  • This is from four years ago; the license requirement has since been repealed.

  • Matt

    Ummmm it costs nothing and it helps you get your bike back if it’s stolen due to them keeping the serial numbers of the frame on file.

  • The police already have access to widely used bike registries like NBR. There’s no need for the City to maintain its own separate licensing system, and no need to make it mandatory — especially considering that the City is powerless to compel non-residents to get a license.

  • Tombs31

    The reason for the law is so that a “pedestrian” is not endangered by a person operating a vehicle(bicycle). Every time I have seen a situation where a pedestrian and bicycle are in conflict the pedestrian has had to be the one to give way. Seems to me the person with the right-of-way would be the one not put out. The fact that you only see your side of this issue is an indication of why it is necessary. You probably cross the street in the “pedestrian” crosswalk as well, and get angry when a car comes squealing to a halt to avoid you. Bike riders seem to think they are the ones inconvenienced. As to the statement about sidewalk riding being legal, the absence of a law stating it is not legal does not make it legal, it just isn’t a state offense. For example, it is illegal to park on your lawn in Reseda, but no mention of in in the state laws.

  • Tombs31

    Really? For the very reason you stated. The reason is so that the name on the registration matches the rider. If they don’t match, you probably are looking at a thief riding a bicycle.


    Bike should all be registered in each city they are used in. The bike orders should have insurance as well in case of accidents. Helmet must be used at all times. There should be speed limits for bikes in certain areas and for certain bike and walking paths.

  • J

    Whats next register our shoes and feet get real man……This is pure crazyness they just want our money it has nothing to do with public safety.First of all bikes are different then a bicycle and speed limits……really.You want the to control your everyday life.This isnt England let alone that is restricting travel.The vehicle code is over stretching there power.So Timmy is 7 years old and needs a license to go to his friends house what a complete joke!!!!!!!

  • K10


  • Guest

    no i dont think a bicycle needs a License ive been riding my bike for over 34yrs and do you think i want to ride it everyday in the cold no but i do it anyway because ive never been pulled over ones or been ticketed by a cop cause look i follow bike rules everyday and if i see someone with a child or in a wheel chair then yes i will get off my bike and walk around them on a sidewalk then most people cause im not a reckless person but a nice person and if they want to apply this rule then they can give it to the reckless people then cause i dont need one

  • StevenWolf

    i see a lot of reckless people on bikes while they danger peoples life’s on a sidewalk that make me sick where they shouldn’t be allowed to own a bike but a license for that matter cause im a kind person where i would give up a sidewalk for anyone for having a child a baby or a wheel chair but want to have the same respect that i give back cause i dont want a license but want to see a law that requires you to wear a helmet where ever you go since i never see anyone wearing one because i would rather have mine then be dead

  • MarkStolzoff

    That’s arleady a law there dingleberry

  • MarkStolzoff

    “it helps you get your bike back if it’s stolen”

    It’s adorable you actually believe that

  • D Harlo

    I ride on the sidewalk when its not safe in the stree but I give peds the right of way always. I keep the speed relevant as well.

    Just because you run into one or two dumb asses on bikes, doesnt mean the millions of others are dumb asses too.

  • D Harlo

    Serial number get machined off and bikes get parted out. No getting a stolen bike back. Sorry.

    9/10 if your bike is stolen. Its gone for good

    My bike already has a registered serial number on many other places. FOR FREE

  • kristian

    Great article. Thanks for the info, very helpful. BTW, if anyone needs
    to fill out a “2012 CA FPPC Form 410, [Dec/2012]”, I found a blank form
    here: “” and also here “FPPC Form-410

  • Kurtis Engle

    Steve. Take a look at yourself. No capitalization No punctuation, unless it’s wrong. I do not believe you know what a sentence is.

    Consider seriously. If you don’t know how to write, why should anyone suppose you know anything else?

  • izraulhidashi

    I know this thread is old but some of the comments are funny as hell. There are truly idiots among us and some of them should be required to have a license just to post comments. lol.

  • izraulhidashi

    Lol. Is that a proposal for a “comment posting” license requirement? There are plenty of people with excellent writing & grammar skills, and yet, look at the content. Plenty of examples here. Surely you can’t think structural writing defines ones intelligence!?!

    The ability to understand implied communication, regardless of structure, is key. But even those well versed in the areas of legalese have trouble comprehending nonsense… lol.

  • izraulhidashi

    So basically, you hate America’s notion of freedom, and cringe at Constitutional values, or your implying that safety and licensing have effect on one another. lol.

    If licensing had anything to do with safety, half the Asians would be walking or taking the bus. License & registration is meant solely for vehicles in commerce (commercial purposes). Title 18 sect 31.

    So unless your delivering pizza on a bike, you don’t need a license or registration. And anything to the contrary would be an infringement on Constitutional rights & law. Supreme law tops the hierarchy of laws, then Federal, State, City and Municipal. No law, statute, ordinance or rule below can supersede above without lawful amendments thereto.

    Meaning, unless you believe the Constitution should be Amended to restrain your freedom, don’t try restraining others. And insurance? Really… what the fuck are you? An insurance salesman or politician?

  • Hav90o

    Fuck yeah. Two wheeled assholes want the same rights as cars, then pay up! Not just registration, how about insurance.

  • PAI

    [removed due to expletives]

  • Anonymous

    So…what you are saying is that if someone lives in city A…bikes to work in city B…and has to go thru cites C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K and L between A and B…That would mean the bike would have to be registered in EVERY ONE OF THOSE CITIES!!! You MUST be a left wing Democrat!!!!

  • Anonymous

    And your point is?

  • Anonymous

    The pedestrian has the right of way over a bicyclist.

    As for it being illegal to park on your lawn in Reseda…what does that have to do with STATE laws? Each county…in fact, each CITY can pass it’s own laws. It can be legal in the state, but, outlawed in a city by a city ordinance.

  • Anonymous

    You are required to have a light on your bicycle at night. Just like every vehicle.

  • Anonymous

    ::Does best fake police voice:: Ignorance of the law is no excuse.


Council Takes Aim at LA’s Bike Licensing Program

(Editor’s Note: This is the second in a five part series examining the five bike-related items on this Friday’s City Council Transportation Committee Agenda.  The first piece looked at the city’s bike sharing program while the second discussed the Bike Rider’s Bill of Rights.  If you want to join a group of cyclists traveling to […]
KIDD 240/Flickr via marino at Midnight Ridazz

Is LA Really Considering a Mandatory Bike Licensing Program?

Last month, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a motion instructing “the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation to develop recommendations for:  An effective mandatory or voluntary bicycle registration program, including outreach to retailers, schools, bicycle organizations, etc., to make registration readily available and to encourage people to record […]

Breaking News: LAPD Recommends Discontinuing Bike License Program

In a report to the City Council, Chief William Bratton of the LAPD recommends to the City Council the discontinuation of the wildly unpopular bicycle licensing programming and announces that the LAPD will no longer enforce bicycle licensing unless the Los Angeles City Council. That the Council would push for the implementation of this program […]

A reckless rider pleads guilty to assault with a deadly weapon. But does that say more about the city that charged him than the cyclists that ride there?

Yes, bike riders are subject to the same laws drivers are. Maybe Santa Monica police and prosecutors wanted to send that message loud and clear. Maybe they wanted to make an example of one reckless cyclist so other bicyclists would straighten up and ride right. But to do it, they slapped a reckless, red light […]