Can you park your car in a bike lane?

A car parked on the new Los Angeles St. bike lane. Taken on a Friday morning.

It’s been a little over a week since the installation of the new bike lanes on Los Angeles Street in downtown L.A.

Riding in from Echo Park, I usually take Los Angeles Street to get to work and back home every weekday, and so far the addition of these bike lanes have made my commute slightly more relaxing as I’m not competing for road space with drivers. However, when approaching Union Station before hitting Temple St., there seems to always be a slew of cars parked and stopped right on the bike lane in front of the Police Department building, red curb or not. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this section of the new bike lane clear, as cars are even parked on the lane overnight.

Within the span of three days, I sat in front of the Police Department building for a few hours each day to study how this obstruction was affecting cyclists who were using the new bike lane. During my observation, most cyclists were able to merge back safely into the normal traffic lane with the exception of one cyclist who was almost doored by the owner of one of the parked vehicles, and two cyclists who were almost hit by approaching traffic.

Concerned with cyclists’ safety and frustrated at the parked cars, I had approached an officer a few days ago, who was just walking out from his car to ask why he had parked on a bike lane, to which he responded, “You can go around it. I can park there if I need to.” Was he right? Later that afternoon, I went home to fact-check his statement. According to California’s Department of Motor Vehicle’s website, it states, “You may park in a bicycle lane if your vehicle does not block a bicyclist and/or there is not a “No Parking” sign posted.”

Was the officer in a sense not “blocking” a cyclist from continuing on the bike lane? What exactly is “blocking” a cyclist? Does that mean cars can park in bike lanes as long as they leave space for cyclists to turn and continue ahead?

What do you think readers?

Categories: Bicycle

28 replies

    • @Just a person,

      I’ve already e-mailed LAPD regarding this matter to their Media Relations section a few days ago. Hopefully, with a response, I can do a follow-up story.



  1. This is a good argument for the adding some barriers or a curb to the buffer area that is supposed to separate the cars from bikes (or in this case, to separate the cars from bikes when the cars find it not too inconvenient).


  2. Of course it’s not OK for anyone to park IN the bike lane. This is impeding traffic, something that anyone else could be cited for. It’s as if they parked across the sidewalk, blocking pedestrians from using it as it’s intended. I suppose if they were on the sidewalk the response would be pedestrians could walk around.

    This is not acceptable, but it sounds like its a legal gray area.