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Top 5 Rules for Riding on the Sidewalk

by Commute by Bike

The subject of riding bikes on the sidewalks continues to be a hotly debated topic. Despite your stance on the subject, the fact remains that it’s going to happen, so I want to share the top five rules that must be followed when choosing the sidewalk over the road.

Fear is, by far, the biggest motivator for choosing the sidewalk over roads.

Some commuters refuse to ride in the road no matter where they are. While I’ve addressed this subject, many people aren’t comfortable exercising their right to the road and want the perceived safety of riding on the sidewalk.

There are also other riders (me included) that ride the road 99% of the time, but will hop on the sidewalk in certain instances like a long climb on a two lane road or going around blind turns where the danger of getting hit by a car goes way up.

But before you choose to ride on the sidewalk, there are a couple things to consider…

  • It’s illegal - The law in most areas of the country require bicycles to follow the same rules of the road as other motor vehicles. In essence, riding your bike down the sidewalk is the same as if you hopped the curb and started rolling it in your car.
  • It’s dangerous – Riding the sidewalk has it’s own set of dangers that many people never think about. Getting right hooked, cars pulling out of driveways, hitting pedestrians, etc are all things that have to be carefully watched for.

I’m in no way encouraging you to break the law or put yourself in danger, but if you do decide to ride your bike on the sidewalk, following these five rules and will greatly reduce your chance of getting a ticket or getting hurt.

  1. GO SLOW – This is the chief of all rules for riding on the sidewalk. All the other rules fall under this one. You should never ride faster than a relaxed jog. The sidewalk is built for pedestrians, so you should not be going faster than them. Pedaling fast down the sidewalk is a perfect way to get hurt, hurt someone else, or get pulled over by a cop.
  2. Yield to pedestrians – If you come up behind people walking, be very polite and wait for a good time to ask them to let you pass. Never come up behind them yelling, ringing a bell or anything else that could startle or scare them. You are trespassing on their terrain so be courteous.
  3. Check every cross street and driveway – This is the dangerous part! Drivers are used to pulling all the way up to the road before coming to a stop and turning onto the street you’re following. Make sure when coming up to a driveway or cross street that you slow down and check to make sure a car isn’t coming. They aren’t looking for fast moving vehicles to be coming off the sidewalk, so you have to be watching for them!
  4. Only cross the street at crosswalks – A good way to get hit by a car is to come darting off the sidewalk into the street randomly. Again, remember that drivers aren’t looking for people to jump off the sidewalks into traffic randomly. If you need to cross the street, wait until you get to a cross walk and do it there.
  5. Be willing to walk your bike – If you regularly ride on the sidewalk, there are going to be lots of times where the best decision is to get off your bike and walk for a bit. This is usually due to congestion. When there are just too many people around that you risk hitting one of them, it’s time to walk. Constantly keep it in your mind that you can get off your bike and walk if things seem “iffy”.

If there’s ever a time that you decide it’s better to ride on the sidewalk than the street, follow these rules to stay safe and avoid a ticket.

Photo Credit: moriza

 
The Chariot Summer Sale - 2013

124 Responses to “Top 5 Rules for Riding on the Sidewalk”

  1. Johnny says:

    Great post! It’s a tricky subject, but these are good guidelines.

  2. jamesmallon says:

    Another rule is to respong to your geography. The are only two places I tend to use sidewalks: along four-lane suburban roads, where I’ll get creamed, but there are few to no pedestrians on the sidewalk for me to bother; on some uphill sections where the cars won’t give me a break. Uphill, I am going no speed to endanger anyone.

  3. Deetso says:

    Ill start off by saying I agree with your recommendations and that it can be dangerous. Great items to be aware of!

    However I must disagree with you on the “its illegal” part. I dont know where you live but here in Oregon it is NOT illegal to ride on the sidewalk unless specifically designated as illegal. In fact there is no speed limit on the sidewalk IF there are no pedestrians and IF there are no cutouts (driveways). If there is a pedestrian, a bicyclist is to yield and reduce its pace to that of a walk (not a slow jog- but a walk). Of course you can check your state laws and even in your city there might be more specific laws. (For example in my town there are a few places where it IS illegal to ride on the sidewalk)

    I realize I’m harshing on you a bit- but I dont mean to. The recommendations are great- I just dont want misinformed beginner bicyclists out there who never start to their bike now because they think that its illegal to ride where they feel safe.

  4. Tim Grahl says:

    Deetso: Thanks for the input and I understand your points. I wrote this article from a standpoint of what the common laws are, that’s why I wrote “the law in most areas…”.

  5. Quinn says:

    Deetso- in a Lot of states it is illegal, here in Nevada a cyclist can get ticketed for riding on the side walk.
    Consider this point, in most states a bicycle is considered a motor vehicle, it is illegal for motor vehicles (cars) to drive on sidewalks, so wouldn’t it be illegal for bicycles to ride on the side walk?

  6. Matthew says:

    I’m from Burlington, Ontario and it’s perfectly legal to ride bike on the sidewalk except for on 300m stretch of a single road downtown.

  7. Garry says:

    Great article, though not universal. In Madison, WI it is allowable for bikes to ride on the sidewalks, especially in circumstances where a bike lane is not available and/or street traffic is deemed unsafe by the rider. At which point there is a set of rules governing how bikes should be ridden on sidewalks.

    Having pointed that out, you’re absolutely right about the fear factor. I’m new to commuting and feel fortunate that the majority of my ride is on a very well maintained bike path. Yet, whenever I’m on the street in traffic I feel much less safe and confident in my skills. Sometime I ride on the sidewalk simply because I’m afraid. Hopefully I will improve and build more confidence.

    Also, I sure hope people aren’t griping about kids riding on sidewalks. I’m not a parent, but I sure wouldn’t want my kid to ride in the streets.

  8. Matt says:

    I’m a pretty religious stay off the sidewalk type of rider, but then, that’s just part of “ride like a car, unless it’s going to get you killed-” the other philosophy I follow. I’d like to add one small point: Crosswalks are designed for pedestrians. It is critical that if you are going to use one without dismounting your bike, that you stop, look, and then proceed through the crosswalk at no more than a walking pace. Personally, if I am going to use a crosswalk, I dismount and walk my bike through it, hopefully building a little goodwill with my surrounding motorists. I also wish that that particular species of biker who thinks that riding in the crosswalk allows them to blow a red light would just go away. Makes us all look bad.

  9. Dylan says:

    The only place I’m ever tempted to hop up on the side walk (but haven’t) is when I’m passing through the center of town to bypass the long lines of cars waiting for the traffic lights. However, all of the storefronts have doors that open out toward the side walk creating a seriously painful hazard if you catch one while riding by. Plus, in the morning there are a number of places that sell coffee, and everyone seems to exit onto the sidewalk holding their hot coffee out in front of them (at about bike seat level), another hazard to riding on the sidewalks. So, I’ve decided is usually safer to stay with the cars and wait out a light or two if I have to.

    Side walk riding is also illegal where I live and work, but lots of people do it anyway, even the bike cop (then again, I’ve seen the cop cars drive on the sidewalks too).

  10. Equally as bad as sidewalks are bike paths that cross busy streets. I was hit over the weekend when crossing a street that I had the right of way on. The driver just took off after knocking me 4 feet into oncoming traffic and a pickup truck behind him told me to stay off the road. More thoughts about it on my blog.

  11. matthew booth says:

    Machinetwelve – first off I hope you are ok, but holy cow that would have made me mad for a week straight. I try to stay calm and aware on my bike rides, but I frequently get the desire to ride up to a driver at a stop sign and brain them for being jerks.

  12. A_Str8 says:

    Another 2 tips:

    - Watch doorways. I’ve seen a few bikers hit pedestrians because the pedestrians walked out of a store and did not expect a bike to come barreling down on them.

    - Be extra careful at corners. When on the sidewalk, you often cannot see who’s coming from around the corner until you have already crossed their path.

  13. JoelGuelph says:

    As an added tip to point #3, try to ride on the sidewalk on the right side of the road (left side in places where you drive on the left). When motorists pull out of a parking lot/driveway, often they will only look left. If you approach from the opposite side, there is even less chance they will see you, especially if you are moving fast.

  14. poppymann says:

    I have a mostly suburban 32mile commute, which here in Plano menas the streets are six lanes wide and the limit is 45mph which tranlsates 55+. In general, people are relatively respectful, but it only takes one DB to kill somebody.
    While we don’t have messengers here, we have a great deal of tension between the rural folks and the 50-100- rider packs that appear on the weekends.

  15. Fritz says:

    Tim, this is a good post, but sidewalk riding is not illegal in most areas. Typically, some cities will restrict bicycling on sidewalks in “business districts” or the like.

    I’ll use the sidewalk generally to avoid multiple left turns or similar situations.

  16. Roger says:

    Re: legality of sidewalk riding…

    …unless you live in a “mandatory sidepath rule” state.

    Of course, I think it’s ignored locally, and if I’m ever tagged, I could take issue with whether the “sidepath” is “suitable.” I don’t think any sidewalk is “suitable,” no matter how wide.

  17. I’m glad someone pointed out that it’s not illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk in Oregon, though local jurisdictions make it illegal in crowded downtown areas. I’d also like to point out that it is illegal not to give warning when passing a pedestrian.

    Depending on how much bicycle culture there is in your town, a friendly ring of a bell should not startle the average pedestrian, and in many cities it is traditional to say “on your left!” when passing, which is often acknowledged with a friendly wave.

    In places where you may encounter less bike-experienced pedestrians (people out for a stroll around the park or someone on an ordinary sidewalk vs. joggers and walkers who frequent multi-use paths), be sure to give enough reaction time. Inexperienced pedestrians may think “on your left” means: a) get out of my way! b) jump to the left c) freeze until the “danger” is past. Whizzing closely by someone without warning (that goes for fellow cyclists as well) is just plain rude.

    I use the sidewalk less and less these days, but I’ve found it is best to dismount and walk your bike at crosswalks, for the reasons mentioned above, and especially because it helps end the “are you a vehicle or are you a pedestrian” confusion many motorists have. (for example when you’re riding in the street and a well meaning motorist gives you right-of-way you wouldn’t deserve if you were also driving)

  18. K.MacMillan says:

    In Calif. it’s illegal to ride on sidewalks. It’s not usually enforced, due to police being busy elsewhere, unless a ped gets p.o.’d or knocked down. Always best to walk the bike on the sidewalk when the street is unsuitable for cycling.

  19. MikeOnBike says:

    K.MacMillan Says: “In Calif. it’s illegal to ride on sidewalks.”

    Not quite. CVC 21100 says:

    “Local authorities may adopt rules and regulations by ordinance or resolution regarding … Operation of bicycles … on the public sidewalks.”

    So it varies from city to city, county to county.

  20. jj says:

    Illegal to ride on sidewalks. Should we send all our 8 year olds out into the roads with their bikes too? I think you should list what states have this law if you are going to make a statement like that.

  21. Quinn says:

    JJ,

    sorry for the generalization, 8 year olds don’t generally read these articles, if you look into your states bike laws there is probably a clause about wheel size, IE - “a bike with 24″ wheels or larger is considered a motor vehicle.”

    in doing so, keeping the small childern as safe as possible, by qualifying a bike that is to big for them to ride.

  22. Sam says:

    Now that I look… some of those links are dead. But the root URL works and you can search for bike laws that way.

    At any rate, based on a cursory and not very exhaustive look at a few states it seems that states don’t address bikes and sidewalks explicitly.

    I think where people might be confused is where some states say that bicycles have all the rights and responsibilities of motor vehicles. However, it is clear that most states intend this to mean while the bicycles are using roadways. There doesn’t appear to be an intent that this should somehow transfer to sidewalks as well.

    That said… avoiding sidewalks is overall a good thing and the tips noted above are good. I use sidewalks when it makes sense for my safety or for efficiency.

  23. Marjie says:

    Viewpoint in Chicago Journal – Why I ride my bike on the sidewalk.

    http://chicagojournal.com/main.asp?Search=1&ArticleID=4167&SectionID=25&SubSectionID=172&S=1

  24. Stuart M. says:

    Great website! I live in Japan where it is officially illegal to ride on the sidewalk, but EVERYONE does anyway. The Japanese are pretty heavy users of bicycles (usually cheap ones that rust in the first rainfall, but then they only cost $100). Usually you see old men, mothers and school kids using them. The car traffic is very heavy in most cities and everyone expects the bikes to stay on the sidewalk. No policeman has ever given me a hard time for being on the sidewalk. It boils down to this: do you want your schoolkid or your wife to be out there with those cars? I second the emphasis on courtesy to pedestrians. Here the Japanese are not very considerate, usually a young punk with earphones on who is also SMSing on his cell phone blows past pedestrians within inches. I drive a sturdy Diamant bike I bought in Germany which weighs 18 kilos, has 47-622 tires and two baskets that hook on to the sides of the rear rack. The 3×7 Sachs gears setup is nifty, but my workpants still get dirty from the chain even with a chainguard. The Japanese have never heard of pants clips. I wish I had some!

  25. Dan says:

    Wow, I completely agree with this post.

    “Despite your stance on the subject, the fact remains that it’s going to happen”

    I wish that more people would adopt this point of view in all aspects of life.

    @ Matthew: I was fully prepared to disagree with you but I have scanned the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario and nowhere does it mention that cyclists are to refrain from riding on the sidewalk, this must be a by-law in most municipalities.

    I make a point of keeping a copy of the important parts of the Highway Traffic Act on my person when I ride a bike. Written legislation comes in handy when you are getting yelled at by someone who thinks that cyclists have no business on the road. You would be surprised how quickly you can silence somebody by saying “Well actually, I happen to have a copy of the Highway Traffic Act right here! Opening a car door without looking ‘is’ illegal!”

  26. JiMCi says:

    Quebec Highway Safety Code:

    492.1. In no case may the driver of a motorcycle or moped or a person riding a bicycle drive or ride on a sidewalk except where necessary or where so directed by a sign.

    “Where necessary” does not mean that because one is afraid of traffic, it is necessary to ride the sidewalk ;-)

    I don’t ride sidewalks. Not because it is illegal, but because I have no business on them. The biggest dangers I see commuting are not vehicles, I get along fine with them. Pedestrians, joggers, dogs walking their masters around, cras pulling out of driveways are far more unpredictable and dangerous…

  27. oystercatcher says:

    I ride the sidewalk as much as possible as I dont trust car drivers at all. Same for children, I would never expect them to assert their vehicular rights.

    Anyone who thinks otherwise is only thinking of themselves just as so many car drivers do so.

    The only solution is to make all roadways one way with one lane excusively for bikes and horses. I hope the gas price makes rationing an absolute necessity taking millions of cars, trucks, buses permanently off the roads.

  28. Stuart M. says:

    I have this recurring fantasy at all times of the day, no matter where I am or what I am doing: there are no more cars/trucks in the world, but all the big, wide roads and highways are still there. I and other bicyclists are whizzing along in the middle of the lanes, we rule the roads! Aaaahhhhhhhhh…(orgasmic sigh).

    Okay, have to snap out of it, back to the real world, onto the sidewalk…

  29. John N. says:

    Here in San Jose I see “jose(s)” riding their bikes on the sidewalks all the time(as well as going the wrong way in the bike lane) as cops drive by and have yet to see one get a ticket. SJPD needs to enforce this!

  30. Coelecanth says:

    Perhaps someone else has already pointed this out but you missed an important safety consideration: always look behind you before crossing a driveway or cross street. Drivers traveling in the same direction as you and who are intend to turn right often aren’t looking for something moving as fast as a bike on the sidewalk. It’s also very hard to see cyclists in the clutter of trees and street furniture that some roads have. The dreaded “right hook” is much more likely when riding on the sidewalk, so much so that this fact is often used by anti-infrastructure advocates to discourage separate bike paths.

  31. Paul says:

    In Stockholm the police will stop you if you ride on the sidewalk and the pedestrians will give you the finger. I know a guy who got a ticket for taking a shortcut over a sidewalk.

  32. Digital Dame says:

    I’m another Oregonian, and there is a stretch of road I ride where signs are posted where the sidewalk begins saying “Bicycles Use Sidewalk”. There’s another at the corner directing cyclists to use the pedestrian crosswalk, although a couple of times before I saw these signs I took the left turn in the left turn lane like a car. All the way down the sidewalk though are more signs designating it as a bicycle route, they really don’t want bikes on this stretch of road. It’s narrow, almost no gutter, and people drive pretty fast. Also it’s residential, so driveways or streets every ten feet. Frankly I was relieved to be able to use the sidewalk on this street.

  33. Digital Dame says:

    StuartM:

    Have you seen the Kaiser-Permanente commercial that shows a section of highway with hundreds of cyclists riding in both directions, not a car in sight!? It’s fabulous. I think it was one of their early “Power to Change” ads.

  34. HLP says:

    I’m totally at odds with any government restrictions on sidewalk bike riding. One thing slightly discussed here are minors as a factor in sidewalk riding. Lets take another approach from an adult versus child perspective. Your child is learning to ride a bike without wheels. You let him ride on the sidewalk to learn. A policeman writes you a ticket because your child is riding on the sidewalk and that’s illegal where you live. So you tell your child they’ll have to wait till you find a place that’s safe and legal. What a ridiculous delemma. Look in most cases we allow kids to use the sidewalk so why can’t mature adults? Stupid law that illegalizes sidewalk bike riding. Ok there should be rules for sidewalk riding that make sense and some herin fill that bill. Hey go to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Ca if you want to see Bicycle abuse of a sidewalk.

  35. K. says:

    I think the real issue is not deciding where bicycles belong — but the fact that, on most roads in the US, there is no place for bicycles.

    If there’s a bicycle lane on a road, or if the road is quiet with slow cars, I’m happy to stay on asphalt. When I’m on a road with cars going 45-50 mph, no bike lane and a shoulder full of parked cars, though (as I do on my daily commute), I have no qualms about using the sidewalk. I keep an eye out for pedestrians and watch out for driveways and other hazards — and I’m aware and careful of sidewalk dangers. But even if I did get in an accident, I’d rather be hit by a car going slowly through a driveway than one going 40-50 mph.

    Oh, and in my city, sidewalk riding is legal — but illegal in certain neighborhoods.

  36. Carlton says:

    Good article with common sense advise. Generally, the point on whether riding on the sidewalk is legal or not should be revised to say the following: it depends on the jurisdiction in which you ride. Check your state, county, and city codes to determine whether it is or not. The California Vehicle Code does not prohibit riding bicycles on the sidewalk. Some cities in California do prohibit such riding, some don’t. Generally, the regulation (policing) of city sidewalks is left to cities throughout the U.S., and is not preempted by state law. Common city prohibitions don’t allow riding on sidewalks in downtown (retail) areas and on sidewalks fronting shopping centers. But, cyclists may ride on the sidewalks not fronting downtown areas and shopping centers.

  37. Carlton says:

    edit: “advice”

  38. Rodger says:

    I was pulled over by the police for riding in the street instead of the sidewalk. This street has bikes riding on it very often including myself almost everyday for the last 14 years. The officer told me it was illegal for bikes to ride in the street when a sidewalk, parallel to the street, is available. I informed him that he was absolutely wrong and that in some towns it’s actually illegal for bicycles to ride on the walk. This incident happened in a town that uses bicycle police that also ride in the street. At first I thought he was kidding but he made it very clear that he was serious. I asked him where the candid cameras were and mentioned how interesting it will be to hear the judges reaction when we are in court. He then backed down some and threatened to ticket me if I don’t stop completely at stop signs. I just re-mounted my bike and continued my ride. He followed me for a while but eventually turned.

  39. James M says:

    Because the roads in Florida are so dangerous the state has changed the law and now any biycycle is allowed on the sidewalk, so long as it is human powered and not assisted, electric, etc.

    When on the sidewalk you have to obey the pedestrian rules.

    Section 316.2065(10) and (11), F.S.)

    A person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.

  40. Camille L. Neilson says:

    You know, today I went into the Police Station in Roseville, CA today to ask some questions about an issue we were dealing with, with our neighbors. We witness a completely unrelated issue to our own problem, but one that has to do with a woman riding a bicycle on the sidewalk.

    I am an avid cyclist and in fact I rode 38 miles this morning before my visit to the police station. I know the California cyclist laws.

    While we were waiting for an officer to come down to talk to us in the lobby for our own issue, a lady walks upto the counter and we (my boyfriend and I) hear her story unravel.

    She was pulling out of a parking lot at the Doctor’s office and she looked both ways and sees that is safe to enter the intersection. She lets her foot off the brake and next thing she knows, there is a woman in front of her car with a bicycle and the 2 make contact. The woman on the bike was riding against traffic and was riding on the sidewalk. The police report showed the woman driver at fault. Well, her insurance was contacted by the woman on the bike and now she is asking the insurance company for $50,000 from this accident. The woman did get a few scrapes and bruises, police were called the scene. She said she was fine, but the police made her go in the ambulance to the hospital. By the time they look at her at the hospital, they smell alcohol on her breath, but by that time she test below the legal limit, but she may have been above it at the time she was operating her bike. The woman who was driving the car also found in the police report that the woman on the bike was taking medication that can cause dizziness as well, so who is really at fault? It appears to be the woman on the bike right?

    I ended up talking with the woman while I was waiting for the officer who was supposedly walking to us 20 minutes ago. She seemed perfectly sane and also told me she and her husband are also avid cyclists. She just wanted the discrepancy with the law and the police report sorted out. Her insurance claims adjuster told her it was illegal and to talk to the police.

    SO as I am still waiting, a man whom she had spoken to on the phone already regarding the issue came to window. Immediately I could tell he didn’t want to help her. He was just rude and very unprofessional. He actually told her it was not illegal to ride on the sidewalk. My boyfriend says, “Excuse me, but it is illegal, I’ve been pulled over by the police for it and know the law.” The man behind the counter told us to stay out of it and continued to tell this woman it was not illegal.

    So I came home, looked it up on the California DMV website, and it says:

    Bicyclists: must ride in a straight line as near to the right curb or edge of the roadway as practical-not on the sidewalk.

    So what to we do when the incompetent police officer lies about the laws to the public? Then we have misinformed citizens braking the law who will look like idiots when they get a ticket for riding their bicycle on the sidewalk and they tell the police officer that Joe down at the police station says it’s legal. And we are creating accidents waiting for a place to happen, but at least we know it will be on the sidewalk.

  41. Dave says:

    Send a letter outlining your concerns to the Roseville Police “Traffic Team”, to the Chief of Police, cc’d to the local newspaper, DMV office, and State elected reps.

  42. Catherine Huth says:

    Two comments here regarding Bicyclist causing accident and riding on the sidewalk.

    My daughter pulled up to an intersection in her car, looked both ways, took her foot off the brake, and was hit by a 22-year-old bicyclist who was riding in the street on the wrong side. He had been obstructed by a light pole when she looked to the right and he was ticketed by the police. His bike caused much damage to her car and he said he was ok, but SHE insisted calling 911. He went to the hospital by ambulance. We expressed concern and tried to get information from his father about if he was ok or what. The father was very standoffish and it was quite obvious he was going to use it to milk the system and my daughter. His lawyer threatened her and although the young man was ticketed by the police, my insurance company paid the damages. So bicycles ARE NOT viewed as motorvehicles and can not be expected to abide by the rules of the road in every case.

    This is also true because computerized traffic lights do not recognize bicycles in the road. I can sit at a certain intersection until the cows come home if no automobile shows up to trigger the light. Since lights aren’t made with bicycles in mind, I think nothing of going through them at 5:00 in the morning when there is no traffic in sight and if a police were to question me on it, I would tell him exactly what I just said.

    Another reason I jump to the sidewalk is the potholes and ill-maintained sides of the road. Bumpy sidewalks are better than some of the stuff I need to ride through to get to work.

    Finally, there is no sidewalk or bike path along the front of our local airport, and nos side streets to take instead, and it is a 50 mph zone!!! All I can do is pray when I hit that last two miles. There is plenty of money for a pathway available if a grant request is submitted by February, but none of the local politicians is responding to my calls or emails. Any ideas? As an individual, I can not write a grant myself – even if I knew how.

  43. Ben says:

    I almost ALWAYS ride on the side walk. There are hundreds of cars on the road and maybe half a dozen pedestrians in the couple of mile stretch. It is also much easier to avoid slow moving people than it is to avoid cars. It just seems stupid to ride on the road when the is a perfectly good sidewalk that is, for the most part, not being used.

  44. Stan says:

    Good article.
    Regarding the legality of riding a bike on a California sidewalk, a poster says “Bicyclists: must ride in a straight line as near to the right curb or edge of the roadway as practical-not on the sidewalk.” This is on the DMV website, but not in the California Vehicle Code. While it might be sensible in almost all cases, and while you might be cited incorrectly based on it, I don’t think it is the law.
    I believe the California Vehicle Code does not prohibit riding a bicycle on a sidewalk and instead it is up to individual cities to prohibit. CVC 21200(a) is sometimes cited as a reason to not use a bicycle on a sidewalk (as it says that a bicycle rider is subject to the provisions applicable to a vehicle driver – such as not being a drunk driver). But the prohibition in CVC 21663 is against operating a motor vehicle on a sidewalk. Combining these we get: a bicycle rider cannot operate
    a motor vehicle on a sidewalk. But I do not see any prohibition in the CVC against bicycle operation on sidewalks.

  45. Denny says:

    Does anyone know the law regarding riding bicycles on the sidewalk in Jacksonville, Florida? TIA.

  46. Sam says:

    You can find a good summary of Florida bicycle laws here…

    http://www.floridabicycle.org/rules/bikelaw.html

    That said, there may be specific laws in Jacksonville that supersede these state laws.

    Oh… and by the way, Jax is my hometown (I live in Illinois now).

  47. Laurel F. says:

    Even at a crosswalk, a car will likely not see you, so don’t pull in front of a car! Today I was in a car and was turning, and suddenly this biker who had shot into the crosswalk from the sidewalk started yelling at me. So I stopped turning and backed up. No one got hit, but I almost didn’t see him until it was too late. Bikers often don’t seem to realize how invisible they are and don’t seem to care. Unless they want to get hit, injured, or killed, they should be much more cautious, even when they legitimately have right of way.

  48. Dwight H says:

    I worked as a paramedic for 26 years in the area of the GW bike path that runs between Alexanria, Va. and Mount Vernon. I responeded to many calls with bikes involved in an accident and some of them fatal. Not once was it that a biker killed a pedestrian but a lot of them had the biker killed by the car. I will ride on the side sidewalk most of the time, espcially now that I live in Florida. Be repectable to the pedestrian and you can enjoy the safe harbor of the sidewalk.

  49. Aaron H. says:

    I second Dwight on riding sidewalk in Florida. There’s a lot of humidity down there, and it messes with peoples sense of reason.

    There’s a lot of . o 0 discourteous driving lets call it. The worst I’ve seen was when these kids actually opened their door at 40mph and kicked a cyclist who was riding a good 20-25mph himself. That’s an ambulance call right there.

    To be fair I did have someone throw a bag of marbles at me in Phoenix, and I’ve had drivers “race” me to the stop sign when I’m already 2ft from the cross walk (highly visible). Florida was still very special though, lots of ‘discourteous driving’ down there. At least in my experience

  50. Aaron H. says:

    I ride 95% on the street

  51. Chris L. says:

    I just started commuting and I definitely ride the sidewalks. I use the cross walks just as a pedestrian. I am extremely careful with parking lot turn-ins. Sometimes if things look hectic I will even swing into the parking lot to avoid a direct crossing. I go pretty fast, but we don’t really have “pedestrians” along main roads out in the suburbs where I live.

    I feel that bicycle commuting is an important part of my preemptive strike to adapt to a changing American lifestyle in a global economy. I’m not going to get run over for being an early adopter though!

  52. Rantwick says:

    For me, there are very very few instances where the sidewalk is a better choice, but knowing that we’re all different and that I’m unlikely to persuade anyone that riding in real traffic is more safe (which it almost always is), your suggestions are good ones.

  53. Aaron H. says:

    Though I’d add one more comment. The only time I’ve ever been hit by a car riding a bike… was on the sidewalk.

  54. Chris L. says:

    I’m sure each city is different, and within each city each route has individual circumstances. The majority of cycling fatalities in our city are when drunk drivers hit cyclists on the shoulder of loop 360 (i.e. the Lance Armstrong route) and when motorists run lights or otherwise squish people in the roads. There are sometimes dedicated bicycle lanes but cars are allowed to park in them so you would have to routinely swerve out in traffic to miss the parked cars. I personally have a sidewalk with little/no inlets for the majority of my route. Where there are inlets I stop and really look around. In general they’d have to jump the curb to get me. Just in my neighborhood (i.e. where houses are) I do drive in the street because I don’t want somebody to get me backing out of their driveway.

  55. steve says:

    Thanks for a sensible list of rules for sidewalk riding.

    While I understand the arguments for the Dangers of Riding on a Sidewalk, I still think riding in traffic is tempting fate in most cases. How can you ignore all the fatal auto accidents? What I mean is – there are thousands of people killed every year – with no biker in sight – and these fatalities were people protected by a massive coat of armor called a car or truck or bus. A biker’s helmet is a puff of smoke in comparison. To me, most cyclists in traffic are either living in a dream world where nothing bad ever happens, or he has a death-wish.

  56. Mari says:

    It is definitely illegal to EVER ride on the sidewalk as an adult. It’s one thing if you are a child of 10 or under, but the sidewalk presents all kinds of hidden dangers to the riders as well as pedestrians. I’m an avid biker myself, or at least I was one until seriously injured (spiral tibia fracture) by a bicyclist illegal riding facing or into oncoming traffic. I came around the corner riding in the proper direction and was thrown into traffic by the illegally riding bike. I live in NYC where riding on the sidewalk is insane. I’ve been hit five times! With large numbers of pedestrians and MILLIONS spent on bike lanes there is NO excuse ever for riding on the sidewalk. Buildings come all the way to the corner, so there are no sight lines to see the biker coming right at you as you come around the building, I’ve seen them run into baby carriages! CROSSWALKS are for pedestrians, bikes should only be WALKED in them. With the traffic noise being what it is, you can never hear the bike sneaking up behind you, you walk a little to the left as another pedestrian comes towards you unaware of the bike approaching and BOOM! ALL traffic laws apply to bikes. The more bikes on the road the more important to follow the laws. Neither pedestrians or vehicles are expecting to find wheeled vehicles where they don’t belong, on sidewalks, riding into traffic or wrong way on one way streets (a hazard to themselves AND fellow bikers) or running red lights and stop signs as if they don’t exist! Bikers in this city ride like they are in the Wild Wild West. Get rear view mirrors, always ride in the direction of traffic flow, and STAY OFF SIDEWALKS.

  57. Sam says:

    Mari,
    it is NOT illegal to ride on sidewalks. The laws are different in every municipality and county.

    While I agree that it is dangerous to ride a bike on a crowded sidewalk in NYC or Chicago… that doesn’t apply to every single situation that occurs in the rest of the country where sidewalks may, in fact, be the only viable place to ride a bike.

    For example… did you know that in some municipalities, it is illegal for bicycles to ride on the street on certain roads?

    I appreciate your rant, but try not to generalize for everyone in every situation.

  58. Mari says:

    Let’s put it this way, I’ve lived in 12 states, coast to coast, cities large and small and it has been illegal everywhere I have lived. In NYC it is specifically stated:

    .§ 4-07 (c)(3) – Restrictions on crossing sidewalks No driving bikes on sidewalks unless sign allows or wheels are less than 26 inches in diameter and rider is twelve years or younger. See also Administrative Code.§19-176.

    Tickets are $50 and if stopped without ID, bike will be confiscated and you can spend the night in jail.

    It’s one thing to ride on the sidewalk in suburban or rural areas that have little or no pedestrian traffic, but it is definitely illegal in almost every larger city, especially in the business districts where pedestrian traffic is fairly heavy. I’m infuriated by bikes in NYC competing with me to use the curb cuts created for handicapped access to ram their bikes up on the sidewalk. With 20-100 pedestrians on each block, lack of sight lines, it’s a recipe for disaster. Then the bikers put themselves in danger flying off the sidewalk against a red light turning into oncoming traffic. I almost hit one last week–would have been entirely his fault too. If bikes don’t follow traffic rules, and they ARE classified as vehicles by the DOT, then they are setting themselves up for disastrous results. Just think what the roads would be like if cars or motorcycles ran red lights, and went the wrong way in traffic, or used sidewalks whenever they felt like it. The more bikes on the road (which I heartily applaud) the more necessary for ALL to follow the same rules of the road.

  59. Tyler says:

    I had no idea that biking on sidewalks were illegal. However, I live in suburban Oklahoma, so it’s not very pedestrian-friendly. There are some sidewalks on the side of most major roads here, and I’ve always ridden on them. I highly doubt that I’ll EVER get a ticket for doing this here :)

  60. Richard says:

    I do not agree with people riding bicycles on the sidewalk no matter what age they are. I avoid public paths also. My wife was injured by a clown speeding down hill on the sidewalk near the university she went to. I live in San Bernardino Ca now and the sidewalks are full of kids and adults walking and bicycling. If it is against the law the police ignore it. I have seen several pedestrians hit by bicycles and also seen bicyclists hit by cars crossing the sidewalk to get on the road. The police will use the law for the purpose of helping the insurance companies keep there operating expenses down. I watched a female ride here bicycle crossing the road in the sidewalk get hit by a female motorist who also did not look where she was going. The officer who came to the accident decided the bicyclist was riding on the wrong side of the road and ticketed her for breaking the law. Even though the walk sign was green to go and the red did not matter for the right turning motorist according to the cop. Your safety tips are nice for the people who insist on breaking the law but do nothing to keep them from injuring the public who walk. I believe in positive reinforcement. I ride my bicycle many places but when I walk with the wife at night I carry dog spray and a club and it is not for muggers.

  61. Mari says:

    I did get a laugh about the spray and the club. When I was still recuperating from the broken leg I used to throw my crutch out in front of the bikers on my street. The sidewalk is very narrow, single pedestrian lane going around the trees, and with a major subway stop on the block is always heavy with pedestrian traffic, yet these a–holes on bikes think they can ride full speed down the block! I get really testy when the bike lane is right there–and I’ll point to it saying get in YOUR own lane! In NYC we have an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 bikers–with that kind of volume traffic laws must be followed or there will be injuries–to pedestrians to other bikers and to the law breakers themselves. It’s hard to be looking out for something that absolutely shouldn’t be there, like a bike charging off the sidewalk into cross traffic that has the green light, or crossing in front of traffic into a far left lane to turn left INTO oncoming traffic–with some of the bikers that have been hit by cars many were doing something stupid–like running through a red light at a major intersection, or a stop sign without looking–or coming up on the inside of a bus turning right– everyone has to follow a certain set of rules or there will be chaos and death. There have been a number of pedestrian FATALITIES from bikers hitting people on the sidewalk and crosswalks here. The statistics dropped when tickets started being issued, but nine times out of ten the cops just ignore them–they ride right in front of them and they just can’t be bothered.

  62. Laurel F. says:

    I agree, Mari. Bike riders can be so reckless, and it’s politically incorrect to criticize them.

  63. Paula B says:

    I live in a very small town where we have sidewalks on 1 side of the road and there are times when it just ends and pops back up around the corner. What Ive seen today and MOST days is rude cyclists on the road where there is no such thing as a bicycle lane. They are in MY driving area and I have to slow way down or even stop because of waiting for the cars in the next lane to pass me so I can go over the either dotted or in this case SOLID line just to get around him! It is outrageous. I like a good bike ride as much as the next person but will never put myself in harms way to get down the road and back. The sidewalks hardly have any one walking on them and I think thats where the bikes belong. I can understand in bog cities where tons of people walk to work,etc. like NYC but around here it is extremely dangerous and considered very rude for someone to take up the cars lane to ride a bike when the sidewalk is perfectly fine (and there are no driveways where I am speaking of) and pedestrian free. Im sure you can tell it irks me greatly!

  64. Rodger says:

    Paula B

    I don’t know what state you live in but it is possible that riding bikes on the sidewalk is illegal, even though you think that is where the bikes belong. The bikes riding in the streets, even though there is no bike lane really has nothing to do with the legality of the bikes being in the street. The bike lanes are nice, but they often don’t exist, often because there is no room for a “bike only” lane. If it’s inconvenient for a car, such as you implied, well that’s really just tough. In Illinois it is legal for a bike to take the whole lane, like a car does. It’s not intended for the bike to normally do that but it allows them to take the lane when it may be safer; often when approaching intersections. If you believe some bikers are rude; that is really a different subject that has nothing to do with bikes on the street even though there is no bike lane.

  65. gayle says:

    summer just started, and got hit on my ankle by someone who was not paying attention on the sidewalk looking at a woman, bikes should get more tickets!!
    this happened last yr. too ,last yr, he was a kid, this year a grown middle age man

  66. Allie says:

    It’s hard on either the sidewalk on the road – but given how slow you have to go on the sidewalk, it’s often times more frustrating than it’s worth. Also, and this is just a philosophical reason, it’s better to have more bikes out there on the road so that cars learn to pay better attention and share the lanes.

  67. Mari says:

    Exactly!

    Cars need to be used to bicycles riding in a legal fashion on the road. Once they get used to them, and where to expect them I believe there will be less danger on the road. One of the big killers here is bicycles riding into traffic, at night, with dark clothes and no lights or reflective anything. Well, they might be able to see the cars, but the cars can’t see or are expecting them! They are also a danger to other riders going in the proper direction because there isn’t room for two way bikers between traffic and the curb or parked vehicles. Someone ends up in the line of traffic to avoid colliding with the wrong way bicyclist. Plus pedestrians crossing the street aren’t on the lookout for two wheelers going against the flow of traffic either and often get run down. Bikes need to ride in a legal fashion so other users of the road know where to expect them, and can respect them.

  68. Annonymous. says:

    Mari,

    You’ve posted on this thread 4 times with long responses. Don’t you have something better to do?

  69. CJ says:

    Can someone tell me where I can find these laws. I tried to find towns where it is ilegal to ride on sidwalks. I want to present this to my town council. I saw a 3 year old almost get plowed down by you guessed it a guy that can’t get a license… gee I wonder why? They need to get off the sidewalks

  70. joe says:

    I ride my bike on the sidewalk because i find it really safe, safer then the road. drivers turning should just treat bikes as crossing pedestrians. if the roads are safer then the side walk then pedestrians should all just walk on the road.

  71. rod says:

    I live in downtown sacramento, and most of us ride Cruisers, we generally travel at twice the speed of a walk. Only the spandex people seem to use the road, and for good reason! Speed! They all want to be Lance Armstrong, so silly in the city. I was told today, for the first time by a cop, that I had to ride on the street. I had heard about him from another person, and now it happened to me. There are hundreds of people that cruise here, and none of them take the road! I will ride on the road if I must, but I will take the hole lane and still cruise and the same speed as if I were on the side walk. I hope others read this, and do the same, and see how long that lasts!!!!

  72. Andy says:

    I commute by bicycle around 250 miles per month. I work in Downtown San Jose, and travel to and from work during the busiest periods of the day. BUT, I NEVER ride on the sidewalk. In fact, I am so against riding on the sidewalk, that I have no problem knocking people off their bicycles when they pass me on the sidewalk (while I am walking, of course). So if you choose to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk, be aware that people like me will take it upon themselves to punish you.

  73. Thomas says:

    More cyclists are killed/injured each year as a result of biking on the roads than pedestrians killed/injured by cyclists for biking on the sidewalk.

    So fuck you and your damn logic. You only whine and bitch because you’re a pedestrian. When I bike on the sidewalk, pedestrians yell. When I bike on the road, cars honk. So where the fuck do you think I should be?

    Probably where traffic is permitting. Sometimes there are more cars than pedestrians, and will therefor choose the sidewalk for my safety and their convenience. And vice versa.

    So unless cars stop parking on the sides of the roads (which would make a perfect bike lane), I will continue to bike where I feel had the highest level of convenience and safety for both myself and others.

  74. mbt says:

    So unless cars stop parking on the sides of the roads (which would make a perfect bike lane), I will continue to bike where I feel had the highest level of convenience and safety for both myself and others.

  75. BikeRider says:

    The California Vehicle Code does not prohibit riding a bicycle on the sidewalk – That decision is left up to the local municipality. The city I live in (Whittier) has passed an ordinance that prohibits this act only where posted (see below). I verified this with the police as well.

    C.V.C. 21206. This chapter does not prevent local authorities, by ordinance, from regulating the registration of bicycles and the parking and operation of bicycles on pedestrian or bicycle facilities, provided such regulation is not in conflict with the provisions of this code.

    10.52.040 – Bicycles prohibited on sidewalks.
    No person shall ride a bicycle on any portion of any public sidewalk or other public place where signs are erected and or notices placed giving notice of such prohibition.

  76. Poker says:

    I’ve really gotten into fitness since moving to Colorado but cannot get myself to ride a bike on the streets. There are so many opportunities for an honest mistake to cost me life or long term injury. Add to that the legions of idiotic, inattentive, texting, i-phone app-addicted facebook freaks and student drivers and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

    There aren’t enough bikes on the street for people to be used to them. When things get a little congested and people make sudden lane changes or are forced to merge while looking behind them for traffic, there are just too many chances for something to go wrong.

    I don’t know what to think about riding on the sidewalks but I can definitely tell you that riding on the street is not smart.

    It’s especially dangerous when going up small mountain roads that the bikers here love. I have gotten stuck behind 10 mph bikers on 2 way streets for long stretches because there is no line of sight on a steep, twisty mountain road.

  77. Paul says:

    Andy, think before you talk. There is people like me who came from another side of the world where riding on the sidewalk consider a proper way to drive and there is nothing wrong.

  78. Anon. says:

    I generally ride on the sidewalk because the route I have to take includes a bridge that is notorious for its speeding drivers and I honestly don’t feel comfortable riding in the road. I’ve never harmed a person or gotten close to harming myself and I honestly don’t see what the big deal is. There aren’t that many walkers or anything in my area and most people are just fine with moving out of the way for bikers, like myself, that can’t go fast enough to be safe on the busy roads.

  79. Joe Realist says:

    Richard,

    You have got to be kidding. I hope someone takes your “weapons” from you and uses them against you. You deserve it!

  80. Dennis says:

    I did some research on my own and according to the California Bicyclists Association website it states that tickets issued by local police departments in the State of California are illegal because State Law supercedes local authority, so why are local police issuing these tickets if they are illegal and wrongly issued, this was by the local Costa Mesa CA police and it’s under thier municipal code. If someone out there can clarify this for me it would be greatly appreciated, I will keep the weblink in my email and check back on responses.

  81. Samantha says:

    Yeah, sorry, but I bike 4 miles to work along side a six lane road known for accidents caused by drivers going 70+ miles per hour, messing with cellphones and such, veering into other lanes – where they know to expect others to be.

    I’m not risking my life riding in a narrow little “bike lane” where drivers don’t actually seem to expect bikers to be. If they manage to ignore other cars (big huge things compared to me and my bike), then how much easier would it be for them to glance down at the radio and miss me in the “lane” beside them?

    Much safer for me to stick to the sidewalk, methinks. And since I live in Florida I’m good!

  82. Mary D. says:

    The majority of these comments are from bicyclists. Organizations such as Califonia Walks and Pedestrian Safety groups are springing up, simply because pedestrians have no place to safely walk and need a safe place to walk. A hit from a bicyclist is 150 pounds minimum — there are instances of pedestrians being killed from bicycle hits and plenty of pedestrians have broken limbs due to hits from bicyclists. My last check showed records are not kept of pedestrian-bicycle accidents which is disappointing.

    Bicyclists riding on the sidewalk display little to no courtesy to pedestrians. Most lack lights, horns and visible ID. No way would they be rude to cars that offer protection as they are to pedestrians who have no protection. Most sidewalks are too narrow to allow pedestrians and bicycles to share the same space.

    Bicyclists who ride on the sidewalk are posing the same threat to pedestrians that they face riding on the pavement.

  83. Petra Zulia says:

    I just started riding a bike and for me, it seems that the sidewalks are as dangerous as the roads. Where I live, we have bike lanes, but what frightens me are those Lance Armstrong types that ride the bike lane super fast. Also there are many parked cars along the bike lanes. I hear about getting ‘doored’. It scares me to try to ride on the bike lane. This is very intimidating for me as a new rider. Today, I was just walking on the sidewalk and I almost got hit by a bicyclist coming from behind. If there were more pedestrians on the sidewalk, I am sure they would be in the way and would have had an accident. I am not a good rider and I already feel like like you are damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  84. Cookie says:

    I’m a commuter biker going to the store or library; I’m just riding to save gas and get some exercise. Out on the boulevard, where there are NO pedestrians and the 4 lane highway has no bike lane, I’ll take the sidewalk. If I approach a pedestrian, I can hop off and become one too. But when I get into neighborhoods, I take to the street as the sidewalks are busier than out on the highway. I try to use common sense and be safe. I always try to bike defensively. I’m almost 60!

  85. Groovy Mom says:

    I’ve been slowly working on commuting more to work with my bike. Thankfully it is mostly path and I only have to cross a couple roads. But they are BUSY roads. Today, I also rode on the sidewalk due to a stretch of road where there was no path, and no lane. When the coast was clear, I hit the street again. It caused me a lot of anxiety, though, because there was a very steady stream of cars. I don’t trust cars, not even when I’m in one.

    Less than a year ago a biker was hit on the same road I cross to get to work. It didn’t fare well for the biker. Bikes aren’t cars. They aren’t pedestrians, but on a bike we are as vulnerable as a pedestrian.

    As far as kids go – I could care less if they ride on the sidewalk.

  86. Brad says:

    Good guidelines. The following statement, however, is unwarranted hyperbole: “In essence, riding your bike down the sidewalk is the same as if you hopped the curb and started rolling it in your car.” It’s actually not the same at all. These guidelines, I believe, are followed by as many sidewalk riders as there are road bikers who follow the rules of the road. In other words, sidewalk riders are no less likely to care about their safety and the safety of others than road bikers. There are legitimate reasons to choose the sidewalk, especially if the above guidelines are followed. Until this country gets serious about bike safety (think Netherlands, where I biked for years), I’m taking it slow on the sidewalk and the street – whatever makes the most sense for that section of city.

  87. Want2bRD says:

    Since everyone is talking about legality, what about all of the cyclists (at least in my area, San Jose, CA) who want to share the road with the cars, but feel they are above the law when it comes to stop signs??? I almost never see cyclists here stop at stop signs. Share the road, share the rules! Otherwise, you might get hit!!!

    I just bought a bike and am planning to ride wherever I feel safest. I won’t put myself in danger on our narrow 2-lane road where people drive much faster than the posted speed limit of 25 mph, cyclists run stop signs, and cars run stop signs (at the school crossing zone, no less!!!). My daughter just learned to ride on 2 wheels, and she’ll be staying on the sidewalk on our street too, but possibly riding in the street on wider, less-traveled roads. I will be respectful of all pedestrians, and will walk my bike through any crosswalks.

    You can’t tell me that the illegality of someone conscientiously riding on a sidewalk is worse than the illegality of a cyclist blatantly flying through an intersection without stopping.

  88. Hello Ther says:

    So… what if you DON’T live in NYC?

  89. Hello Ther says:

    Sorry, but… the usefulness advice given by people not one’s own state and/or city is extremely limited due to differences in laws and driving culture

  90. Jack says:

    I bicycle frequently as a mode of transportation not for sport but because I am poor. However, incidentally I’m health concious and a bit enviromental – I’m probably not the average poor bicylist in my area (I don’t keep a blunt stored behind my ear and I don’t wear a white bed sheet for a shirt) – so I appreciate the exercise and the very small footprint I leave on the enviroment compared to drivers.

    So where do I stand? I myself utilize both the sidewalk and the road. I can’t bicycle on all of the roads in my area. Sometimes there’s no shoulder, the drivers travel about 60mph and get pissed at me and honk and yell and come too close. It scares me a lot.

    So I often utilize the sidewalk. I go slow. I slow all the way down for driveways and crossroads and look both ways, forwards and backwards and I slow all the way down for pedestrians. Some pedestrians, of course, get pissed at me for using their sidewalk. I don’t think they know about the drivers who get pissed at me for using their road.

    There needs to be bicycle lanes and sidewalks attached to every single public road in America for everyone’s safety. There are three categories: pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers. Anyone, even the pro spandex dudes with the nice bike gear, who think cyclists belong in the same lane as twenty thousand pound dump trucks are kidding themselves.

    We need three unique travel lanes for each mode of transportation so everyone can be safe and no one is confused about who belongs where. Maybe America can create jobs by mandating that bicycle lanes and sidewalks be built into every single road.

  91. Sean says:

    First off this is good to know. And he is talking about california read before knowing what you are saying. And what I don’t understand you cannot call a bicycle a motor vehicle because it has no motorized parts such as transmission clutch drivetrain so you cannot consider it a motorized vehicle. If you look in a dictionary and you go to motor it will say either a system of gears levers etc that runs on a fuel based substance to make it automatic or manual so what ever state you live in I am sorry but your mayor or whoever is a retard. California needs to change that law as well considering that a bicycle doesn’t have a motor it should be able to ride on sidewalks as much as you want becuz if you do slow your pace to that of a walk or jog it shouldn’t be misunderstood that you are doing wrong laws are rediculious bicycles? Are considered a motorized vehicle what? Does it say that in the dictionary ? Umm a motorized vehicle needs a license and plates registration and isurance. So that makes absolutely no sense its just nonsense.

    I do have one question in california in orange county can you as a person while rideing a bike can ride on the sidewalk against traffic yes or no?

  92. JMAC says:

    I found the article to be very helpful. I was not sure if pedestrians had the right of way on the sidewalks.

    My husband and I have recently moved to the US from Europe. While living in Europe, it was not important for us to understand Bike Laws. Cyclist there preferred the road. It was rare to see bikes on the sidewalks. Plus, people would not stand for feeling unsafe.

    We now live in the Clarendon area. I am sure most people consider Clarendon to be a very busy area for foot traffic. I was surprise to see how many people wer riding their bikes on the busy sidewalks.

    I watched as some cyclist yelled for people to moved out of the way or they would start to ring a bell. Yes–the bell ringers.

    I thought this must be a rule here. One strange AND dangerous rule that bikes would have the right of way.

    While taking a walk across the Key Bridge to Georgetown with our service dog, I found most cyclist to be rude and extremely inconsiderate of the pedestrians, all ages. Most were riding at high speeds as if they were competing in the “Tour de France”.

    I did not see the cyclist in back of us, we heard yelling, we turned to see a man very upset. He was yelling at me to move my dog or get off the bridge. My dog walks next to me–closely. The bridge was crowded there was no place to move quickly. It was upsetting that many people on bikes were rude when passing. Where does this mindset come from?

    My Sicilian temper did not allow for him to get away without expressing my feelings.

    Bikes on sidewalks are dangerous.

    I am all for cyclist who are considerate of others. I understand the dangers of road riding, but DO NOT bring danger to the sidewalks.

    Please find ways to support and improve the safety of cyclist and pedestrians.

    If cyclist are not careful they may one day find themselves BANNED from riding on sidewalks, EVERYWHERE!

  93. JMAC says:

    Jack your comment is great.

    I have never before looked at this matter with–now a very bad taste for bikes on sidewalks.

    I could not agree with you more. Bike lanes are well needed in the busy cities of the US.

    Riding bikes help to keep the environment clean. Europeans love to ride their bikes. They are a big means of transportation. It can be very expensive to own a car in some cities in Europe.

    I do not feel that all cyclist are inconsiderate–you know who you are.

    Good riding and be safe to all bike riders.

    And yes, I am a cyclist.

  94. angry pedestrian says:

    YES, She needs to inform you. Obviously! Because most of the people on here are apparently 8 year old boys and girls due to the fact that they are shivering in their boots about riding alongside vehicles. Have they ever wondered how pedestrians feel when they,either wizz by them or even sneak up from behind them? The bicyle becomes to the pedestrian, as the car to the bicycle. You are willing to endanger an 8 year old walking down the street on the sidewalk, over your own fears. Besides the pathway pedestrians walk is called a sidewalk, hence the word “walk”

  95. angry pedestrian says:

    in reply to Jack when he wrote: So where do I stand? I myself utilize both the sidewalk and the road. I can’t bicycle on all of the roads in my area. Sometimes there’s no shoulder, the drivers travel about 60mph and get pissed at me and honk and yell and come too close. It scares me a lot.

    So I often utilize the sidewalk. I go slow. I slow all the way down for driveways and crossroads and look both ways, forwards and backwards and I slow all the way down for pedestrians. Some pedestrians, of course, get pissed at me for using their sidewalk. I don’t think they know about the drivers who get pissed at me for using their road

    My response: Maybe you should remember how you felt when you were endangered on the road the next time you ride past a pedestrian. Maybe instead of riding past them, you get off your bike and walk past the pedestrian. Then the pedestrian will look crazy yelling at someone walking by them.

  96. angry pedestrian says:

    Sean, you ned to go to: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/hdbk/traffic_lanes.htm#sharrows

    That is where the answers are, read it and learn.

  97. Venezia says:

    Well I juss got a fixie and tomorrow i’m going to ride it to school for the first time and i’m kinda scared to ride in the street and i don’t wear a helmet which makes it worst but anyways i’m need some rules on how to ride on the road. I’m trying to write an essay so that I could get more bike lanes on the streets but I need all the right facts so if anyone could help email me at:
    mizzdangerous4@yahoo.com
    thank you!

  98. Larry says:

    I just bought a bike recently and started using it. I had no idea that riding a bike on a sidewalk was illegal.I was always bothered by bikers who rode their bikes on busy roads thinking they were in danger of getting hit or causing accident. I don’t mind riding on side streets but would never take the chance of riding on a major road unless it had a very wide shoulder. I guess I’ll have to stick to paved trails made for bikes. Too bad-I was hoping to take biking up as an alternative way of traveling.

  99. Stuart-Gios boy says:

    I’ve been cycling for 30 years and I tend to mix it up. Wial on either of my road bikes I’m in the street but on my mountian bike or “city” bike I mostly ride on the sidewalk. I live in Orange Couny, CA., in the city of Orange, it’s legal to ride on the SW with the flow of traffic but in Anaheim (neighboring city) it isnt legal. I still ride on em. I find that the crosswalk is the tricky part, wial most here in the O.C. are to stuck on their cars they tend to push the limit of safty. When I’m on the SW, at a crosswalk, I push the CW button, when the little guy turns “white” to cross, drivers WILL chalenge you because they dont want to wiat for you to pass then the next car and so on and so on. My view, although probly not right is, a car will do more damage than a bike will do, when it comes to bodily injury. there for the car needs to yeild to the bike, bike yelds to the pedestrian. When the foot touches the ground, one foot, they are in the CW and untill the last foot leaves the ground they are in the CW. So riding threw the CW, I cross respectfully if there are people to deal with, always giving them a wide buffer. when there are no people,I cross but, a car will still hurt you more than you hurting the ocupants inside. I still cross with CAUTION, that’s me, that’s how i do it. Riding in the street can have it’s advantage but, I’ve been clipped, bumped and scared #*&$less at times all because drivers dont pay attention and or dont care. Utah has a law that it is mandatory to give 3 feet of space to all cyclist on the street. Dont know how well that works though. It should be legal to do so in all 50 states, my reason, an inexpireanced rider reacts differantly to a simi passing them at 45mph than when a Honda Prius dose.
    PS: this is one really long thread, cool and cheers the the author, good subject to write about.

  100. eviltrucks says:

    so is this a joke or is this seroius? its iliegal to be on a side walk when in my city most of the day and night there really aint a soul out on them. and how i see this rideing on the road is safer? i dont think so. but i hope some one can answer this!

  101. troy says:

    i try to ride with the trafic, but there are still those cagers that will run me over, because their assholes. So i say put bikeing lanes in for us or forget it LAW. I experiance road rage all the time and they weigh a ton and i weigh 200 lbs.The only people that are getting the fines are mostly low income people, so tell me why? is the law fineing people that can’t pay and with no penatles if they don’t. put bikeing lanes in and stop living off our fear of being mangled by some ideits that have no respect for us poor people on bikes.

  102. troy says:

    i take it that your dont have to ride a bike well most people riding on the side walks are curtius to the pedestrians and it’s usually the young punks that rase up on people walking on the sidewalk.There’s always going to be piss offs, but at least no one gets killed.

  103. Nathan says:

    That’s not entirely accurate for Oregon.

    Some cities do not post as illegal because it’s ilegal for the entire city.

    http://www.stc-law.com/bike_sdwlks.html

  104. Poppyman is exactly right! Plano, Frisco, Flower Mound, Lewisville, etc… all have a large riding community and tensions are high.

  105. Mrs Dormouse says:

    Thanks Tim Grahl, for a thoughtful article.

    In civilised places, such as much of northern Europe, riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is illegal because that is intended as a safe place for pedestrians. Hence, adequate provision is often made for cycling on the highway.

    The pedestrians are often people who can neither drive a car nor ride a bicycle e.g. older people, disabled people particularly blind, visually impaired and/or hearing impaired people, young children, people with assistance dogs or just those carrying heavy shopping. For many disabled people, the capacity to walk safely is reassuring and an important aspect in gaining financial and social independence.

    I realise that politically the USA is generally satisfied to see the vulnerable, the weak and the poor “go to the wall” but does that really extend to disabled pedestrians too (in those places where sidewalk riding goes unchallenged)? Don’t disabled people in the US have any rights, such as the freedom to walk safely, independently and without fear of bicycle impact?

  106. disabled 100% cyclist says:

    I think the bike laws are relaxing in US. Especially considering that more and more seniors and other mobility impaired are using power chairs that go speeds many cyclist do on side walks.

    minnesota has law that says sidewalks are allowed with exception of business districts unless local authority says it is allowed. Also local authority have the authority to restrict any other area within city limits.

    our city has a ambulatory clause and those people are allowed to use any kind of wheeled transport short of powered bike.

    My understanding is due to my severe to deaf hearing I am allowed on sidewalk, because I can not hear the traffic till it is too late.

    mirrors for deaf are useless, you need 4 eyes 2 forward 2 on mirror. mirror only works if you know traffic is there to know when it is important to look behind you.

    Also note, an acquaintance, riding on roads only, was hit 5 times(several being hospitalization injuries). In the same time I been using sidewalks. I have not been hit even once.

    our city posts that only areas marked as no biking is off limits.

    our city is one of the bike friendly cities listed in Minnesota.

    The point someone made about knowing whether a bike is pedestrian or motor vehicle. That is easy. When on sidewalk and using crosswalks its pedestrian. when on road its motor vehicle. simple common sense.

    As to my name I am disabled that relies on cycling 100% of my transportation year round in ALL Minnesota weather.

    couple of extra tips to add to your list:

    When crossing intersections ALWAYS look in all directions for potential traffic. sidewalk or street

    Never assume you have right away. road your dead, sidewalk you seriously injure pedestrian and yourself.

    watch all doors that open on to sidewalks.

    make sure your brakes work for sudden stopping on dime.

    here is tip to pedestrians too, which you folks completely ignore. LOOK WHERE YOUR GOING and be sure you look all ways when merging into other traffic. You DO NOT own the whole sidewalk or crosswalks. This is not just about bikes its about other pedestrians and cars in intersections.

    The only right-away is the right away that is given. It is good to have a little fear, you tend to avoid the things that would otherwise kill you. like that idiot driver that failed to look left and right when turning. And Idiot pedestrian who failed to look to make sure the cars will give right away. only to have one dead pedestrian smeared all over Broadway! Because people failed to use common sense.

  107. Unknown says:

    I only agree with 2/3. Because if there is a steep heel, I’m gone like the wind. But if I see pedestrians, I will slow down way before I get to them and go around. My grandma says to say to the left or to the right or excuse me when behind them. But I guess I talk so soft people cant hear me. I dont feel like yelling so I just go around. If I scare them when I randomly pass by…oh well. bUT i WONT ZOOM BY. Sometimes I cross to the other side instead of going around them or right nest to the curb(looking for a car 1st) and then get back on the sidewalk. You do not only have to cross at a crosswalk, if you are not blind…. you should see if a car is coming or not and know not to zoom pass a street where the driver would not see you. But you can speed up if there are no walkers ,just slow down when you get to a street where a car could be coming out. When I get to a stop sign, and a car comes… I go. If I got to the stop sign 1st. They know the rules too.

  108. Unknown says:

    The times when they dont hear me say excuse me, I will go by the curb so it will be less likely to scare them. But most the time I try to move out of the way since it really is there place. Im sorry, I dont feel like waiting at 5 minute stoplights. Least if Im going to ride ont he sidewalk I do it carefully. So I am not making it hard for walkers. Some people move out of the way, I dont know why they feel they have to. I prefer moving out of the way for them. Maybe I should wear a shirt thats Says when I move, dont move.., just like that? Haha. Gave a little twist to the song lyrics with Ludacris. Could not resist.

  109. Unknown says:

    Sorry, last comment. My reasons for not riding in the road is :impatience(long stoplights) and I too worry about fast drivers getting mad at me. Im a slow vehicle, what the heck kinda place do I have on the road?? I mean I make sure I dont injure anyone on the sidewalks. Bikes on the road just do not make sense to me.

  110. Unknown says:

    If you pass by them slowly on a bike or walking past you can still scare them. Because it is unexpected. So I just prefer riding next to the curb in those situations, if a care is not coming.

  111. A driver/biker/walker says:

    Thanks for the tips!

    Remain calm, get informed and do your best to be safe as you travel.
    Sharing information to those ends improves the transit environment.
    Fomenting irrational biases is unnecessary and unhealthy.

  112. dhondi says:

    My reason for not riding in the road with motor vehicles is very simple: I live in FL.

  113. Rose says:

    I live in the suburbs of Chicago. I ride with my 8 yr old and my 4 yr old in a trailer behind me. They go to work with me in the summer.
    We ride in the street until we reach the main road to ride to the train. Then we get on the sidewalk as this is a very busy 4 lane road with narrow lanes, a lot of semi traffic, and that sees a lot of accidents. We ride that for 5 miles, but the sidewalk is dangerous there also as there are a lot of side streets, drives, and parking lots. Once we get to the city, we get back on the street as luckily, I work in an area with a large amount of bike lanes.
    In our situation, there really isn’t much of a win-win. We have a huge bike path, miles long, but it runs north/south, while we must ride east/west.

  114. Rose says:

    **For clarity, my 8 yr old rides his own bike.

  115. Richard says:

    He began the phase you object to with: “The law in most areas of the country”..in most parts of the country.

  116. Scott Tucker says:

    I completely agree with these five rules! Personally, it’s not fear that keeps me from using bicycle lanes though, my motivation for using sidewalks is the shade, the scenery, the leisurely pace. I don’t miss the car exhaust, stop lights, glass/rocks/debris, interacting with traffic, etc.

    But mainly it’s the shade I like. When I use the bike lane I’m limited to one side of the street, and often the good shade is on one or the other side (depending on the time of day & where the sun’s at).

    #3 addresses the most dangerous thing about riding on the sidewalk, that situation where a car is pulling up to turn onto a street. I came up with a way to deal with that situation that’s good for the bicyclist and the driver, you can read about it on my blog (just click my name and scroll down to the bottom).

    If everyone followed those five rules riding on the sidewalk wouldn’t even be an issue, it’s only when people ride fast and careless that it’s a problem, those riders need to ride in the street, and stop giving coasters/cruisers like me a bad rep.

    Personally, I don’t want to “ride like a car”, I want to take my time and enjoy the ride. Riding in a bicycle lane may be just as safe as riding on the sidewalk, but it’s more stressful, not just because 3,500 lb pieces of metal are whizzing by you with randoms at the wheel, but simply because you have devote mental energy to dealing with traffic. That said, for long stretches that are downhill, I definitely appreciate the bicycle lane!

    I like Burlington, Ontario’s law of making it illegal only on a certain stretch of road, that makes a lot more sense than making it illegal for an entire city.

    Google “copenhagen bicycle lanes” they have the right idea.. Vehicle traffic, then parked cars, then bicycle lane, then sidewalk. (so bicyclists are protected by the parked cars instead of parked cars being protected by bicyclists) Eventually we’ll have to get rid of most of the street parking anyway though!

    Katrsixtyseven – you make a good point, a bicycle bell isn’t fine for alerting people, best to use it at a distance though, most are pretty loud!

    Stuart – I have the same fantasy! It will happen once we run out of fossil fuels and sustainable energy prices skyrocket.

    Coelecanth – I agree that you should look back when crossing IF you hear traffic, but often you can use your sense of hearing and know there are no cars around, so “always” is a little much..

    Mrs. Dormouse – I agree you’re Northern European civilized countries are ahead of the curve when it comes to bicycle lanes, our city streets here are JUST NOW starting to become more bicycle-friendly, because all of our cities were designed with a focus on vehicle traffic. As dangerous as it is for the pedestrian on the sidewalk for a bicycle to come flying by, it’s much more deadly for vehicles to fly by the bicyclist. As long as the bicyclist is taking it slow and cautiously on the sidewalk no pedestrian needs to walk in fear of bicycle impact. I, and many other people in my community like to take it slow on bicycles and enjoy the ride along a shade-filled sidewalk, I wouldn’t want to live in a city where sidewalk riding is illegal. Maybe we just need a sidewalk speed limit, eh?

  117. Scott Tucker says:

    *err.. I mean “a bicycle bell IS fine for alerting people”

  118. Scott Tucker says:

    Mary D. – “Bicyclists riding on the sidewalk display little to no courtesy to pedestrians.”

    Wrong. You might have said “many bicyclists..” I and many other people give the right-of-way to pedestrians. I always dismount and walk my bicycle when passing pedestrians on a 5 ft. sidewalk, whether I’m in front or behind them, and sometimes on the wider sidewalks too. I ALWAYS slow down though and make sure they have plenty of room.

    Give me a lane separate from the street and I’ll ride my bicycle on it and stay off of the sidewalk, but this mixing bicycles and motor vehicles is absurd. It’s not just the fact that the person on the bicycle is so exposed, or the vehicle can do so much damage with just a slight turn of the wheel, or that many drivers are off in la la land while they’re driving around, it’s that the bicyclist and motorist are traveling at very different speeds! It’s awkward for drivers to slow down so much for the bicyclist and it’s awkward for the bicyclist to have to speed up so much to change lanes.

    Motor vehicles and bicycles are too different, when we try to treat the bicycle like a vehicle it becomes a pain to ride, not a pleasure.

    Sidewalks are stress free, and if bicyclists slow down and always give pedestrians the right-of-way, it’s perfectly safe for everyone.

  119. Scott Tucker says:

    One last thought, the bicycle rider who rides in the street and wants to get from A to B quickly doesn’t belong on the sidewalk, THAT type of rider should use the bicycle lane or side of the street if there isn’t one. But everyone who is ready to “punish” sidewalk riders, if someone is leisurely riding try to see them as a different person than the rider who hit you or your wife, k? thx.

  120. chis aguirre says:

    I agree it is against the law need to be more inforce my son was hit last night by a 14 year old kid ridding his bike on the side walk .my soon is only 3yrs old.he had got a busted lip and his ear rip open hehad to get rush to the e.r and had to get stitch es even though it was an accident it could have been a different out come .these rule need to be more enforce sign by side walks .signs of fines .we make them for people talk or texting while driving .these thing need to be more in force.

  121. Desert Rich says:

    First of all to Stuart in Orange, CA, cycling on sidewalks is allowed in Orange except in the commercial districts, now illegal because of complaints from little old ladies being terrorized by kids on bikes there, but in Anaheim, a quote from a city engineer to my request for info was “Riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is legal in Anaheim.”
    In California every jurisdiction decides on its own if cycling is allowed on sidewalks, for example, Los Angeles County (unincorporated areas) says no, but LA City is yes. The most sensible cities are the ones that have specific rules, like Long Beach, that allows cycling on most sidewalks, except those specified in their muni code, with a speed limit of 15 mph, or 5 mph around peds. Newport Beach has a shopping list of streets that allow sidewalk cycling, and will ticket on others.
    The place that is a haven for sidewalk cycling is the Coachella Valley, from Palm Springs all the way out to La Quinta. The major roads all have bike lanes that the vast majority of cyclists use, but with a speed limit of 55-60 and 4-6 lanes and all the bad drivers and bike fatalities, I stick to the sidewalks to enjoy the scenery and keep my blood pressure low. I can ride 10, 20, even 40 miles on very scenic, wide sidewalks, past all of the interesting features, places to eat, etc. I may encounter 1 ped per mile; and I’ve discovered that most peds take morning walks, so later in the day they are virtually empty. Of course in summer you don’t want to go out past 8am due to heat. I’m extra careful at all road & driveway (that are minimal near the gated country club communities) crossings and have had no problems in probably 200 rides there.

  122. Molly says:

    Regardless of legality or illegality, it is very often simply RUDE to ride on the sidewalk. You mentioned for sidewalk riders to be “courteous ” and to wait before asking a pedestrian to let them pass, but if I see an adult cyclist on the sidewalk, I will not move out of their way no matter how politely they ask. Also, if their behind me and I’m listening to headphones, I won’t hear them, so if they want to pass they better be prepared to either get off and walk, or ride on the road like everyone else! When adults ride on the sidewalk, it sends a message to unsympathetic drivers that yes, indeed cyclists shouldn’t be on the road if they can just ride on the sidewalk. Sidewalk riders : get a helmet and lights if you are afraid, but never surrender your rightful place on the road lest it be taken from you. And if you’re really that scared to ride on the road, maybe reconsider your participation in modern society : hell, life in general. Risk is necessary, rude behavior is optional.

  123. jjj says:

    Thank you for these rules! I don’t know how to drive and I’ve never ridden bikes in populated areas before, (ie paved roads that aren’t trails..) but I just moved to the suburbs near/in a medium sized town so I’m going to have to learn how to ride in places where there are cars! I really really do not want to go on the road, and I don’t think anyone would want me there, either.

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