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  1. #1
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    New question here. Is Sidewalk Use Illegal?

    There are a few streets in my area where there are super tight right lanes (where people tend to travel 50+) pinched in by a rather tall curb that just makes it seem suicidal to ride there. On the other side of the street is a sidewalk that is calm and relaxing to ride with almost no pedestrian traffic. Is this something I can get a ticket for? If it's a city by city issue is there a place to check if Burbank, CA or Los Angeles makes this illegal?


    Thanks for any help,
    Ryan

  2. #2
    knock-knock...
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    Dunno about cali, but a lot of places it is. You could point out that you would die if you took your lane to a cop probably. It might be good to complain to the city about a dangerous are for cyclists. Who knows, something good might happen.
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  3. #3
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    I read a lot about this and tried hard to get an answer for you. What I am finding is that every city is different and that there are certain areas of the city that are different. Some cities say you must walk your bike on sidewalks due to the fact that your bike is an actual vehicle and has to abide by vehicle laws... I read an article that parts of LA are getting rid of that law and states that peds must share the sidewalks with cyclists. I hardly doubt a cop would actually give you a ticket for safely riding your bike on the sidewalk instead of riding on a dangerous roadway. Personally, I wouldn't worry about it but if you are, call your local PD and let them know your concerns. By the way Ca. State Bike Code doesn't state anything about riding on sidewalks. Sounds like it is up to each city.....good luck!
    What are you doing reading this? Go out and RIDE!

  4. #4
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    True, each city has their own ordinance regarding sidewalk use of bikes. In my town, I got hit by a car coming out of the sidewalk. The insurance adjuster docked my settlement by 10% because I was not using the road instead. I tried to contest this- but when the police report verified I indeed used the sidewalk...I was 10% partially at-fault, according to the city laws.

    In most cities, a bicycle is considered a vehicle- to be used on roads, just like a moped should be used.
    "The ONLY person who needs to race.....is the entrant"

  5. #5
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    That is one thing that I find baffling about USA: every state, city, part of a city has different laws. How CAN you know what the law is in every location you happen to pass by?

    Where I live, the places where you can/must ride on the sidewalk are marked with traffic signs with a bike on them. This is the most common one:


    I suppose a police officer may let common sence prevail if going against the letter of the law is dangerous. Maybe.

  6. #6
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    They don't make it easy Pert...that's for sure.
    What are you doing reading this? Go out and RIDE!

  7. #7
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    I have the same situation- In my city, bikes are only allowed on the streets but in one part of town there is a "bottleneck" of sorts that forces me to ride next to 50 MPH traffic with no shoulder- I generally dont like those odds, so for a short distance I break the law and ride down the sidewalk as long as there are no pedestrians coming. My logic behind this is that bicycle tickets in my city are 5$, so that is far cheaper than a hospital bill or funeral from getting plowed.

    I also would use the opportunity (if I got a ticket) to really start complaining about the layout of the town and how unfriendly it is to bikers to try and get out on the east side. Truth be told, I think that most cops would be pretty sympathetic to my plight if they did pull me over or make an issue about it but who knows.
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  8. #8
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    State law is usually silent about using sidewalks, leaving these facilities to the control of the local communities. For example, here in Arkansas there is no statewide law that you can't ride on sidewalks -- and neither is there a rule that you can't drive your car on the sidewalks, either... it's up to the local city councils to regulate this.

    As a general rule of thumb, most cities ban bicycle riding on sidewalks in the downtown area, the commercial or business district, or sometimes within a specific bounded area. It's usually legal to ride sidewalks in residential areas. In all cases when you're on the sidewalk, pedestrians have the right of way no matter how erratic they may be and if you should run over or hit one, it's your fault and your azz.
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  9. #9
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    Upset

    Not too long ago i was pulled over by some detective, probably having a bad day. I was riding what seemed to be an endless wheely, he flashed his lights and siren so i figured as usuall he must be a fan. I assure you he was not! instead he pulled his car in front of me and rolled down his window and said "how would you like it if i impounded that expensive bike till your court date and write you a nice little ticket?" and i was like "oh yah! shows what you know, this bike is a piece of ****. How would you like it if i impounded your FACE!!!! your asking yourself "really?" no not really, i tucked my tail between my legs and said im sorry it wont happen again. it was crazy, i felt like i was 13 again getting kicked out of the mall for being a kid.

  10. #10
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    Learjet, you can see it`s different all over and there are often cases where even the cops that have jurisdiction over whatever area don`t understand exactly how things are supposed to work. My suggestion for a solid answer would be to ask a local cyling advocacy group if they have any confirmable information. In a big metro area like SOCAL, there are probably some groups dedicated to cyling saftey. Ask around at bike shops and they ought to be able to point you in the right direction. In the meantime, I agree with the suggestion to watch your hide in prefference to avoiding tickets- I`d likely take to the sidewalk and hope to not get cited for it.

    Perttime, yeah it`s crazy. I wish it were as simple as in Europe.

  11. #11
    MTT
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    I do occasionally use sidewalks, if the road feels unsafe, but I am usually going slow and I give people walking plenty of room (as they have the right of way, and are unpredictable).

    One important thing to keep in mind- if you use the sidewalk BE VERY CAREFUL when you cross at an intersections. Cars are not looking for you, and statistically, your chances of getting hit are much higher than if you were on the road with the cars............MTT

  12. #12
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    I grew up in a small town in Southern Oregon (Grants Pass). Most everywhere you could ride your bike on the sidewalk. However, the downtown business owners got together and made it illegal to ride your bikes / skateboards on the sidewalks. The city even spent money spray painting the corner of every downtown block to state that it was prohibited to ride on these particular sidewalks. I think that this was more of a ploy to detour loitering since no one really uses the sidewalks to begin with.

    THEN, I move to Portland, OR (a friendly biking community). At first I just drove my car, but then once that got totaled, I became a rider again. Portland has established numerous websites and reference material on biking in the city.

    Essentially it's legal (although not preferred) for a rider to bike on the sidewalks. There are some provisions. The rider has to give way to walking pedestrians -AND- must ride at a "reasonable walking pace."

    Moral of the story, check with your city. They could be bike friendly, or mark off certain areas where you much use the road.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTT

    One important thing to keep in mind- if you use the sidewalk BE VERY CAREFUL when you cross at an intersections. Cars are not looking for you, and statistically, your chances of getting hit are much higher than if you were on the road with the cars............MTT
    EXCELLENT point!! You are much more likely to get waxed in an intersection if you use sidewalks.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    That is one thing that I find baffling about USA: every state, city, part of a city has different laws. How CAN you know what the law is in every location you happen to pass by?

    Where I live, the places where you can/must ride on the sidewalk are marked with traffic signs with a bike on them. This is the most common one:


    I suppose a police officer may let common sence prevail if going against the letter of the law is dangerous. Maybe.
    We call it federalism. And believe me, its a very good thing for states and localities to make their own laws. I don't want the knuckleheads from the puzzle palace in Washngton D.C. deciding if its safe or not for cyclists to use the sidewalk in my town. I'd rather that be a local decision made by people who know the area. And if those people make a bad decision, its a lot easier for the citizens to fix it at a city council meeting (or equivelent), than have to deal with the national government.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by bolandjd
    I don't want the knuckleheads from the puzzle palace in Washngton D.C. deciding if its safe or not for cyclists to use the sidewalk in my town.
    Oh the knuckleheads in the capital don't decide that here either. The knuckleheads of the town still decide whether they put up the bike signs or not. At least there is a consistent way to know where you should ride.

    ... there is another law too: if bikes are allowed, the town has to take care of the routine maintenance of the sidewalk. If bikes are not allowed the properties have to take care of it. Guess what happens to the bike signs downtown, well before snow starts falling...

  16. #16
    MTT
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    Ok I finally had some time to look this up (this is for Washington State)..............MTT


    RCW 46.61.261
    Sidewalks, crosswalks Pedestrians, bicycles.


    The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian or bicycle on a sidewalk. The rider of a bicycle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian on a sidewalk or crosswalk.

    [2000 c 85 2; 1975 c 62 41.]

    Notes:
    Rules of court: Monetary penalty schedule -- IRLJ 6.2.

    Severability -- 1975 c 62: See note following RCW 36.75.010.

  17. #17
    i call it a kaiser blade
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    depends where.

    but i'd rather catch some heat from the fuzz or a roadie in a banana hammock then be paralyzed for life by an idiot 16 year old texting and veering into the bike lane at 55 mph.

  18. #18
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    This is what happens if you ride your bike on the sidewalk in my neighborhood:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jKSz3CJABY

  19. #19
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    That video pisses me off...that stupid ass got pissed because he sprayed himself in the face with his pepper spray...Then the punk ass ( I am not going to call him a cop because he is a disgrace to law enforcement) punches a woman on the the ground....what a dick head.
    What are you doing reading this? Go out and RIDE!

  20. #20
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    That's law in most states....but the collisions still occur. Nine out of ten times the driver says they "never" saw the rider, or pedestrian. My tip is...when using the sidewalk for any reason- slow down or even stop, when entering the crosswalk. ALWAYS look behind you to see if cars are approaching. I know many cars try to race the biker- only because they know they can beat the bike, making their right turn.
    "The ONLY person who needs to race.....is the entrant"

  21. #21
    i call it a kaiser blade
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zachariah
    That's law in most states....but the collisions still occur. Nine out of ten times the driver says they "never" saw the rider, or pedestrian. My tip is...when using the sidewalk for any reason- slow down or even stop, when entering the crosswalk. ALWAYS look behind you to see if cars are approaching. I know many cars try to race the biker- only because they know they can beat the bike, making their right turn.
    that's what they do in gainesville.

    i have SS road bike that i don't ride because someone clipped me in the ribs with their rearview mirror.

    and kept driving.

  22. #22
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    Upset Yup, I ride the sidewalk too (sometimes).

    In my county in Maryland (Montgomery), many times the side lane has been cannibalized to make a turning lane in the middle of the street. In these cases, it makes biking on a busy street dangerous, so I ride the more bumpy sidewalk for miles.

    Again, it beats being hit by a guy texting in his car at 50mph.

    But on the sidewalk, one must always be on the alert for the car twits doing turns as you cross streets at crosswalks and also the idiots who block the sidewalk as they pull out into traffic.

    A 28yr commuter.

  23. #23
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    There's a part of my commute where I ride the sidewalk, it is about a 1/4 mile but that road is busy and hectic then I make a right turn onto a quiet road.

    The 1/4 mile stretch I did one time on the road, people were coming soo close to me, also got a couple of honks. I just ride the sidewalk now because I don't know how I will act in a confrontation and would just like to avoid it.
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    If theres usually pedestrians on a stretch of sidewalk, I stay off. Otherwise I will ride it if theres no place in the street thats safe. I've ridden by my own laws since I was 15 with all due respect for pedestrians and the particular situation and circumstances. I suppose thats why the consensus rules and laws vary so much from town to town.

    Remember this. . . riding "illegally" on an otherwise empty sidewalk is precisely the same as driving a car at 66mph in a 65 zone on the freeway.

  25. #25
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    Check your state laws for sidewalks. In most states it is legal (non-motorized), unless otherwise posted. Remember that pedestrians have the right of way on sidewalks so you should move off the sidewalk to let them pass, or to overtake them. Also, having a bell on your bike is a must when riding on sidewalks. It's not a good idea to startle walkers and/or runners.

  26. #26
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    as a rule of thumb, I slow it way down if I have to ride on the sidewalk. some areas are tight so I have to take the sidewalk so I don't get killed. but I don't ride the same speed as I would on the road.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmsdini View Post
    I have the same situation- In my city, bikes are only allowed on the streets but in one part of town there is a "bottleneck" of sorts that forces me to ride next to 50 MPH traffic with no shoulder- I generally dont like those odds, so for a short distance I break the law and ride down the sidewalk as long as there are no pedestrians coming. My logic behind this is that bicycle tickets in my city are 5$, so that is far cheaper than a hospital bill or funeral from getting plowed.
    *** About 8 G cheaper and I only hit pavement not a car!

    Indiana it is legal - if you are 12 years old or younger. Police in this county turn a blind eye to a *lot* of traffic violations. They are some of the worst offenders. Most sidewalks outside the downtown core are pathetic (full suspension required) or non-existent, so streets are MUP with vehicles, pedestrians (what is with walking at night on an unlit street with dark clothes and no flashlight in the wrong direction? Suicide by motorist?), plus a few intrepid cyclists.

    BrianMc

  28. #28
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    It's technically illegal in almost all of the shore towns here, but nobody is going to stop you unless it's tourist season.

  29. #29
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    If riding on the sidewalk is illegal in your state, I would strongly suggest that you petition to make it legal. It is absolutely ridiculus to not allow cyclists to ride on the sidewalk, when the streets have woefully inadequate bike lanes, if any at all. The problems cyclists face riding on the street far outweigh the problems they would cause riding on a sidewalk. I could see exceptions being made for places like downtown Manhattan were there are 2000 people on the sidewalk per block.
    Last edited by danorano; 03-05-2013 at 02:40 PM.

  30. #30
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    ^^ Problem is, we don't have many sidewalks, and the old ones are a hazard to wall, let alone ride. On a major street to a BMX park the land owners blocked an effort to add an MUP even though the town owns that chunk of 'their' yards. It will take one or two kids getting killed commuting to the park to force that issue.

    BrianMc

  31. #31
    I'm SUCH a square....
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianMc View Post
    *** About 8 G cheaper and I only hit pavement not a car!

    Indiana it is legal - if you are 12 years old or younger. Police in this county turn a blind eye to a *lot* of traffic violations. They are some of the worst offenders. Most sidewalks outside the downtown core are pathetic (full suspension required) or non-existent, so streets are MUP with vehicles, pedestrians (what is with walking at night on an unlit street with dark clothes and no flashlight in the wrong direction? Suicide by motorist?), plus a few intrepid cyclists.

    BrianMc
    Ft Wayne says sidewalk riding is legal, just yield to peds...which there seem to be less than about 20 ALL OVER TOWN during the day! The few that I DO encounter, well, we have space to pass each other, and I'm not riding hard. (Some like to walk side-by-side, and I'm DAMNED if I'll yield to THAT! SHARE!)

    Full suspension makes those busted-up sidewalks fun; there's a block-long stretch of the "WORST" sidewalk in town, across from a local high school, that my kids and I LOVE to hit on our bikes.

    Brian Mc, what part of IN you in?
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  32. #32
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    Burbank, CA : Burbank Bike

    Not sure if this link has the best answer to your question OP, but it will point you in th right direction. If you have already tried this site, many cities now offer their full code online.

    You likely need a bell no matter what surface you ride.

  33. #33
    I'd rather be on my bike
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    Legal or not, I try to avoid the sidewalk like the plague. Here they are in far worse condition than the road, and are more dangerous given the amount of foot traffic there is in and around the campus. I have found that pedestrians and non cyclists on bikes are far more unpredictable than most traffic and my chances of survival are better on the road.
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  34. #34
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    This is an old thread, but this info is still important:

    It is not what is legal that matters, it is what local police choose to enforce. Even if it is strictly illegal, but cops don't enforce it, do it. There are lots of ninnies who are sticklers for rules, who not coincidentally champion the interests of the motor vehicle usually because they use car for their day to day needs. But if you actually cycle to get work, school, shopping and don't have a car, you will quickly learn the truth. In the USA the infrastructure in almost all localities is built for the automobile, often rarely are their proper sidewalks for pedestrians, and their not really any cycling infrastructure at all. So you will have to make do and often that involves breaking the law, and/or riding on the sidewalk for segments where it is too dangerous to adopt vehicular cycling nonsense doctrine.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Learjet35A View Post
    There are a few streets in my area where there are super tight right lanes (where people tend to travel 50+) pinched in by a rather tall curb that just makes it seem suicidal to ride there. On the other side of the street is a sidewalk that is calm and relaxing to ride with almost no pedestrian traffic. Is this something I can get a ticket for? If it's a city by city issue is there a place to check if Burbank, CA or Los Angeles makes this illegal?


    Thanks for any help,
    Ryan
    Big grey area around here...pretty much same situation no shoulder under a bridge...tight and fast traffic.

    Seldom used sidewalk easily available.

    Sidewalk is marked as bike path on city map.

    cops got complaints of cyclists buzzing peds.

    bike cops set up shop, stop all cyclist and tell them the problem and ask them not to buzz peds....but deny sidewalk is bike path but promise to look into it....

    up shot nothing good will come of it.

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