As a Los Angeles car and bicycle accident lawyer, this is a question I am frequently asked. Most of the time, the question is posed by concerned parents worried about their children who commute to and from school on their bikes. Let me explain.
The Vehicle Code allows sidewalk riding wherever doing so does not violate local ordinances. In other words, it’s allowed unless it’s not allowed.
Does that leave you scratching your head? You’re in great company, because a three-judge panel in Spriesterbach v. Holland, expressed its confusion regarding California’s sidewalk riding laws too.
In a footnote in this 2013 case, the Court noted that the State’s sidewalk riding laws are a massive jumble of confusion. What if a cyclist legally rides on the sidewalk in one city, only to cross into another city where doing so is illegal?
The Court noted that in Los Angeles County alone, sidewalk riding is permitted in 12 cities, while prohibited in 32 others. Twenty-five cities prohibit sidewalk riding in a “business district”, and 19 cities have no clear regulations governing sidewalk riding.
The Court called upon the California Legislature to adopt uniform legislation governing bicycle riding on sidewalks to clear up this confusion. But until lawmakers comply, cyclists are left with a maze of laws where sidewalk riding may be permitted in one place, only to be prohibited just across the street.
The takeaway is that the legality of sidewalk riding depends on where the rider is. It may sound ridiculous, but that’s how it is currently in the Golden State.
The Spriesterbach case also decided other legal issues pertaining to bike riding, and I hope to discuss those in another post. Stay tuned!
Stay safe on two wheels, and for questions about your case, you know who to call.