December 24, 2021
California is hardly a paragon of cycling safety. With nearly 500 local cyclists dying on California roads in one recent three-year stretch, we rank as one of the most dangerous states in the nation.
This situation has caused some cyclists to seek shelter in an unlikely place: The sidewalk.
Yet, is this really a good idea – or legal? Let’s take a closer look.
First, let’s address the legal question: Can you cycle on the sidewalk? The answer is not a clear cut yes or no. While there is no state law governing this issue, local jurisdictions have a patchwork of varying regulations. Some permit it, some do not, and some only permit it in certain areas or under certain circumstances.
Obviously, a cyclist passing through a variety of municipalities is unlikely to plan ahead and create a sidewalk route based on local ordinances.
So now that we’ve addressed the legal question, let’s tackle the practical issue: Is this a good idea?
While the sidewalk may seem like a refuge from dangerous and hostile motorists, it’s no perfect refuge. Sharing a sidewalk with slow moving pedestrians when you’re traveling up to 20 miles per hour can be a recipe for serious collisions.
Other hazards, including opening curb side car doors and stop and start intersections, also complicate the picture.
Cycling on the sidewalk may or may not be legal in your jurisdiction, so it’s advisable to check your local laws. There is nothing wrong with moving onto a sidewalk if the road becomes dangerous – you’ll just want to do so with caution. You don’t end up colliding with a pedestrian and becoming a defendant in a personal injury case.
Advance knowledge of local rules, smart decisions about when to use the sidewalk and extra caution are the keys to ensuring that everyone shares sidewalks safely.
Follow these suggestions, and you’ll be doing your part to keep California just a little bit safer for everyone who shares its roads and streets.
Gary Brustin is a lifelong cyclist and a specialist in bicycle accident law. In fact, these are the only types of cases he accepts. If you’ve been injured in a collision, we urge you to contact Gary for a complimentary consultation.