Can You Legally Ride On The Sidewalk In California?

Where cyclists are ‘allowed’ to ride is often a topic of hot debate amongst both riders and vehicle drivers.  Many people believe that cyclists can choose whether they ride on the road or whether they decide to stay on the sidewalk.  This is not actually the case.

The truth about where you can legally ride your bicycle is that the law differs depending what city in California you are riding in.

The California Vehicle Code states that it does not prevent any local authority from regulating their own laws about bicycle registrations and either parking or riding a bicycle in an area designated for pedestrians.  This ruling stands as long as any rulings made by local authorities do not conflict with any part of the California Vehicle Code.

What this means in basic terms is that you need to check with your local government authority to find out what the rules are in your particular city with regards to riding your bicycle on the sidewalk.  Then if you move to a new city, you’ll need to check again to make sure you’re still following the law in the local area.

This could all get a bit confusing but you need to be sure before you start using the sidewalks that have been designated for pedestrian use.

Regardless of whether you are able to use the sidewalks when you are out cycling, you need to remember that you should always yield to pedestrians.  On crosswalks and on the sidewalk, pedestrians have right of way which you should already be aware of.  When you are out cycling, the Vehicle Code says you should always ‘exercise due care’ for any pedestrians who may be on the roadway.  This applies even if the pedestrians are not using signed crosswalks.  Basically you have to keep a look out for them and take measures to ensure there is not a collision between you.

When you make sure you are familiar with all applicable bicycle laws you can help keep yourself safe.  Being aware whenever you are riding is, of course, the next step.  Many cyclists prefer to not ever ride on the sidewalk and keep their riding on the roadway.  This way they aren’t in danger of coming across something blocking the sidewalk or someone stepping out in front of them onto the pathway.  This is great advice and something you may want to consider.

Many riders who aren’t quite as confident cycling in traffic feel that the sidewalk could be a far safer choice.  As you can see this is not always the case and you should carefully weigh up your options before deciding where to ride.

Remember to download our Bicycle Accident Assistant App just in case you find yourself in a collision on the sidewalk.  You’ll want somewhere quick and easy to record the details and take photographs of the site where the even occurred.  Having the app already installed on your phone will save you a lot of stress in the event that you need it right away.

Go on.  Download it now!