Many bicyclists will ride on the sidewalk to distance themselves from fast-moving vehicles on the road. Biking on the sidewalk is not inherently safe, especially for nearby pedestrians, but legality is another matter.
Bikers and pedestrians alike can benefit from knowing how the law affects their experience on the sidewalk.
California law regarding bicycles on sidewalks
California bicycle laws do not account for the act of riding a bicycle on sidewalks. instead, individual cities and counties may determine their own policies on the matter. For example, Los Angeles County legal code does prohibit the operation of a bicycle on sidewalks except for certain marked locations. It is always best to consult the local regulations of an area to know if pedestrians can expect to share sidewalk space.
Why riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is unsafe
Even in areas where biking on the sidewalk is legal, doing so can be dangerous for the biker and those traveling on foot. There is a risk of going too fast, losing control and hitting bystanders with a moving bicycle. Additionally, cyclists moving from the sidewalk into a street crossing are liable to go unnoticed by drivers unaccustomed to scanning for bikes. The safest option is to use designated bicycle lanes wherever possible.
While riding a bicycle on the sidewalk may be legal in some areas of California, doing so can result in serious harm. Individuals who sustain a personal injury while riding a bike can contact an attorney specializing in bicycle law to help understand compensation options.