Different communities across Southern California and the rest of the nation have different rules when it comes to riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. Some communities outright ban doing so, while others discourage the practice. Others lack clear guidelines about whether residents have the right to ride their bikes on the sidewalk.
While Los Angeles is among the cities that do allow residents and visitors to ride their bikes on sidewalks, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends thinking twice and seeking alternatives before doing so.
Why riding a bike on a sidewalk is dangerous
There are a number of reasons to reconsider riding a bike on a sidewalk. For starters, motorists do not expect to see cyclists riding in these areas, and this may make them less likely to look for those riding on bikes. This may prove particularly hazardous when it comes to residents backing out of driveways or making turns. Sidewalks may, too, have sudden, unexpected ends that force bikers to enter traffic.
What to consider doing instead
Rather than ride a bike on a sidewalk, cyclists should always ride in the same direction as moving traffic. Riding a bike on the driver’s left side makes the motorist more likely to see you. Wearing a helmet is also critical, regardless of where a biker rides and cyclists riding bikes at night should take advantage of reflective tape and other products that make them more visible to passing cars.
Biking on sidewalks may seem like a safer alternative to riding on the road, but research suggests that this is not actually the case.