California is one of the top states for bicycle accidents and fatalities, so it’s understandable that cyclists want to stay away from vehicles and traffic. Cyclists may not feel safe riding on the street, especially when traffic is fast-moving and bike lanes are narrow. However, sidewalks have their own set of hazards including pedestrians, animals, doors opening (both vehicle doors and storefront doors), restaurant patrons eating outside, and even the curb itself. On the state level, no vehicle code restricts cyclists from riding bicycles on sidewalks.
This blog post from the Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates will address a common question shared by pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists: Can you legally ride a bike on the sidewalk?
Is It Illegal To Ride A Bike On The Sidewalk In California?
No statewide law prohibits cyclists from riding bicycles on the sidewalk. Under California Vehicle Code Section 21206, state, county, or town governments have the authority to set their own ordinances and rules.
Bicycle Laws in Orange County, CA
If you want to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk (and understand the risks), you should determine whether or not it is legal on your ride route. Laws vary even within the same county, and not every city will have posted signs. Here is a sampling of bicycle laws pertaining to riding on sidewalks on a few Orange County, CA Cities:
- The City of Fullerton has no law regarding prohibiting or allowing bicycles on sidewalks. California State University Fullerton has a number of “dismount zones” – areas often crowded by pedestrian traffic – where cyclists must get off their bicycles and walk.
- In the City of Huntington Beach, “No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within any business district, or upon the sidewalk adjacent to any public school building, church, recreation center, playground or over any pedestrian overcrossing, or within any crosswalk” (Huntington Beach Municipal Code Section 10.84.160 – Riding on Sidewalk).
- In the City of Irvine, riding of bicycles on any sidewalk or roadway is permitted unless prohibited by appropriate signs (Sec. 4-7-210(a), Irvine City Code). When riding on a sidewalk, cyclists shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing pedestrians. (Sec. 4-7-210(b), Irvine City Code).
- In the City of Newport Beach, “No person shall operate or ride a bicycle upon any sidewalk in the City (Newport Municipal Code section 12.56.030 – Operating Bicycle on Sidewalk)
- In the City of Tustin, “Persons riding a bicycle on a public sidewalk, walkway, parkway, off-street bicycle trail or in any public park, recreational area or upon any other publicly owned property shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians at all times. (Tustin Ord. No. 786, Sec. 29, 2-5-79).”
Orange County, CA, which consists of 34 cities, bills itself as a bike friendly community. Multiple agencies advocate for cycling safety. The Orange County Bicycle Coalition promotes cycling as a means of both transportation and recreation. The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) provides resources and information for Orange County cyclists, including an OC Bikeways Map. According to OCTA, nearly 700 miles of bike lanes are planned throughout the county.
Can Cyclists Ride In The Middle Of The Road?
According to California Vehicle Code Section 21202, if you’re traveling the speed of traffic, you can ride in the middle of the road – wherever you want. If you are moving slower than traffic but the lane is not wide enough for a bicycle and vehicle to safely share side-by-side, you can, as a cyclist, “take the lane.”
Unfortunately, many motorists do not understand cyclists’ rights to share the road. When collisions occur, cyclists are the ones that almost always suffer serious injury or death. Even with a helmet, cyclists are vulnerable to traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and broken bones.
Resources for Orange County Cyclists and Motorists
At the Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates, we strongly encourage everyone in our community to review California vehicle laws, including laws pertaining to cyclists. Common violations such as speeding, failing to stop, and making illegal turns can have deadly consequences when cyclists are in the area.
The California Bicycle Coalition, aka CalBike, provides excellent plain English interpretations of vehicle codes applicable to cyclists. The most important thing for both cyclists and motorists to remember is cyclists generally have the same rights and responsibilities as other vehicles. Motorists should expect cyclists to be present and should look for them, especially when parking, backing up, or turning. Always look for cyclists and pedestrians.
Speak With an Orange County Bicycle Accident Attorney
If you have been involved in a bicycle accident caused by another driver or a defect in a road, you may have the right to financial compensation for your injuries. The Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates fights hard for victims of accidents in Southern California. We have recovered more than $200 million for our clients.
When our experienced personal injury lawyers handle a cycling accident case, we pursue every avenue of compensation. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, get medical attention as soon as possible and reach out to us to discuss your rights. Our consultation is free and we are only paid if we recover compensation for you.
The post Cyclist FAQ: Can I Ride My Bike On The Sidewalk In Orange County, CA? appeared first on Samer Habbas & Associates.