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Los Angeles Bike Riding Laws

Can You Ride Your Bike on Los Angeles Sidewalks?

Los Angeles is known for its busy traffic. According to the 2013 census, over 471,000 people commute to Los Angeles each day for work. With several aggressive drivers occupying the streets, they leave little to no room for the ever-growing cyclist community.

Even if a bicyclist is following the rules of the road, they are still at risk of getting into a fatal bicycle accident. This may tempt you to take your two wheeler onto safer paths, such as the sidewalk. However, would that be legal? What about a bike on bike collision or a pedestrian accident?

In this article we will discuss where, when, and if it is illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk. If you’ve already been in an accident, contact our qualified Los Angeles bicycle accident attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers. We are readily available to offer legal assistance. 

To schedule a free consultation at our Los Angeles personal injury law firm, please contact our 24/7 legal team by calling (213) 927-3700 or filling out our quick contact form.

California Vehicle Code Section 21206 

In compliance with California Vehicle Code Section 21206, each local government has the responsibility of regulating their own streets and sidewalks. This could mean that riding your bike could be legal on one side of the street, but illegal on the next. Local governments, for example, can decide whether riding on the sidewalk next to a business building or a residential home is legal.    

Sidewalks and the City of Los Angeles

Broadly, the City of Los Angeles allows bicycles to ride on the sidewalk unless they are not acting with a “willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” To translate: as long as you ride responsibly, you are allowed to be on the sidewalk. To limit the amount of fatal bicycle accidents, Los Angeles implores cyclists to practice safe riding rules, such as yielding the right-of-way and stopping before crossing the street. 

Business Districts and Outside the City of Los Angeles    

Cities outside of Los Angeles are allowed to govern their streets as they see fit. For safety reasons, most do not allow bicycles to ride on streets considered as “business districts”. The California Vehicle Code separates business and residential districts as: 

  • Business District.  A “business district” is that portion of a highway and the property contiguous thereto (a) upon one side of which highway, for a distance of 600 feet, 50 percent or more of the contiguous property fronting thereon is occupied by buildings in use for business, or (b) upon both sides of which highway, collectively, for a distance of 300 feet, 50 percent or more of the contiguous property fronting thereon is so occupied. A business district may be longer than the distances specified in this section if the above ratio of buildings in use for business to the length of the highway exists.
  • Residential District.  A “residential district” is that portion of a highway and the property contiguous thereto, other than a business district, (a) upon one side of which highway, within a distance of a quarter of a mile, the contiguous property fronting thereon is occupied by 13 or more separate dwelling houses or business structures, or (b) upon both sides of which highway, collectively, within a distance of a quarter of a mile, the contiguous property fronting thereon is occupied by 16 or more separate dwelling houses or business structures. A residence district may be longer than one-quarter of a mile if the above ratio of separate dwelling houses or business structures to the length of the highway exists.

Safety Concerns 

Most people assume that riding on the sidewalk is safer than riding on the street. However, there are some bicycle enthusiasts that disagree. Moving obstructions such as pedestrians, shopping carts, store doors, and stray animals can cause a fatal bicycle accident. Drivers also are hardly ready for the speed of a bicycle as it swerves onto an intersection or crosses a driveway. 

However, if roads are heavily damaged or if the terrain is particularly rough it may be safer to take the sidewalk. If you do choose to take the sidewalk remember to: 

  • Ride slowly 
  • Watch out for intersections 
  • Make use of your bell, horn, or voice to communicate with pedestrians

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help

If you have sustained injuries as a result of a bicycle accident, you have the right to hold the guilty party accountable. Our skilled Los Angeles bicycle accident attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers can help you recover compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering from your injury. 

Contact us today by calling (213) 927-3700 or filling out our quick contact form to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring and compassionate legal team.

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