Bicycle riding legally on the sidewalk in Los Angeles is a crap shoot. Some cities – the City of Los Angeles, Redondo Beach, and Pasadena, for instance – permit it. Others – such as the County of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Palmdale – forbid it completely.
Then there are the cities that permit it, but not in a “business district” or a “commercial area.” And there are many cities – including Palos Verdes Estates, West Covina, and Hidden Hills – whose municipal code doesn’t address the issue at all (good luck in those cities, cyclists).
Since the question of whether or not a cyclist is permitted to ride on the sidewalk is in the top 5 questions I’m asked by cyclists, I decided to create an infographic for a quick look at the issue.
Now the disclaimer. I strongly urge you to go to LADOT’s wonderful seven-part blog series that details the sidewalk bicycle riding laws in each city. Since there are no walls at each city’s boundaries, it is very likely that any ride you undertake is going to take you through other cities. Each has its own rules about bicycle riding on the sidewalk.
Business Districts are Tricky
Cities that do not permit sidewalk riding by bicycles in business districts are particularly tricky. Definitions of “business districts” can vary greatly according to the city’s municipal code. For instance, Beverly Hills, doesn’t allow riding in business districts. But a reasonable person would never know without reading the code that the city includes all churches, apartments, hotels, multiple dwelling houses, clubs, and public buildings other than schools, as part of a business district.
Culver City also limits sidewalk riding in business districts, but it goes further, mandating no sidewalk riding around schools, rec centers, and playgrounds. If you can still find a place to ride on the sidewalk in Culver City, be aware that to pass a pedestrian you must give an “audible signal” and must pass to the left of the person.
In Manhattan Beach, you are permitted to ride your bike on the sidewalk if you are younger than 14. Otherwise, it’s illegal.
Only a few cities claim there is no sidewalk bicycle riding in “commercial areas.” Again, it’s important to know what the city defines as a commercial area. Check out the laws in Hermosa Beach and Lancaster.
Even cities that allow riding your bicycle on the sidewalk include such language as you’re not being “dangerous,” riding in a “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property,” and so on in their municipal codes. Most cities also can post No Bicycle Sidewalk Riding” as they please. So keep an eye out for signage.
So What’s a Cyclist to Do
Our suggestions? We have two:
- Try not to ride on the sidewalk wherever you are. If you must ride on the sidewalk, take extra care around crosswalks, driveways, and alleys.
- Read and use the LADOT Bike Program blog for more information about bicycle riding on the sidewalk.
We’d rather see you at the next Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition Handlebar Happy Hour then in our office. Please ride safely and defensively.
For more information, check out the Pocrass & De Los Reyes dedicated bike site.