California allows each city to make its own rules about bicycle riding on the sidewalk, so riding on the sidewalk could be legal when you're on one side of the street and illegal after you've crossed the street and are in a different city. This makes it difficult to know where you can legally bike on the sidewalk.
Riding your bike only where it's legal can significantly reduce the risk of getting hit by a car (and getting a ticket), so it's important to know the law before clipping in.
This article looks at the city where I live and cycle most often:
Costa Mesa, California
Costa Mesa has a population of more than 100,000 people, is over 15 square miles in size, and has three freeways running through it (the 55 Freeway, the 405 Freeway, and the 73). Because of its concentration of jobs and proximity to the beach, bicycle riding is an increasingly popular way of getting around in Costa Mesa.
Costa Mesa Ordinance 4-26 sets out the "Rules of the Road" for bike riding in the city. Its goal is to keep bicyclists safe and reduce the risk of bike accidents and injuries. However, even a careful bike rider who pulls up the Municipal Code before hopping on their bike may have a challenging time figuring out whether or not they can legally ride their bike on the sidewalk in Costa Mesa because of how the ordinance is written.
As to riding a bicycle on the sidewalk in Costa Mesa, Ordinance 4-26 states:
So we have to start with Costa Mesa Municipal Code section 10-134. This Code section requires vehicles exiting an alley, driveway or building to stop prior to driving onto a sidewalk.
So...can I ride my bike on the sidewalk?
The short answer is yes. It would be nice if the law came out and said it a little more clearly, but you can legally ride your bike on the sidewalk in Costa Mesa.
Section (e) talks about what a person riding their bike on the sidewalk must do (yield to others entering and exiting driveways and alleys). So, the city governs how a person can ride their bike on the sidewalk and does not prohibit it. You can legally ride your bike on the sidewalk in Costa Mesa, so long as you yield to others at driveways and alleys. That's good news for people like me, who feel safer riding their bike on the sidewalk on some bigger streets in Costa Mesa with fast moving traffic, like Bristol Street, Harbor Boulevard, and Victoria Street.
Although riding your bike on the sidewalk is not prohibited in Costa Mesa, there are more than 43 miles of bike paths throughout the city, so using these paths may reduce the risk of a bike accident in locations where they exist.
Attorney Blaise Patzkowski is a cyclist and advocate for the rights of injured bicyclists in Southern California. If you or your family member was hurt in a bicycle accident, please contact us to speak with Mr. Patzkowski.
Disclaimer: The information here is general information that should not be taken as legal advice. It cannot be guaranteed to be accurate, current or complete. No attorney-client relationship is established between you and our law firm by reading this article. This article should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a lawyer about the specific facts of your case.