Is It Legal to Ride Your Bike on the Sidewalk in Irvine, CA?

Is It Legal to Ride Your Bike on the Sidewalk in Irvine, CA?

Irvine might be the most bicycle-friendly city in Orange County, California.

I lived in Irvine for more than two years, and one of the big benefits of the master-planned community is that it was designed with an eye toward bicycle safety and bike-ability. According to the City of Irvine, there are over 286 lane miles of on-street bikeways and more than 113 miles of off-street bikeways in Irvine. For a city that is 66 square miles in size, 399 miles of bike routes is rather impressive.

But even a safety-focused personal injury attorney like me who sticks to designated bike paths as much as possible will in some locations in Irvine find no bike path to ride on. If your bike ride starts from your house, you may have to ride a mile or two to get onto the nearest bike path.

And after a cyclist gets onto a bike path, the network of bike paths in Irvine is not fully built out and interconnected. For example, the San Diego Creek Trail does not directly connect with the Shady Canyon Trail Bikeway. This forces bicyclists to either ride on nine-lane Sand Canyon over the 405 Freeway, or detour onto the Freeway Trail which takes you a mile or two in the wrong direction.

Since bicyclists cannot ride entirely on designated bike paths in Irvine, this raises the question of whether it is legal for bicyclists in Irvine to ride their bike on the sidewalk. As a cyclist, riding on the sidewalk makes the risk of a car accident lower than riding in the street, with a curb and a few extra feet separating your bike from cars driving 50+ miles per hour down Barranca Parkway.

Bicyclists in Irvine, CA Can Legally Ride their Bike on the Sidewalk (Most of the Time)

For the most part, it is legal to ride a bike on the sidewalk in Irvine, California.

The Irvine Municipal Code section 4-7-210 "Riding on sidewalks, playgrounds, etc." states:

  •  A. Riding of bicycles on any sidewalk or roadway is permitted unless prohibited by appropriate signs authorized pursuant to the terms of this division.
  •  B. Whenever any person is riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk, such person shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing pedestrians.
  •  C. No person shall ride or operate a bicycle upon any playground, park or school ground not designated as a bicycle path or route, where children are playing, without first having secured the permission of the persons having supervision of the playground, park or school ground.

When biking in Irvine, watch out for signs prohibiting riding on the sidewalk. If there aren't any, it is legal to bike on the sidewalk. Of course, you will need to yield to pedestrians on the sidewalk. Also, you cannot ride your bicycle at a playground, park, or school where children are playing without permission from a playground supervisor.

When Riding a Bike in the Road

The City of Irvine has a different set of rules for when a bicyclist is riding their bike in the road. Irvine Municipal Code section 4-7-208 "Leaving bicycle lane" provides:

A. Whenever a bicycle lane has been established, any person operating a bicycle upon the roadway at a speed of less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction shall ride within the bicycle lane, except that such person may move out of the lane under any of the following situations:

  1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle, vehicle, or pedestrian within the lane or about to enter the lane if such overtaking and passing cannot be done safely within the lane.
  2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
  3. When reasonably necessary to leave the bicycle lane to avoid debris or other hazardous conditions.
  4. When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

B. No person operating a bicycle within a bicycle lane shall leave such lane until movement can be made with reasonable safety, and then only after giving the appropriate signal in the manner provided in Vehicle Code div. 11, ch. 6 (Vehicle Code § 22100 et seq.) in the event that any vehicle may be affected by the movement.

In short, if you're riding your bike on the road and there is a bicycle lane, you need to use it. There are exceptions for passing, making left turns, avoiding dangerous roadway conditions, and at right turns.

Knowing the law is harder for bicyclists than drivers because each city has its own municipal regulations regarding bicycling, while the California Vehicle Code regulates driving uniformly up and down the state. Being familiar with local bike laws can not only help you avoid getting a ticket, it can reduce your risk of being hit by a car and needing an Orange County personal injury lawyer like me.

Costa Mesa bike accident lawyer Blaise Patzkowski is a cyclist and advocate for the rights of injured bicyclists and pedestrians in Southern California. If you or a family member was injured in a bicycle or pedestrian accident, please contact Mr. Patzkowski for a free consultation. 

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.

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Blaise Patzkowski has been helping
Orange County, Los Angeles, and Inland Empire accident victims for over ten years.
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