Is It Illegal to Ride a Bike on The Sidewalk

Updated on June 9, 2022

Consequently, bicycles are treated as vehicles on the street and highway. They’re treated as pedestrians on the sidewalks. Bike riders must “yield the right of way to any person,” as well as “provide audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian” when riding on a sidewalk. When it comes to driving speed, mimicking pedestrians is a good strategy.

Things You Need To Know About Cycling On The Sidewalk

1. Bicyclists feel safer, but pedestrians feel endangered

Young mom Lukia Eccleston, who typically walks around Washington, D.C., describes it as “like a car on the sidewalk.”

It’s dangerous to stroll on the sidewalk because “they [bicyclists]” are coming from behind and nearly striking you.

Sarah Dale, a bicyclist, notes that pedestrians express their displeasure at bicycles on the sidewalk. In spite of this, she still chooses to ride her bike on the sidewalk when traffic is moving too quickly for her comfort.

It’s not uncommon for pedestrians to raise their fists at cyclists while they’re on the sidewalk, Dale adds.

2. Everything is not as it seems

Even when there are many cars on the road, bicycles may prefer to ride on the sidewalk. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration estimates that auto accidents cause 29 percent of injuries to bicyclists.

A automobile can’t be avoided even if you’re on the sidewalk. Bicyclists are invisible to drivers who don’t expect to see them at intersections and driveways because of sidewalks.

When 62-year-old Timothy Donelson was sidewalk cycling in 2014, he learned this lesson the hard way.

“I was going to cross the street from the sidewalk when I heard a noise. Suddenly, a car came out of nowhere and smashed into me as I crossed the street “Donelson believes this to be the case. Donelson was taken to the hospital with back injuries after he was struck by a car.

3. Protected bike lanes are proven to reduce sidewalk cycling

When compared with traditional bike lanes, protected bike lanes isolate riders from vehicles by design.

NPR/Parth Shah

Bike infrastructure has grown dramatically in cities across the country over this time period.. The number of bike lanes is one of the fastest-growing regions. There are currently 78 miles of bike lanes in Washington, D.C., compared to just three miles in 2001.

Only six of the 78-mile stretch is fenced off.

A protected bike lane includes a physical barrier that protects bikers from vehicles, unlike the usual white line painted on the side of the road. According to D.C. Department of Transportation data, protected bike lanes reduced sidewalk bicyclists by 56%.

4. Bye bye parallel parking space

A standard bike lane in D.C. costs $50,000 per mile. It costs $180,000 to build a mile of dedicated bike lanes.

Cost is an important factor, but it is not the only one to take into account.

Jim Sebastian, a mobility planner for the Department of Transportation (DDOT), says, “We just don’t have room to do them on every street.”

Protected bike lanes reduce parking availability in densely populated areas. Creating enough space for the protected lane necessitates a major overhaul of the roads.

Protected bike lanes are becoming more popular around the country, despite D.C.’s lack of investment. Protected bike lanes have more than doubled in the United States since 2011, according to the advocacy group PeopleForBikes.

5. Protected bike lanes aren’t the only solution

In Washington, D.C., police officers commute by bicycle. In everything but the central business district, it is permissible to ride a bicycle on city sidewalks.

NPR/Parth Shah

Members of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association agree that bike lanes should be constructed in a fashion that considers the road’s overall layout. There are places where protected bike lanes aren’t necessary, even if they have been demonstrated to reduce sidewalk riding and increase bicycle use.

“A bike lane that’s simply paint is OK if automobiles aren’t driving fast and there are lots of people,” he remarked.

Bike-friendly communities, according to proponents like Browne, should build a network of traditional, well-lit cycle lanes as well as bike paths.

Is it illegal to ride a bike on a sidewalk?

Whether or not it’s against the law varies per city.

It is unlawful to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk in New York City unless you are 12 or younger and the wheel diameter is smaller than 26 inches.

Biking on the sidewalk is legal in numerous states, including Colorado, Florida, Michigan, and South Dakota.

What states prohibit riding bikes on sidewalks?

On the sidewalks of the following cities, bicycles are not permitted: Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and West Virginia.

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