Sidewalks are for pedestrians, not bicycles.
New York City law restricts cycling on sidewalks unless a sign allows it or the wheels on your bike are less than 26 inches in diameter and you are under 13 years of age.
Streetsblog crunched the numbers and discovered that police ticketed Black people more frequently than any other race for biking on sidewalks – 86.4 percent of the time.
No matter if you’re taking your bike to work, riding with the kids or getting some exercise on a hot summer day, it’s essential to know the correct way of doing something – especially when it comes to bicycling and sidewalks.
Laws regulating sidewalk cycling are usually determined by local governments. Therefore, you may be perfectly legal to ride your bike on a sidewalk in one city but it might be against the law in another.
In New York State, it is legally prohibited to ride your bicycle on sidewalks unless you are under 12 years old and your wheels measure less than 26 inches across. This is because a collision with a vehicle could result in serious injury or even death. Furthermore, the law requires that there be an adequate distance between bikes and cars in order to prevent collisions.
When riding on sidewalks, you must obey all traffic signals and signs and exercise due caution to avoid colliding with pedestrians, motor vehicles or other cyclists.
When there’s no bike lane or path available, you can ride in the left-turn lane or on the right side of a one-way street (unless there are unsafe conditions that make this impossible).
Be alert for road hazards such as potholes, gravel, puddles, ice, sand, parked cars and blocked paths. When crossing railway tracks on bicycle, be sure to slow down and angle your bicycle so it is exactly perpendicular to them.
When turning, extend your left arm straight out to indicate a left turn and raise your right arm to signal a right turn. You may also use hand signals to let drivers know you are changing lanes. Be sure to look twice and check behind you frequently before making a turn, keeping an eye out for large vehicles such as buses or trucks in the area.
In Rhode Island, when riding your bicycle on a sidewalk you must yield the right of way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before passing them or overtaking other cyclists.
Bicycles on sidewalks are generally allowed, unless a local law or official traffic control device specifically prohibits it. If this is the case, cyclists should not ride their bikes on the sidewalk and should dismount and walk their bicycle across instead.
When bicyclists and motorists share the same lane, road signs must be displayed that clearly show this fact. These usually feature a bicycle symbol and double chevron pattern to designate the travel lane as shared.
Bicyclists may ride two abreast only when there is room in a traffic lane or it is necessary to avoid obstructions. They also have the right to use a shoulder of the road or highway when necessary for safety and there is no travel lane available.
Cyclists must yield the right of way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before passing. The only exceptions are in areas where sidewalk cycling is expressly prohibited by law or official traffic control devices like signs.
In Nevada, bicyclists are allowed to ride on sidewalks as long as they yield to pedestrians and give an audible notification before overtaking them. Additionally, motorists must move over a minimum of three feet for cyclists to pass.
Under California’s bicycling laws, bikes must ride as close to the right-hand side of a road as possible. This means being within three feet of the berth in single-lane roads and five feet from it on multi-lane highways.
Riding on a sidewalk can help avoid having to cross busy streets twice in a short distance, potentially decreasing the risk of left-hook collisions between cyclists and motorists.
Chris is a passionate learner and writer. When he’s not working on his blog or learning something new, he’s a full-time systems administrator and father of two beautiful girls. Chris loves spending time with his family, reading, writing, and playing hockey.