Legally there’s no universal answer to if you can ride your bike on the sidewalk. The right answer depends on the rules and regulations of your state of residency although they can be hazy.
The different states of the US have laws that protect them and they are different by state. One of those laws directs riding on the sidewalk. Each state has its rules regarding riding on the sidewalk so depending on your state you can ride or not.
In this article, we’ll look at why it’s illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk and the things you need to know about riding your bike on the sidewalk.
Is It Illegal To Ride Your Bike On The Sidewalk?
It is only illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk of your state if the state has laws against doing such. It will not be illegal if the state has relaxed laws on riding on the sidewalk or if there are no laws in place.
Some places feel the need to be more proactive when it comes to interactive settings. In these places, the way bikers approach shared routes with pedestrians is governed by formal sidewalk riding laws.
As with bicycle/automobile traffic laws, you should know what to do ahead of time to improve your safety and chances of not breaking the law.
Before you ride your bike on a sidewalk, you should confirm if you’re allowed to do so to be on the safe side of the law and don’t pay any fine for breaking the law.
7 Things You Need To Know About Riding Your Bike On A Sidewalk
Many bikers are faced with the issue of riding on the road or the sidewalk. This has caused a debate among people as to where the rider should follow.
To make things easier for the reader, let’s look at the things you need to know about riding on the sidewalk.
1. Check State Laws
Before you ride your bike on the sidewalk, you need to check your state and local bicycle laws to know if it’s legal to ride on the sidewalk in your area.
2. Look Out For Your Safety
While riding on the sidewalk, you have to look out for vehicles backing out or turning into their driveway.
Alert pedestrians that you’re approaching from behind using a bell. You can also go a step further by informing them if you’re approaching from the left or right.
3. The Way Belongs To Pedestrians
Check the local laws to confirm who has the right of way on the sidewalk. The general idea behind the creation of a sidewalk is for walking. Which gives pedestrians the right of way.
You have to look out for pedestrians when riding and alert any distracted persons with a bell to avoid a collision.
4. Sidewalks Can Be Dangerous For Bikers
Even though the sidewalk looks safe for riders, that’s not always the case. Riders can be victims of accidents due to cracks and uneven sections in the concrete.
Also, cars exiting and entering their driveway can be dangerous for riders. This is because these drivers are not looking out for bikers when entering or exiting their driveway.
5. Transitioning To Crosswalks Can Be Difficult
Car drivers may be looking out for pedestrians using the sidewalks but they may not be expecting bike riders who would be coming at a 10-20 mph speed before entering the sidewalk.
Therefore before you ride into the road, you need to check on oncoming traffic. Also, you can wreck your bike while transitioning due to the uneven edge of the pavement.
So it may be better to walk your bike across a busy intersection than to ride it across, especially when crossing several lanes of traffic with pedestrians.
6. Ride at a Walking Speed
Ride at a walking speed if you want to ride on a sidewalk. Moving at a slow pace allows you to be more aware of your environment and stop you from crashing with pedestrians and vehicles.
It also reduces the risks of accidents caused by sidewalk conditions or hazards.
7. Sidewalks Are Not The Best Choice For Exercising
If you’re looking to stay in shape and exercise while riding your bike, then the sidewalk is not the best option.
When you ride on the sidewalk, you slow down and stop more often than necessary. This does not allow you to get a good workout unlike when you ride on the road or trail.
What states is it illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk?
Here are the states that do not allow riding bikes on sidewalks:
- New Hampshire,
- New Jersey,
- New Mexico,
- North Carolina,
- North Dakota,
- South Carolina,
- Vermont, and
- West Virginia.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk in New York State?
The NY Vehicle and Traffic Law does not expressly regulate sidewalk cycling. However, NY General Municipal Law (Section 180)6 states that NY municipalities can regulate bike riding on sidewalks.
They cannot mandate cyclists to use a sidewalk instead of a public roadway, but they can impose limits on sidewalk cycling.
So it is up to individual municipalities to regulate sidewalk cycling as they see fit.
Can you ride a bike on the California Sidewalk?
Yes, it is legal. However, it depends on where you are. There is no statewide law prohibiting this act.
There’s a California Vehicle Code Section 21206 that allows local governments to regulate the operations of bicycles on sidewalks.
In Los Altos, there are no restrictions. In Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Santa Clara County, they define restrictions, but Los Altos Hills does not.
Palo Alto prohibits bicycles in business districts and has specific regulations for some Alma Street under crossings.
Can you ride a bike on the sidewalk in Philadelphia?
Under Philadelphia law, you cannot ride a bike on the sidewalk in business districts. You cannot also ride where bike lanes are provided.
You can only ride on sidewalks if you have been permitted by official traffic control devices. Also, people who are younger than 13 yrs are an exception.
Instead of using the sidewalks, you can use the route near the curb on the city streets and in-bike-protected lanes.
Can you ride a bike on the sidewalk in Georgia?
Riding on the sidewalk in Georgia is banned statewide if you’re over 12. You can only ride on the sidewalk if you’re permitted by specific local ordinances.
You have to check the local ordinance for a variation of this rule. Bike riders must ride in the same direction as the traffic flow. Even when riding in bike lanes.
Can you ride a bike on the sidewalk in the UK?
No, you cannot ride a bike on the sidewalk or footpath in the UK. You can only ride your bike in pedestrian areas if there are not too many people there.
If there are many individuals on the pedestrian lane you have to dismount your bike and push it. If there is signage that says no riding of bike at all, then you have to respect the law.
Can you ride the bike on the sidewalk in Virginia?
You may ride your bike on the sidewalk except it is prohibited by traffic control devices or local ordinances.
When riding on the sidewalk, the riders must respect the pedestrian and yield the right of way. You must also give an audible sign before riding past a pedestrian.
You have to check the local ordinance for a variation of this rule and must ride with the flow of traffic to the right side of the way.
Local department of transportation officials encourage bike riders to ride slowly and yield to pedestrians when they take the sidewalk.
While in some states pedestrians have the right of way and you cannot ride on the sidewalk. Before you take to riding the sidewalk in any state ensure you’re permitted to do so.
Also, take note of the things you need to know before riding on a sidewalk.