A past post at LADOT Bike Blog adressed sidewalk riding in Los Angeles, prompting reader Joe Linton to ask about the legal status of sidewalk riding in the other cities in Los Angeles County. Even though LADOT – Bikeways jurisdiction ends at the Los Angeles city limits, we understand that our readers bike all over the county. To immerse ourselves solely in Los Angeles-centric issues, without considering what is going in neighboring cities, would be an immense disservice. Bicyclists have no qualms with passing over city lines, and neither should we.
To that end, LADOT Bike Blog will compile sidewalk riding rules for every city in LA County. That’s right, we’re going to wade through all the ordinances and municipal codes on this here blog so you don’t have to. We’ll eventually compile all the results into a handy-dandy spreadsheet for easy reference and maybe even a color-coded map (!!!). If that’s not love, we don’t know what is.
PART 1: The City and inner-ring suburbs
(Ed. Note: Though we’ve linked directly to the municipal code for each city, we’ve also included each chapter and section number for your convenience.)
(Ed. Note 2: This guide is the work of a Student Professional Worker for LADOT – Bikeways. The interpretation of sidewalk-riding ordinances in the cities of Los Angeles County constitute neither legal advice nor LADOT – Bikeways’s stance on sidewalk riding).
(Ed. Note 3: Whew! Let’s get on with it!)
Los Angeles – City:
The City has already been spoken for, but we’re more than happy to cover old ground. Riding on the sidewalk in the City is legal as long as you aren’t being dangerous. If you feel you must ride on the sidewalk, please be extra careful when navigating intersections, driveways, and alleyways. Bikeways, as always, encourages riders to take their rightful place in the street. LAMC Sec. 56.15 lays it out for you:
No person shall ride, operate or use a bicycle, unicycle, skateboard, cart, wagon, wheelchair, rollerskates, or any other device moved exclusively by human power, on a sidewalk, bikeway or boardwalk in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.
Los Angeles – County:
For all those unincorporated slices of LA County, riding your bike on the sidewalk is not allowed. Check out Sec. 15.76.080:
A person shall not operate any bicycle or any vehicle or ride any animal on any sidewalk or parkway except at a permanent or temporary driveway or at specific locations thereon where the commissioner finds that such locations are suitable for, and has placed appropriate signs and/or markings permitting such operation or riding.
So make sure you keep your bike on the street whenever you duck into Universal City, East LA, or Marina Del Rey.
E. The operator of a bicycle shall not ride on the public sidewalk in any business district as prohibited by section 5-6-801 of this title;
So we flip to Sec. 5-6-801, which says:
A. It shall be unlawful for any person to operate, ride, or propel any bicycle, skateboard, roller skates or similar type device on the sidewalk in any business district. For purposes of this section, “business district” shall be defined as designated in section 235 of the state Vehicle Code
So then we have to look up section 235 of the California Vehicle Code(CVC), which says:
235. A “business district” is that portion of a highway and the property contiguous thereto (a) upon one side of which highway, for a distance of 600 feet, 50 percent or more of the contiguous property fronting thereon is occupied by buildings in use for business, or (b) upon both sides of which highway, collectively, for a distance of 300 feet, 50 percent or more of the contiguous property fronting thereon is so occupied. A business district may be longer than the distances specified in this section if the above ratio of buildings in use for business to the length of the highway exists.
Okay, so no sidewalk riding where 50% of the buildings are businesses. But! There’s more. “Business district” is further defined through Sec. 240 of the CVC, which says:
All churches, apartments, hotels, multiple dwelling houses, clubs, and public buildings, other than schools, shall be deemed to be business structures.
This makes sidewalk riding somewhat impractical anywhere other than single family home subdivisions. With all the types of buildings considered part of a “business district”, it’s hard to know when you are (and when you aren’t) in an area that allows sidewalk riding. Play it safe and stay on the street.
Glendale, with an ordinance similar to Beverly Hills, has no sidewalk riding in a business district(Sec. 10.64.025).
No person shall ride or operate a bicycle upon any public sidewalk in any business district within the city except where such sidewalk is officially designated as part of an established bicycle route. Pedestrians shall have the right-of-way on sidewalks. The prohibition in this section shall not apply to peace officers on bicycle patrol.
This would also cover those extra buildings listed in Sec. 240 of the CVC, so be very careful if you choose to ride the sidewalk in Glendale. Biking in LA covered this thorny issue earlier in the year.
West Hollywood (Sec. 15.53.010) is more permissive than Glendale and Beverley Hills. You can ride your bike on the sidewalk, but there are several caveats. Sidewalk riding is only allowed where no bike lane is provided and you must ride with traffic. Yielding to all pedestrians is also required.
It is unlawful for any person to ride or operate a bicycle on or over any sidewalk or part of a sidewalk in the city when there is a designated bicycle lane in the adjoining street. Where there is no designated bicycle lane in the street, bicycle riders riding or operating a bicycle on the sidewalk shall travel in the same direction as traffic in the adjoining lane of traffic, shall yield to pedestrians and shall not ride in a wanton or reckless manner as to endanger any person or property.
Culver City is trickier in their wording on sidewalk riding. Let’s dive in to Sec. 7.04.250, shall we?
A. No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within any business district or upon the sidewalk adjacent to any public school building, church, recreation center or playground or upon a walkway specifically designated by resolution of the City Council as closed to all vehicular or bicycle traffic.
B. Whenever any person is riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk such person shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and when overtaking and passing a pedestrian, after giving an audible signal, shall at all times pass to the left of such pedestrian.
Culver City is similar to Glendale and Beverly Hills, but their code has even more caveats with their inclusion of schools, rec centers and playgrounds as areas that also prohibit sidewalk riding. It would be hard to continually ride on the sidewalk in Culver City without committing an infraction. When you do ride on the sidewalk, make sure you pass pedestrians correctly.
Santa Monica is a n0-no for sidewalk riding. It is very clearly not allowed (Sec. 3.12.540):
(a) It shall be unlawful to ride a bicycle or to coast in any vehicle upon any public sidewalk, except as provided for in Section 3.12.550. It shall be unlawful to ride a bicycle or to coast in any vehicle in any public parking structure.
Well, what about Sec. 3.12.550? It only deals with the bike path on the beach promenade. Bummer.
Inglewood does not allow sidewalk riding for any type of vehicle (Sec. 3-22):
Except for members of the Police Department and Recreation, Parks and Community Service Department, it shall be unlawful to operate a vehicle, bicycle, wagon or other moving device within any sidewalk area or any parkway except at a permanent or temporary driveway. A “temporary driveway” for the purposes of this section is defined to mean a crossing or driveway suitable planked or otherwise protected to prevent injury to the curb or sidewalk.
To wrap up:
Sidewalk Riding is allowed
- LA City
- West Hollywood (with extra rules)
Sidewalk Riding is not allowed
- LA County
- Santa Monica
Sidewalk Riding is not allowed in “business districts”, among other rules
- Beverly Hills
- Culver City
Next week, we’ll tackle the Valley as well as North and West LA County. Ride safe out there!