Riding a Bicycle on a Sidewalk and Against the Flow of Traffic Does Not Violate California Vehicle Code

By May 21, 2013 September 15th, 2020 Personal Injury Questions and Answers
Biking on Sidewalk Law in Los Angeles

When a bicyclist is injured while riding a bicycle against the flow of the traffic on a sidewalk or a crosswalk, defendant will likely attempt to skirt liability by claiming that the bicyclist was negligent because he violated California Vehicle Code Section 21650.1.

Specifically, section 21650.1 states:

“A bicycle operated on a roadway, or the shoulder of a highway, shall be operated in the same direction as vehicles are required to be driven upon the roadway.”

Notably, the statutory language does not include terms such as a “sidewalks” or crosswalks.”  And the legal definition of “roadway” does not include sidewalks.  For instance, Vehicle Code section 530 defines “roadway” as “a portion of highway improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel.”  Thus, a sidewalk is not a roadway.

Similarly, section 555 defines “sidewalk” as “portion of highway, other than the roadway, set apart by curbs, barriers, markings or other delineation for pedestrian travel.” And, section 275 of the vehicle code defines “crosswalk” as “that portion of a roadway within the prolongation or connection of the boundary lines of sidewalks at the intersection.” Thus, it is clear from reading the unambiguous statutory language of sections 275 and 555 that sidewalks and crosswalks are not considered roadway or shoulder of a highway. Therefore, section 21650.1 does not apply to bicyclists traveling on the sidewalks against the flow of traffic.

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