Bicycles are great for travel because of their versatility. However, there is the matter of whether we are allowed to pass through certain areas with them. One that is important to consider is “is it illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk?”
It is permitted by law in many states, but there are some where it is prohibited. Keep reading to learn more.
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Legality of Riding Bicycles on the Sidewalk
There are different reasons why people may want to ride bicycles on the sidewalk; it could seem safer compared to the road, or it could be the quickest way to get to their destination.
However, commuting on sidewalks could be illegal the way it is not legal to ride a bike without a helmet. It all comes down to your location.
Biking on the sidewalk is not illegal in many states, but each has its own laws and guidelines. Two states that allow bikes on sidewalks may view things differently, where one regards cycles as vehicles while the other regards cyclists as pedestrians.
There is also a difference between being allowed and not being prohibited. Some states specifically permit it, while others simply do not specify that cyclists are not allowed to ride a bike on the sidewalk.
Below is a table showing bike on sidewalk legality per state. We threw in D.C. even though it’s not a state for good measure.
|STATE||IS IT LEGAL||NOTES|
|Alaska||Allowed||Allowed except in designated business areas|
|Arizona||Not covered||Bicycles are not considered vehicles|
|Arkansas||Not covered||– Cyclists are considered pedestrians.
– Some cities and localities prohibit it.
|California||Not covered||– Some cities such as LA allow it.
– A few cities ban cyclists from using sidewalks.
|Colorado||Allowed||– Bicycles are among the vehicles allowed the use of sidewalks.
– Area restrictions may apply.
– May need to dismount before crosswalk entry
|Connecticut||Allowed||Permitted but must adhere to rules of local jurisdictions, such as yielding to pedestrians|
|Delaware||Allowed||– Cyclists are given pedestrian rights.
– Permitted except in business districts or when bike lanes are available
|District of Columbia||Allowed||Allowed but with strict cycling rules (yielding to pedestrians, not riding in the Business District)|
|Florida||Allowed||Cyclists have pedestrian rights.|
|Georgia||Prohibited||Exceptions apply only to persons aged 12 and below.|
|Hawaii||Allowed||– 10mph speed limit imposed
– Motorized bikes not included
|Idaho||Allowed||– Cyclists must use audible signals.
– Prohibition in some areas for traffic control
|Illinois||Allowed||Similar to Idaho|
|Indiana||Not covered||State defers to local laws.|
|Kansas||Not covered||Distinguishes bicycles from vehicles but applies rights and responsibilities of motorists|
|Kentucky||Allowed||– Allowed unless local laws prohibit it
– Must bike slowly
|Maryland||Prohibited||May be allowed through local ordinance|
|Massachusetts||Allowed||Prohibited for business districts in Massachusetts|
|Michigan||Allowed||Required to use audible signals|
|Minnesota||Allowed||Must signal pedestrians before passing or overtaking|
|Missouri||Allowed||– Prohibited in business districts
– No motorized bikes on sidewalks
|Montana||Allowed||– Cyclists have the same duties and rights as pedestrians.|
|Nebraska||Allowed||– Pedestrians and cyclists have the same rights|
|New Jersey||Not covered||Often prohibited by local laws|
|New Mexico||Not covered|
|New York||Not covered||Okay in select areas in New York state|
|North Carolina||Not covered|
|Ohio||Not covered||Often banned locally|
|Oklahoma||Not covered||Restrictions apply in most large cities|
|Oregon||Allowed||– Permitted under specific conditions
– Must exercise caution when exiting crosswalks
– Use of audible warnings
– Need to limit bike speed to walking pace
|Pennsylvania||Allowed||Audible signals required|
|Rhode Island||Allowed||Okay, but local restrictions apply.|
|South Dakota||Allowed||Must stop before entering or exiting crosswalks|
|Texas||Not covered||Often prohibited locally|
|Utah||Allowed||Use of audible signals and reduced speed|
|Virginia||Allowed||Cyclists are pedestrians, but standard requirements such as yielding the right of way apply.|
|Washington||Allowed||Fines apply for failure to yield to pedestrians.|
|West Virginia||Not covered||Must adhere to local guidelines|
|Wisconsin||Allowed||Must signal before passing|
States without bicycle laws that explicitly allow or prohibit using sidewalks make the practice technically legal, unless prohibited locally.
Are there exceptions?
Cities and localities may have ordinances that deviate from state guidelines, similar to how state law applies in Phoenix may not be the case in Oklahoma City. The best way to go about this is to consider each city or locality as having its own set of rules and adapt accordingly.
Some standard guidelines apply: these include cyclists needing to yield to pedestrians and the use of signals. Other bike rules include slowing down before turning or switching lanes.
Consequences of riding bikes on the sidewalk
You will need to bike on a sidewalk at some point if you cycle often. Here are some things you will need to deal with if you do.
- The right of way belongs to pedestrians, so be prepared to yield.
- Sidewalk riding makes bicycles less visible to motorists, putting you at risk.
- Uneven surfaces on sidewalks are a notable threat that may result in accidents.
- Bicycles need to go slow for everyone’s safety, so prepare to take more time traveling.
Alternatives and tips for cyclists
- It is sometimes illegal to ride on the sidewalk if a bike lane is available, so take that option when you can.
- Use the sidewalk sparingly, just a few blocks at a time, and only if you really need to.
- When going through sidewalks where it is prohibited to ride, get off and walk the bike.
If you were wondering “Is it illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk?” now you know that rules vary depending on state or locality. However, the question of whether you should do it is another matter that you should consider carefully.
Do you ride your bike on sidewalks? What considerations do you take when doing so, and how is it compared to riding on the road? Tell us your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.
Always ride safely.
“Bike commuting should be the trend for the next few years, and it is a convenient and eco-friendly way for us to travel. And we are here to make it a bit less troublesome for people who want to maintain their vehicle for a long time. So, the content I expect to put out here is offering help for bikers who are facing issues with parts of their bikes once in a while. Let’s have fun and protect the environment together!”