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Old 07-19-05, 12:20 PM   #1
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California Bike Law Question

Is it illegal in California to ride a bike in a crosswalk?
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Old 07-19-05, 01:32 PM   #2
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It depends on the locality. The question of riding on the sidewalk came up recently, and someone went to the local police. The vehicle code does not prohibit sidewalk riding, but some localities do. If it's illegal to ride on the sidewalk, it's questionable whether riding in the crosswalk would be legal. Going faster than walkers do wouldn't be very safe anyway.
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Old 07-19-05, 01:57 PM   #3
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If my memory serves me correctly, it is illegal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk by state law. I looked this up on the state web site. I think that the law does state that a local goverment may designate that certain paths (or even all sidewalks in that jurisdiction) can be ridden on.

Try searching the state web site for this information to find out for sure.
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Old 07-19-05, 03:58 PM   #4
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You have it backwards. It's legal to cycle on sidewalks unless explicitly posted otherwise. I've never heard of sidewalk cycling being banned in any residential area.
Business areas... yes, in many.

Section 21663 prohibit motor vehicles from being driven on sidewalks:

Quote:
21663. Except as expressly permitted pursuant to this code, including Sections 21100. 4 and 21114.5, no person shall operate or move a motor vehicle upon a sidewalk except as may be necessary to enter or leave adjacent property.
http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21663.htm


However, the driver's manual seems to contradict this:
Quote:
[Cyclists] must ride in a straight line as near to the right curb or edge of the roadway as practical— not on the sidewalk.
http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/hdbk/pgs55thru57.htm#bike

But I can't find a law that the sidewalk cycling admonition is based on. By the way, the "must ride in a straight line as near to the right curb or edge" statement is overly simplified compared to what the law actually says with respect to this issue too. In particular, the list of exceptions in the actual law is so long that this admonition is rendered practically meaningless.

Serge
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Old 07-19-05, 04:47 PM   #5
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I think the sidewalk law thing is local... and many cities have laws against it.

For instance in San Diego:

§84.09 Bicycle Riding Restricted
(a) No person shall operate a bicycle upon any sidewalk fronting any commercial
business establishment unless official signs are posted authorizing such use.
(b) Any person riding or operating a bicycle on any sidewalk or right of way not
open to public vehicular traffic shall exercise due care and shall yield the right
of way to pedestrians.
(c) No person shall operate a bicycle on any sidewalk or right of way not open to
public vehicular traffic at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent
having due regard for pedestrian traffic and in no event at a speed which
endangers the safety of persons or property.
(d) No person shall operate a cycle, with the sole exception of bicycles of
conventional structure, designed to carry only one person or two persons, one
behind the other with wheels one behind the other, upon the most westerly
public walkway between San Diego Place and Law Street, known as Ocean
Front Walk or Ocean Boulevard, and the most easterly public walkway
between San Diego Place and Santa Rita Place, known as Bayside Walk. This
subsection shall not apply to persons disabled or otherwise physically
incapable of operating a conventionally designed bicycle.

Now the most interesting thing is that just before that local code is this one pertaining to Vehicles:

§84.04 Riding or Driving on Sidewalk
It shall be unlawful for any person to ride, drive, propel, or cause to be propelled any
vehicle or animal across or upon any sidewalk excepting over permanently
constructed driveways and excepting when it is necessary for any temporary purpose
to drive a loaded vehicle across a sidewalk; provided further, that proper protection
against sidewalk damage and pedestrian use be provided.

So I don't believe bike riding on sidewalks is a CVC thing, nor may it be illegal in all locations throughout the city.
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Old 07-19-05, 07:07 PM   #6
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Maybe we should petition our mayor and city council to clarify this... uh, scratch that.
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Old 07-20-05, 11:35 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Maybe we should petition our mayor and city council to clarify this... uh, scratch that.


For those that don't know... San Diego's Mayor just resigned, and a special election is due soon... this was after months of election recounts and judicial debates about the validity of ballots and eligibility of candidates.

So to fill the seat of the vacant mayoral position, a senior city councilman has been put into place... he was just prosecuted for fraud.

Running to fill the empty mayoral seat, among the other candidates are a Motorcycle shop owner, and a Surf shop owner… it is going to be interesting...

Sigh....
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Old 07-20-05, 12:37 PM   #8
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Vote for Richard Rider!
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Old 07-20-05, 01:11 PM   #9
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From the California Motor Vehicle hand book


BICYCLES

Bicyclists on public streets have the same rights and responsibilities as automobile drivers. Bicyclists are part of the normal traffic flow and are entitled to share the road with other drivers. Here are some critical points for drivers and cyclists to remember:

Bicyclists:
must ride in the same direction as other traffic, not against it.
must ride in a straight line as near to the right curb or edge of the roadway as practical— not on the sidewalk.
must make left and right turns in the same way that drivers do, using the same turn lanes.
may legally move left to turn left, to pass a parked or moving vehicle, another bicycle, an animal, or to make a turn, avoid debris, or other hazards.
may choose to ride near the left curb or edge of one-way street.
may use a left turn lane. If the bicyclist is traveling straight ahead, he or she should use a through traffic lane rather than ride next to the curb and block traffic making right turns.
are lawfully permitted to ride on certain sections of freeways, when signs are posted. Be careful when approaching or passing a bicyclist on a freeway.
Drivers must:
look carefully for bicyclists before opening doors next to moving traffic or before turning right.
safely merge toward the curb or into the bike lane.
not overtake a bicyclist just before making a right turn. Merge first, then turn.
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Old 07-20-05, 01:53 PM   #10
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Returning to the question which started this thread, I would apply my usual "spirit of the law" reasoning to cycling in a crosswalk.

Example 1: (longitudinal use) If I am crossing an intersection, I normally want to be in the outer through lane, where I am visible, vehicular, and predictable. However, I can envision a (very rare) scenario under which I might want to ride within a crosswalk running in my direction, but I would be concerned about interference with pedestrians and about motorists not seeing me. One scenario under which I foresee this would be a traffic-calmed intersection with bumped-out curbs, but taking the crosswalk would still leave me with a potentially difficult and dangerous reentry into traffic as I exit the intersection.

Example 2: (transverse crossing) I normally stop behind the limit line, just as when motoring. However, if I can squeeze over the line into a crosswalk to let a motorist turn right on red, and I can do so without obstructing pedestrians, then I would defend this technically slightly illegal, nonvehicular maneuver in the interest of civility and courtesy.
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Old 07-20-05, 01:55 PM   #11
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We are supposed to ride as close to the curb as PRACTICABLE, which is a bit more liberal than PRACTICIAL.
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Old 07-20-05, 02:16 PM   #12
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The authors of the CA driver handbook are pretty fast and loose with how they "simplify" explanation of the law.

For example:


must ride in a straight line as near to the right curb or edge of the roadway as practical— not on the sidewalk.


CA CVC 21202 says:
"Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:"
It then lists four extensive exceptions that effectively render this law meaningless.

http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21202.htm

The above simplification that's in the manual does a great disservice to cyclists and misrepresents our rights. I'm not sure that "as close as practical" and "as close as practicable" are all that different as John E implies (in contrast, "as close as possible " is substantially more restrictive), but ignoring all the exceptions misses the point, I think. They do separately point out some of the exceptions, but far from all (notably missing from the manual, as just one example, is the fact that the law does not apply at all when the cyclist is traveling the same speed as traffic)

In short, I wouldn't use the driver's manual as a source for determining what the law is.
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Old 07-20-05, 02:21 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Litespeed
From the California Motor Vehicle hand book

Drivers must:
look carefully for bicyclists before opening doors next to moving traffic or before turning right.
safely merge toward the curb or into the bike lane.
not overtake a bicyclist just before making a right turn. Merge first, then turn.
Saw a classic "not a clue" situation yesterday... I was driving... (going for a swim actually) and in front of me and to the right (yes, in a BL) were two cyclists ascending a pretty good hill. In front of the cyclists there was a right only lane. The cyclists moved from the BL at the dashed section and into the center of the right only lane... keeping a pace of about 15MPH on this 35MPH road. A motorist who also wanted to turn right, properly merged into the turn only lane in the gap between the two cyclists. I was behind the last cyclist... happily also making a right turn.

Lady slightly forward of me and to my left had been keeping pace with the cyclists in the last hundred feet or so, from before the beginning of the right turn only lane, but she she stayed outside of the right turn lane. Turns her blinkers on, but doesn't try to merge into the right turn lane... there is more than one car length between the cyclist in front me and me. (room for her to merge) We get to the corner, and this lady to my left then tries to cut across the right turn lane in front of me (remember, I am driving... )... making a right turn from the straight thru lanes. She never tried to merge into the lane with the cyclists, even though it was an ordinary right turn lane, and there was room to merge.

Traffic behind me also encouraged her to continue to go straight. She clearly did not merge, nor attempt to, nor plan for it.

The cyclists did everything right, there was nothing wrong with any other motorist that wanted to turn right... they easily merged in with the cyclists... but then there was Ms. clueless...

Guess she never read the handbook... probably skipped those pages as "they were for bicycles..."
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Old 07-20-05, 07:30 PM   #14
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The big question I see is that the cyclists shouldn't be in the right turn lane if they are going straight through.
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Old 07-20-05, 08:07 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dchiefransom
The big question I see is that the cyclists shouldn't be in the right turn lane if they are going straight through.
Believe it or not, I've backed off on this.

Consider a cement truck driver going up a steep hill with a right only where all of the traffic (including him) is going straight. It is reasonable for him to keep right (in the right only lane), at least for a while, before merging left into the through lane where he will slow down the other traffic.

While before I would never get into right only lanes at all when I was going straight, now I do, in some circumstances:
  • The right only lane is relatively long.
  • There is a lot of traffic going straight, and no traffic turning right.
  • I'm traveling significantly slower than traffic.

Under those circumstances I'll get into and stay in the right only lane, merging out only towards the end, or if a right-turner shows up, whichever happens first, just as I would if I was driving a slow truck (hence it's "vehicular").

Serge
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Old 07-20-05, 08:40 PM   #16
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Yeah, but you get into the left of the right turn lane, right Serge? Not the right edge of the right turn lane.

I'm not sure why anyone would want to ride their bike in the cross walk. Why do you want to do this? Are you using the crosswalk because you need to push the button to trigger the light? I have had nothing but trouble riding in the cross walk. Pedestrians get confused, and right turning motorists on the other end turn into me. So I walk in the cross walk, as clumsy as it is to get started on the other side (recumbent=clumsy starts). You should walk in the cross walk whether or not it is legal. It is safer.

Also, if you are using the cross walk instead of a left turn lane, you are better off using the left turn lane if you can.

I can't see why you would use a cross walk ever to go in the direction you already are going, unless you are riding on the sidewalk. That isn't safe, you know. You are usually better off in the road. Yes, I know there are some places where it is better on the sidewalk. In those cases I don't ride in the cross walk unless there are no pedestrians anywhere, and even then, very carefully because motorists won't see you there if you are going fast.
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Old 07-20-05, 08:41 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Believe it or not, I've backed off on this.

Consider a cement truck driver going up a steep hill with a right only where all of the traffic (including him) is going straight. It is reasonable for him to keep right (in the right only lane), at least for a while, before merging left into the through lane where he will slow down the other traffic.

While before I would never get into right only lanes at all when I was going straight, now I do, in some circumstances:
  • The right only lane is relatively long.
  • There is a lot of traffic going straight, and no traffic turning right.
  • I'm traveling significantly slower than traffic.

Under those circumstances I'll get into and stay in the right only lane, merging out only towards the end, or if a right-turner shows up, whichever happens first, just as I would if I was driving a slow truck (hence it's "vehicular").

Serge
That merging out toward the end has to be done carefully, since it would involve changing lanes by crossing a solid white line.
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Old 07-21-05, 01:18 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dchiefransom
The big question I see is that the cyclists shouldn't be in the right turn lane if they are going straight through.
The cyclists were turning right... just like all the motorists that properly merged into the right turn lane with the cyclists. They did nothing wrong, neither did the other properly mergering motorists. They all acted in a proper vehicular manner.

The woman that did not merge and attempted to turn right from the straight thru lane and tried to cut me off (I was in an auto) did not have a clue.
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