Advocacy & Safety - Sidewalks and crosswalks: Legal in CA?
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01-12-06, 09:13 AM
This morning as I was crossing a 3-lane freeway exit with a stop sign (in other words, a BIG road) using the crosswalk, a driver ran the stop sign to cut me off, stopped in front of me, and yelled, "You're not supposed to ride in the crosswalk!!"
A quick search of the California Vehicle Code hasn't helped me determine whether or not I was breaking the law. (He obviously wasn't allowed to run a stop sign to "teach me a lesson", but that isn't the point. I want to know whether I was in the right or wrong in the eyes of the law).
- I had just passed under a freeway underpass where the street and (very wide) sidewalk are separated by a concrete barrier. I deem the underpass far too dangerous to go under in the street, so I ride on the sidewalk, dropping me right at the crosswalk. (I-80 at Gilman for those of you familiar with Berkeley).
- The crosswalk is right across from an entrance to the East Shore bike path in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I'm curious because I've always heard it's illegal to ride on the sidewalk, but I've never seen such a thing in the CVC; in fact, the only section I found on sidewalks is that vehicles on sidewalks must yield the right of way to pedestrians, which I do. My commute takes me one block along a major 4-lane road (so I ride on the sidewalk, since there isn't room for bikes in the lanes), and then later under the underpass (where again I ride on the sidewalk and use the crosswalk).
01-12-06, 09:28 AM
The CVC leaves sidewalk regulation to cities and counties, so check your local ordinances. Many cities will prohibit cycling on sidewalks in "business districts" where there are lots of pedestrians.
The legality of crosswalk cycling in currently ambiguous - it could be argued legal or illegal depending how you read the vehicle codes. FYI, I have heard that Berkeley police consider crosswalk (edit: I previously said sidewalk by mistake) cycling illegal. So if you get hit by a car while riding in a crosswalk in Berkeley, don't expect a favorable police report.
(See edit above.)
01-12-06, 10:12 AM
What LCI said.
Plus, you're gonna take the word of a rude cager? Many of them are oblivious of your rights to the road, or simply don't give a damn. So too many think all bicycles should "get off the road", that "roads are made for cars", ect, and some think they're in the right to play cop and pull the BS that assclown did to you.
Quick edit: I reread and saw where you said you were on the crosswalk. My bad! :o The cager deserves a boot to the head for the rude cop wannabe act, but yeah, I think you'de be better off on the road.
01-12-06, 10:14 AM
Thanks for the reply! Unfortunately, Berkeley Municipal Code specifically forbids riding on the sidewalk. As for crosswalks, my traffic engineer friend made some interesting points:
"1. There is no prohibition against riding in crosswalks any more than
we prohibit cars from driving in or across them. You do not need to
dismount to use a crosswalk. However as a cyclist, you do not get the
legal right of way granted to pedestrians by the California vehicle code
particularly if you came from the sidewalk. If you get off and walk
your bike you become a pedestrian and cars must yield to you.
2. If you ride on the sidewalk but enter the traffic lane before the
crosswalk, you are technically a vehicle on Gilman and cars at the stop
sign must yield to you.
3. The problem arises when you ride from the sidewalk onto the
crosswalk because then you are not a pedestrian and not a through vehicle on
Gilman. In this scenario you lack the right of way accorded to these
groups. At the same time cars at the stop sign have a duty not to (try
to) hit you or threaten you with their vehicle. If the car did not see
you he might not be responsible for hitting you, but if he had time to
yell at you he clearly saw you."
01-12-06, 10:49 AM
Had a similar issue at the Culver/405n onram in irvine. I was actually bumped by some jack hole in a Porsche ( I think cracked the driver window in anger)
I wrote to the City of Irvien expressing my concerns, it was Forwarded to CalTrans. I was specific about that particular on ramp, but lately I notice the problem 0n about 90 percent of freeway onramps. I recieved this reply:
Subject: Culver and 405 on/off ramps and bike path
CC: email@example.com, "Jose Hernandez" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: "Raouf Moussa" <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 2005 10:58:06 -0700
Mr. XXX XXXX of City of Irvine forwarded your complaint to Caltrans for investigation since this location falls within Caltrans jurisdiction. Our field observation of the N/B on-ramp from W/B Culver reveals the
There is a painted pedestrian crosswalk near the on-ramp entrance that could be used by cyclists.
The W/B Culver bike lane is re-routed as you approach the ramp entrance. Such short detour is clearly marked on the pavement directing the bikes to this short off-road route.
This special detour leads the cyclists to the beginning of the Ped. crossing, however, it has the advantage of orienting the cyclists to be at right angle with the ramp traffic, thus give them clear
visibility of the oncoming traffic so they can wait for the appropriate gap.
Cyclists waiting at this point would have excellent visibility that goes to the preceding signalized intersection on Culver east of the freeway.
A warning Ped. symbol sign W11-2 is installed at a proper location to warn the motorists about the potential ped. crossing.
You indicated that "Most cars ignore the crosswalk, and do not yield to pedestrians or cyclists (who have the crossing signal)". The signal at this location is serving the vehicular traffic not the pedestrians.
If motorists are not yielding to peds., it would be an enforcement issue.
The in-pavement flashing light system similar to the one on PCH in Laguna Beach cannot be applied at this location. It is mainly installed at the unsignalized roadway intersections and not at a ramp entrance.
In conclusion, it is our engineering judgement that the referenced crossing has been constructed in accordance with Caltrans design polices and guidelines and that we could not identify any feature that would constitute a safety hazard.
Raouf Moussa, P.E.
Traffic Operations South
01-12-06, 01:29 PM
I've noticed a similar problems at most freeway ramps in the area. The bike lanes approaching the ramps on Irvine Center Drive and I-405 aren't exactly the same as your example, but they are similar in that they expect bicyclists to ride partially down the ramp and use the crosswalk. I'm surprised Caltrans' lawyers aren't nervous about that ... unless they're assuming that cyclists will dismount and walk their bikes across.
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