30 June 2008

Cal. Veh. Code § 21202

I've heard a lot of complaints from people in Los Angeles (ahem, drivers) about "those cyclists....why can't they just ride on the sidewalk? I hate it when they block the lanes on the street." Well, folks, the law states that cyclists are allowed, nay, supposed to ride on the streets, not the sidewalk. And even if some sidewalk cyclists actually feel bad for blocking cars in the street and/or are afraid of all the crazy drivers in Los Angeles, think of it this way; riding on the sidewalk is much more hazardous for bikers than riding in the street. Why, you ask? Well, in the street, cars must yield to bikes, but other than that, bikes act just like cars....we follow the flow of traffic, we obey traffic lights, and we generally stay as far right as possible to stay out of a car's path. On the sidewalk, things get a little crazy....bikes must yield to pedestrians, not to mention avoiding newspaper carts, sidewalk cleaners, merchants, restaurants with sidewalk seating and so on. Bikes on the sidewalk risk getting hit by cars entering or leaving a parking lot, or getting tangled up in a dog's leash. Believe it or not, sidewalks actually have much more maintenance issues than streets which are (usually) smoother....and don't even get me started on the crazy people that might purposely try to mess with you on your bike just for being there. Simply put, cyclists should ride on the street, and drivers need to yield to them.

Listen, I know it's frustrating when you're sitting in your car in bumper to bumper traffic and a bike goes whizzing past you. I used to be in that car. And then I bought my bike. I'm not going to lie, it's liberating, not to mention better for my health and the environment. So, I'm sorry, but until we get our own Superhighway, cyclists will be sharing the road with you. If you have any questions about California state laws regarding bikes (which trump local ordinances, by the way), I encourage you to check out the California Vehicle Code - Bike Relevant Sections, and especially Cal. Veh. Code § 21202, which details a cyclist's operation on the roadway. And SHARE THE ROADS!!!

1 comment:

randar said...

thanks for the post. i should print this on little flyers and hand them out to motorists when they yell at me for obeying the law.

although i hate to admit i don't always stop when i should.