LA County Sidewalk Riding: Epilogue

Now that we’ve come to the end of our sidewalk riding series for LA County, we’d like to provide you with some easy reference tools. Brand new developments are:

  • A pdf with alphabetic listings of each category for sidewalk riding and the corresponding citation in that city’s municipal code.
  • A color coded map showing which cities allow sidewalk riding, which don’t, and which restrict riding in a “business district”.
  • Another “page” at the top of the blog, keeping all sidewalk riding information one place.

Check the map out for yourself

It’s interesting to note that the cities which don’t allow sidewalk riding are often bunched together, like Inglewood, Hawthorne, Lawndale & Gardena or the cities grouped around the Pomona Freeway.

The final tally came out to:

  • Sidewalk riding allowed: 12 cities
  • Sidewalk riding not allowed: 32 cities & LA County
  • Sidewalk riding not allowed in “business districts”: 25 cities
  • No clear language in the municipal code: 19 cities

In some of the cities in LA County, this could be you.

Well … So What?

It’s understandable to have gotten through all seven parts of the LA County Sidewalk Riding series and not thought much of it at the end.  It’s nice that we put all that information together, but why should someone care about it?

Jigsaw Jurisdiction

If you take a close look at the sidewalk riding map, you’ll see quite a jumble of rules and regulations across LA County.  Think about if that jumble were applied to another moving vehicle, like, say, a car.  What would it be like were the “right turn on red” law to be applied city by city instead of state by state?  Endless accidents by drivers unsure of what to do next; lawsuits; deaths; lots and lots of tickets for moving violations; it would be total chaos.  Traffic rules demand a certain amount of uniformity, which is why most guidelines governing how cars move through space are dictated at the state level.

So how did this all come about?  Why are there a hodgepodge of rules governing how bicycles are allowed to move through cities?  Most ordinances dealing with bicycles were put in place when cities first began to think about bicycles.  In the past there has been a lot of uncertainty about what, exactly, it meant to ride a bicycle.  Is it recreational?  Is it a legitimate form of transportation?  Are bicyclists more like pedestrians, or more like vehicles?  As different cities wrestled with what it meant to ride a bicycle, different rules for riding on the sidewalk were created.  When (admittedly, only some) cities began to recognize bicycles as a legitimate form of transportation, they were often still left with the vestiges of an older understanding and ideology towards bicycles in their ordinances regarding sidewalk riding.  And without a statewide guideline for riding on the sidewalk, it will stay that way.

If bicycles are supposed to be considered vehicles with responsibilities and rights equal to automobiles, like CVC 21200 states, then bicyclists deserve to have rules for their operation that are at least as uniform as the rules for operating an automobile.

The LA County Sidewalk Riding series proves, if nothing else, that we’ve still got a ways to go in that regard.

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