bicycle on sidewalk

Can I Ride My Bike on the Sidewalk in Santa Monica, CA?

It is against the law to ride a bicycle on a public sidewalk in Santa Monica, California. You might feel that it is safer to ride your bike on the sidewalk than in the street on many of our congested roads, but you will risk getting charged with a criminal offense if you do so. Also, if you get hurt while riding on the sidewalk, you might not get as much compensation, if any, for your injuries.

A California personal injury attorney can talk to you and answer your questions about whether you can write your bike on the sidewalk in Santa Monica, California.

The Santa Monica Ordinance That Prohibits Riding a Bicycle on Public Sidewalks

The Santa Monica Municipal Code contains local traffic regulations, including a regulation that prohibits riding bikes on public sidewalks (SMMC 3.12.540). This rule bars people from riding bicycles or coasting in any type of vehicle on public sidewalks, except on designated and marked bike paths. 

There are a few provisos, however. For example, public safety personnel are allowed to ride bicycles anywhere in the City of Santa Monica, including on public sidewalks, when performing their official duties.

A violation of SMMS 3.12.540 is a misdemeanor. If convicted of this offense, a person could face up to six months in the County Jail, or a fine of no more than $1,000 for each violation, or both a fine and jail time. In the alternative, the individual could be guilty of an infraction and get assessed a fine of between $100 and $250. 

Santa Monica’s traffic ordinances also prohibit these activities involving bicycles:

  • Riding bikes in public parking garages or on the Third Street (Beach) promenade
  • Riding on the handlebars of bicycles, 
  • Holding onto moving vehicles while on a bike, and
  • Operating a pedicab without a valid permit.

Even if you do not receive criminal charges, failing to follow these regulations could hurt you financially.

How Violating the Ordinance Could Affect a Personal Injury Claim

When a person gets injured while committing an illegal act, even a misdemeanor or infraction, the at-fault party could argue that the illegal conduct was a contributing factor to the accident. Breaking the law can be evidence of negligence. 

Let’s say that the driver of a car was speeding when another vehicle ran a red light and hit him. The driver who ran the red light could argue that the speeding was negligence. Negligence can reduce the amount of money the injured individual receives. 

Why Santa Monica Prohibits Bike Riding on Sidewalks

When a person rides a bicycle on the sidewalk, he might strike a pedestrian. There are additional risks of riding a bike on the sidewalk. For example:

  • Since car drivers do not expect bicycles to be on sidewalks, they have a higher likelihood of hitting a bike there because they might not be on the lookout for them. 
  • Parked cars can obstruct a driver’s view of a bike on the sidewalk. 
  • A bicycle rider might not hear a hybrid or electric vehicle coming out of a driveway or turning to drive over the sidewalk.

If you got hurt while riding a bike on the sidewalk or some other prohibited location in Santa Monica, you have a complicated situation. A California personal injury attorney can talk to you about your legal rights, contact our office today.