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City Looking to Slow Sidewalk Cyclists

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, November 10, 2011, at 10:35AM
7th Street Cyclist Eric Richardson / blogdowntown

A cyclist rides on the sidewalk while crossing the 110 freeway on 7th Street in 2010. This year, bike lanes were installed on the street west of Figueroa.

Cyclists who ride their bikes on the sidewalk could be required to slow to walking pace when near pedestrians under proposed new rules that went to the city council's transportation committee on Wednesday.

California's vehicle code allows a cyclist to operate as either a vehicle or a pedestrian and gives individual cities the right to decide how riding on sidewalks should be governed.

Los Angeles allows cyclists on the sidewalks—as it does unicycles, skateboards, carts, wagons, wheelchairs, rollerskates and "any other device moved exclusively by human power"—only forbidding actions that show a "willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or properties."

Revised rules proposed by the city's transportation department would require that cyclists slow to a walking pace when near pedestrians, when entering a driveway and when entering an intersection.

They would also clarify the city's rules on forbidding sidewalk riding in specific business districts or on heavily congested streets.

At Wednesday's hearing, Councilman Bill Rosendahl asked that a provision be added to allow sidewalk riding when a cyclist is avoiding a hazard, regardless of whether it is otherwise forbidden.

Councilman Paul Koretz, who called himself "probably a good example of someone who would ride on the sidewalk," questioned whether the three mile-per-hour walking speed specified by the transportation department was reasonable for commuting cyclists. Councilman Bernard Parks, however, noted that the required speed should be kept low to encourage cyclists to ride in the street instead of on the sidewalk.

The City Attorney's office should return a draft ordinance to the committee early next year.

Staff Report on Revising Sidewalk Cycling Rules

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