The law in California regarding bicyclists riding on sidewalks or within crosswalks is unclear as to whether or not the bicyclists are mandated by law to ride, "with", or, "against traffic" as to their direction of travel. California Vehicle Code section 21650.1 states in part, "A bicycle operated on a roadway, or the shoulder of a highway, shall be operated in the same direction as vehicles are required to be driven upon the roadway." Last week a potential client who was involved in a Palm Springs bicycle accident called to discuss his accident and the personal injuries caused by the collision with a car exiting a driveway entering onto North Palm Canyon. This accident happened on the West side of Palm Canyon Drive and the bicycle rider was riding North on the sidewalk, "against" Southbound traffic. The Palm Springs traffic accident report recorded that the bicyclist was at fault as he was in violation of California Vehicle Code section 21650.1, because the bike was not being driven in the same direction as the cars traveling to the right of the bicycle which were traveling Southbound as the bicycle was being driven Northbound. The officer didn't even consider that the car driver was negligent for not looking to his left and right for sidewalk traffic before driving across the sidewalk to enter the roadway of Palm Canyon. The car could have just as easily caused a pedestrian accident instead of the collision with the bicyclist. The pedestrian walking on a sidewalk can legally walk with or against vehicle traffic in the roadway next to the sidewalk.
At the Barry Regar Law Firm we do not simply make our decisions as to accept or reject a new auto accident or bicycle accident case based solely on the conclusions of the investigating traffic officers whom we often find have wrongly concluded which driver was at fault for causing a traffic collision. The California Vehicle Code cited above does not state that a sidewalk is a, "roadway," which means that riding a bicycle on a sidewalk against roadway traffic is not violating Vehicle Code 21650.1 since the word, "sidewalk 'is not used in this code section. One has to read California Vehicle Code Section 555 which defines a, "sidewalk," as "that portion of the highway, other than the roadway, set apart by curbs, barriers, markings or other delineation for pedestrian travel".
As a Palm Springs Personal Injury Lawyer I often find that insurance lawyers and even some judges just do not want to accept the clear intent of the California Legislators when they passed Vehicle Code 21650.1 into law. It is our opinion that bicyclists are not automatically at fault for collisions with cars that occur on sidewalks even if the bicyclist was riding against traffic. All the facts of the accident must be investigated and considered and if the case is tried in front of a jury, that the jury must be given the correct law to decide the case. Below is the Palm Springs Municipal Code section for bicycles.
12.90.010 Bicycles on sidewalk.
(a) Unless otherwise expressly allowed by another provision of this title or other applicable law, no person shall ride a bicycle or unicycle within or on any sidewalk area or parkway except at a permanent or temporary driveway. Bicycles and unicycles may be ridden along portions or segments of sidewalks expressly permitted by resolution of the city council, but not until such sidewalk areas have been appropriately designated by the city engineer with signs or markings to give due notice to the pedestrian and the cycling public.
(b) No person shall ride, operate or use a bicycle or unicycle on a sidewalk or bikeway in a willful or wanton manner or with disregard for the safety of persons or proper.
Notwithstanding the confusing wording of this code section, it should be noted that there is nothing in this code section about riding, "with or against" roadway traffic.
Contact the attorney at Barry Regar A Professional Law Corporation for an in depth review of the police report relating to your auto or bike accident.