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Can You Ride Your Bike on the Sidewalk? Yes! And No…

Nothing like a tentative title to suck you right in, huh? That in mind, welcome to our firm take on the fluid topic of sidewalk bicycling. Let's begin.

We'll start with what the law says about bikes on sidewalks. After all, that's really the only reason one would ask anyway, so why bury the lede. Legally, there's no universal yes or no here. Rules and regulations depend on your state, but even then they can be hazy.

For example:

  • Kentucky: Nope. As vehicles, bikes are prohibited from riding on sidewalks.
  • Georgia: Also no dice. They're considered vehicles…unless you're under 13. Apparently, then they magically become toys (we guess). Bottom line, kids get a pass.
  • Wisconsin: Maybe? State says no, but local ordinances could say yes.
  • Minnesota: This is permitted. Just know that you have to yield to pedestrians. And give them an audible heads-up when you turn. And stay within a certain speed. OH, and none of this is relevant in heavy business areas because, in an about-face, sidewalks there are off-limits. Have fun.
  • Delaware: Yep, you're good. Unless there's a bike lane. Then use that.
  • Ohio: Go for it!
  • West Virginia: No idea!

Skip to the full list

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what's known as "variety." Why such a spectrum you might ask? Well, certain places feel the need to be more proactive in interactive settings. Formal sidewalk riding laws govern how bikers approach shared routes with pedestrians. It's no different than bicycle/automobile traffic laws: know what to do ahead of time to maximize safety.

Now, if there are no concrete local rules, you may be in a state that takes things on a case-by-case basis. Literally, as in court case. If there's an incident, then either the biker or the biped may be in the wrong depending on how things unfolded.

Takeaway: If cycling the sidewalk is allowed in some way, shape, or form, use common sense.

That's right, common sense. Cue segue.

If You Can Ride Your Bike on the Sidewalk, Should You?

This is a whole different matter with even more gray area than actual bike legislation. Just because you can do something (like, say, ride without a helmet) doesn't mean you should, right?

We won't get existential on you, and we're certainly not going to wag the moral finger. Suffice it to say that, where this is permitted, the decision ought to come down to which option is safer at the moment. Does it make more sense to share the road with motor vehicles or share the sidewalk with people?

There are valid reasons for both.

Why share the road with motor vehicles?

Depending on your location, the street may offer a clearer path. Signs, fire hydrants, utility poles, trash cans….all these and more can create a veritable obstacle course on city sidewalks. Riding in the neighborhood? Now you've got cars backing out of driveways, oblivious youngsters running to and fro, dog walkers, baby carriages, etc. Just remember, even if the rules of the road afford you the same rights as drivers, you're sharing that road with much bigger and faster things than you. Which leads us to…

Why share the sidewalk with people?

It's one thing to cruise through a 25mph school zone. It's quite another to jump into the job commute with nothing but a piece of aluminum and a prayer separating you from the emergency room. Even the strictest road cyclist knows there can be dangerous situations when prudence calls for a break from the blacktop. If you do cross the curb, remember that sidewalks are meant for walking. They weren't built for pedalers, so yield to pedestrians and suppress your inner speed demon until it's safe to re-join the roadsters.

Should My Kids Be Riding on the Sidewalk?

Good question. If your community allows for it, then sure! If you're in a state that technically doesn't permit sidewalk riding regardless of age, then our official answer is, well, no.

BUT, if we may say it yet again, use common sense.

For instance, what about kids on training wheels or balance bikes? Do we really want them learning how to ride in the street if there's a safer option three feet away? Or how about transitioning from coaster to hand brakes? It's preferable for them to bug out over grass if they panic than to pinball from one parked car to another pedaling madly in reverse.

We're all for encouraging kids to ride their bikes. However, you obviously don't want to put them in danger or turn them off from the joys of two-wheeling because they're terrified of another concrete spill. Striking the right balance—isn't that what parenting's all about?

At the end of the day, it's all right if you're unsure where you can or can't bike (you're not alone). There are numerous local resources at your disposal that can answer your sidewalk-riding questions:

  • Government (e.g., Dept. of Public Safety)
  • Attorneys specializing in bicycle law
  • Law enforcement
  • Riding club or bicycle association
  • Bike shops

Can't get in touch with any of these? Weird, but okay. In that case, you guessed it…

Use. Common. Sense!

Where you can ride your bike on the sidewalk

State Biking allowed on sidewalks Notes
Alabama (AL) Not allowed
Alaska (AK) Allowed

Must yield to pedestrians

Prohibited in central business districts

Arizona (AZ) Maybe Vehicles not allowed, but bikes aren't vehicles
Arkansas (AR) Allowed (no specific law)
California (CA) Maybe

Vehicles not allowed, but bikes aren't vehicles

Local ordinances may override

Colorado (CO) Allowed

Must yield to pedestrians

Connecticut (CT) Allowed

Local ordinances may override

Must yield to pedestrians

Delaware (DE) Allowed (if no bike lane)

Local ordinances may override

Must yield to pedestrians

Prohibited in central business districts

Florida (FL) Allowed

Must yield to pedestrians

Georgia (GA) Allowed (if 12 years old or younger)
Hawaii (HI) Allowed

Local ordinances may override

Must yield to pedestrians

Idaho (ID) Allowed

Local ordinances may override

Must yield to pedestrians

Illinois (IL) Allowed

Local ordinances may override

Must yield to pedestrians

Indiana (IN) Allowed (no specific law)
Iowa (IA) Allowed (no specific law)
Kansas (KS) Allowed Vehicles not allowed, but bikes aren't vehicles
Kentucky (KY) Not allowed
Louisiana (LA) Allowed Allowed (no specific law)
Maine (ME) Allowed Allowed (no specific law)
Maryland (MD) Not allowed

Local ordinances may override

Massachusetts (MA) Allowed

Local ordinances may override

Must yield to pedestrians

Michigan (MI) Allowed

Local ordinances may override

Must yield to pedestrians

Minnesota (MN) Allowed

Local ordinances may override

Must yield to pedestrians

Prohibited in central business districts

Mississippi (MS) Allowed (no specific law)
Missouri (MO) Allowed

Must yield to pedestrians

Prohibited in central business districts

Montana (MT) Allowed

Local ordinances may override

Must yield to pedestrians

Nebraska (NE) Maybe Vehicles not allowed, but bikes aren't vehicles
Nevada (NV) Maybe Vehicles not allowed, but bikes aren't vehicles
New Hampshire (NH) Not allowed
New Jersey (NJ) Allowed
New Mexico (NM) Maybe Vehicles not allowed, but bikes aren't vehicles
New York (NY) Allowed Not allowed in NYC above age 12
North Carolina (NC) Not allowed
North Dakota (ND) Not allowed
Ohio (OH) Allowed
Oklahoma (OK) Allowed

Prohibited in central business districts

Oregon (OR) Allowed

Must yield to pedestrians

Pennsylvania (PA) Allowed (if no bike lane)

Must yield to pedestrians

Prohibited in central business districts

Rhode Island (RI) Allowed

Local ordinances may override

Must yield to pedestrians

South Carolina (SC) Maybe Vehicles not allowed, but bikes aren't vehicles
South Dakota (SD) Allowed

Local ordinances may override

Must yield to pedestrians

Tennessee (TN) Not allowed
Texas (TX) Allowed (no specific law)
Utah (UT) Allowed

Local ordinances may override

Must yield to pedestrians

Vermont (VT) Maybe Vehicles not allowed, but bikes aren't vehicles
Virginia (VA) Allowed

Local ordinances may override

Must yield to pedestrians

Washington (WA) Allowed

Must yield to pedestrians

West Virginia (WV) Allowed (no specific law)
Wisconsin (WI) Not allowed

Local ordinances may override

Wyoming (WY) Not allowed

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