The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has given the OK to cyclists wanting to ride their bikes on sidewalks.
The Board voted unanimously on Tuesday to amend the county’s vehicle and traffic code to allow the use of bicycles on sidewalks in unincorporated areas of the county.
The ordinance was drafted in an effort to reduce both cyclist fatalities on county roads, as well as “decriminalize affordable mobility choices.”
Los Angeles County currently has a goal to completely eliminate traffic fatalities on unincorporated roadways by the year 2035, as part of its Vision Zero Action Plan. The County estimates that 75 people die each year in traffic collisions on its unincorporated roads.
A study from the California Highway Patrol found that more than 1,000 cyclists were injured in collisions on unincorporated roads between 2019 and 2022, including 175 who suffered serious injuries or death.
A February report from a bicycle advocacy group found that 26 cyclists were killed in Los Angeles County in 2022, with most of the deadly collisions happening on roads that don’t have dedicated bike lanes.
Supervisor Hilda Solis said cyclists often travel on sidewalks to avoid the dangers of the roadway. She argued that making it safer and easier for bicyclists to get from Point-A to Point-B would increase equity for L.A. County residents.
She also said cited a study from the Los Angeles Times that analyzed 44,000 bike stops and found that the vast majority of riders stopped by law enforcement were Latino and citations were less likely to be issued in affluent communities and more likely to be issued in communities that are predominantly home to people of color.
“Changing our County Code is a step in the right direction to encourage our residents to ride their bicycles without experiencing fear of profiling,” Solis said. “Many who ride bicycles are some of our most vulnerable neighbors who live on the margins and deserve access to affordable transportation choices.”
That study from the Times led to an amendment to the County Code in 2017, but the Supervisors said those changes weren’t enough.
Janice Hahn, who is Chair of the Board of Supervisors, said the uneven policing of cyclists was “unfair, discriminatory, and targeted some of our most vulnerable residents.”
She said people who ride bikes either by choice or by circumstance should not be forced to choose between riding on dangerous roads or fear of being cited by law enforcement.
The ordinance garnered support from other community partners, as well as the County Public Works Department, which said the ordinance aligns with its Vision Zero goals.
The adopted ordinance will allow bicycles on all sidewalks in unincorporated Los Angeles County, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
The new guidelines apply only to unincorporated roads maintained or operated by L.A. County. Neighboring cities may have different regulations prohibiting the use of bicycles on sidewalks, so riders should make note of each city’s individual rules.
Of the 88 cities in L.A. County, about two-thirds do not prohibit bikes on sidewalks, County officials said.