Bicycles in crosswalks: Do motorists have to stop?

Dear Street Smarts, Q: Are motorists supposed to treat cyclists and pedestrians the same way when approaching a crosswalk? I observed cyclists at a crosswalk yelling at motorists to stop because they were attempting to cross the street on bikes. Some were walking their cruiser bikes, too, so these weren't a pack of serious riders. Thanks! Mark Leitch, an avid cyclist, via email A: Street Smarts polled local police officials for their take on this scenario you describe.  The short answer is that the motorist should have yielded to the cyclists in the crosswalk. Here’s their long answer: Sgt: Matt Eller, Capitola: "First and foremost, bicycles must follow the rules of the road like cars. If they are in a crosswalk, they must be on foot and follow the same rules as pedestrians. Cyclists riding in the crosswalk is illegal because if people are on their bicycles, they need to follow car rules. A lot of times cyclists think thay are something different than a vehicle or pedestrian, and they're not. The rules of the road are the rules of the road." Capt. Steve Clark, Santa Cruz: "Bicyclists are to operate just like cars. So, technically, they should be walking their bicycles if in a crosswalk. Cars would be obliged to yield to pedestrians lawfully in the crosswalk. The key is 'lawfully.' There are some misconceptions resulting in exploitations of a pedestrian’s 'right of way.' We see this play out most commonly downtown where pedestrians perceive their 'right of way' as carte blanche to walk out into traffic without regard for the vehicles in the roadway. Just sit at an intersection like Pacific  Avenue and Lincoln Street to Soquel Avenue and you can watch this play out everyday. Pedestrians have an obligation to not become a hazard in the roadway, and not simply start out into traffic. They must wait until the roadway is clear and then establish their right to be in the roadway. Once they have done this, they have established their right of way, and all other approaching cars must yield to them." Lt. John Hohmann, Scotts Valley: “Crosswalks are for pedestrians only, which does not include bicyclists. So, my opinion does not really matter. The California Vehicle Code, which pertains to the streets and highways, is what law enforcement follows and covers the entire area from one sidewalk to the other and everything in between. As far as whether motorists must stop for them is a different matter. Depending on the type of intersection, controlled by stop sign, signal lights, or uncontrolled, motorists must yield to pedestrians lawfully in a  (marked or unmarked) crosswalk and all vehicles approaching from a differen roadway when turning from an intersecting street. Bicyclists must follow the rules of the road applicable to the driver of a vehicle unless a city adopts an ordinance allowing bicycles on sidewalks. Bicyclists must also ride in the same direction as a vehicle when on the roadway. So to answer your question, motorists should stop for bicyclists in the crosswalk if they see them. Most of the time, an accident occurs because the motorist did not see the bicyclist until it was too late because the bicyclist should not have been in the crosswalk to begin with and usually come off the sidewalk where the line of sight is limited. In the case where you had mounted and unmounted cyclists, the motorists should have yielded."
This entry was posted in bicycle, bicycle education, bike safety, California Driver Handbook, Capitola Police, CHP, consumer affairs, crosswalks, cycling, DMV, driver education, Driver safety, law enforcement, pedestrians, Santa Cruz Police, Scotts Valley Police, traffic laws, traffic violation, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Bicycles in crosswalks: Do motorists have to stop?

  1. Tom says:

    Dear Ramona,

    Good question. It appears, as of January 1, 2010, the local police departments are unaware of an ammeded State Vehicle Code allowing bicycles to ride upon any sidewalk and crosswalk, unless it’s prohibited locally.

    In this case, the local officials should review their ordinances to see if their intentions are consistent with the ammeded State law.

    http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21650.htm

    CVC 21650

    (g) This section does not prohibit the operation of bicycles on any shoulder of a highway, on any sidewalk, on any bicycle path within a highway, or along any crosswalk or bicycle path crossing, where the operation is not otherwise prohibited by this code or local ordinance.
    Amended Sec. 10, Ch. 200, Stats. 2009. Effective January 1,2010

  2. Kate says:

    This is true only for area that the local agency has approved legislation prohibiting bicycles on sidewalks. The officers that you interviewed may not be aware of the new legislation.

    On October 11, 2009, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed State Senate Bill 734 into law. This amended the California Streets and Highways Code and the Calfifornia Vehicle Code to allow bicyclists to ride on sidewalks and in crosswalks.

    SB 734 (Lowenthal)
    Transportation.
    LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

    SB 734, as amended, Lowenthal. Transportation.
    (1) The Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality, and Port
    Security Bond Act of 2006 authorizes the issuance of $19.925 billion
    in general obligation bonds for various transportation improvements,
    of which $2 billion are to be allocated, upon appropriation by the
    Legislature, to cities and counties for specified street and road
    improvements. The act requires a city or county to reimburse the
    state for funds it receives if it fails to comply with certain
    conditions applicable to the expenditure of the bond funds.

    This bill would require any interest or other return earned by a
    city or county from investment of bond funds received under these
    provisions to be expended or reimbursed under the same conditions as
    are applicable to the bond funds themselves.
    (2) The Mills-Alquist-Deddeh Act requires transit operators to
    file an annual report of their operation with the transportation
    planning agencies having jurisdiction over them and the Controller
    within 90 days after the close of the operator’s fiscal year.

    This bill would extend the filing deadline from 90 days to 110
    days after the close of the operator’s fiscal year if the report is
    filed electronically.
    (3)
    (1) Existing law provides that every person riding a
    bicycle upon a highway has all the rights applicable to the driver of
    a vehicle and is subject to specified provisions in the Vehicle
    Code, including the rules of the road and specified equipment
    requirements. Existing law also does not prohibit the operation of
    bicycles on any shoulder of a highway.
    This bill would define a “bicycle path crossing” as either that
    portion of a roadway included within the prolongation or connection
    of the boundary lines of a bike path, as defined, at intersections
    where the intersecting roadways meet at approximately right angles or
    as any portion of a roadway distinctly indicated for bicycle
    crossing by lines or other markings on the surface, except as
    specified.
    This bill would also permit the operation of bicycles on any
    sidewalk, on any bicycle path within a highway, or along any
    crosswalk or bicycle path crossing.
    (4)
    (2) Existing law requires the Department of
    Transportation, in cooperation with the California Transportation
    Commission, transportation planning agencies, and county
    transportation commissions and local governments, to develop
    guidelines for the development of the state transportation
    improvement program and the incorporation of projects into that
    program.
    This bill would delete an obsolete provision of this requirement.

    Here is the Amded CVC section, CVC 21650

    (g) This section does not prohibit the operation of bicycles on any shoulder of a highway, on any sidewalk, on any bicycle path within a highway, or along any crosswalk or bicycle path crossing, where the operation is not otherwise prohibited by this code or local ordinance.

    Amended Sec. 10, Ch. 200, Stats. 2009. Effective January 1,2010

    Within the City of Santa Cruz, bicycles are only prohibited on the sidewalk adjacent to commercial property or businesses…
    10.68.030 OPERATION UPON SIDEWALKS.
    No person shall ride a bicycle or electric bicycle upon sidewalks fronting and adjacent to commercial establishments, stores, or buildings used for business or commercial purposes. Every person operating a bicycle or electric bicycle upon a sidewalk where permitted shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrians on such sidewalk. In accordance with California Vehicle Code Section 21235(g), the operator of a motorized scooter shall not operate the motorized scooter upon any sidewalk except as may be necessary to enter or leave adjacent property.

    Within the County of Santa Cruz, bicycles are permitted on sidewalks by the CVC and streets and highways code.

  3. BeeRad says:

    Ramona, were you high when you wrote this sensational bit of journalistic plop?

    “Do motorists have to stop?” No…they don’t have to stop…they can continue right along and run that person down…because they’re on a bicycle in a crosswalk.

    Irresponsible doesn’t even begin to describe what you’ve done by posing this as an actual legit question. OF COURSE YOU MUST STOP. The alternative is attempted vehicular manslaughter. DUHHHHHH

Leave a Reply