Temple City, CA asked in Gov & Administrative Law and Municipal Law for California

Q: If an escooter/bike is on a sidewalk do they have to abide by pedestrian rules?

I read that in California it is legal for a bike or e-scooter to enter a sidewalk when the bike lane is blocked or nonexistent, if they were to enter the sidewalk would they have to abide by pedestrian rules such as not crossing when the no walking sign is up? Also if they were to be hit by a car while crossing from a sidewalk with a pedestrian stop on, would they be partially at fault?

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Municipal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, when bicycles or e-scooters are allowed to ride on sidewalks due to bike lane obstructions or absence, they must generally follow the same rules as pedestrians. However, local laws may vary, so it's important to check the specific regulations in your city or county.

When riding on the sidewalk, cyclists and e-scooter riders should:

1. Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.

2. Give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian.

3. Obey traffic control devices, such as stop signs and traffic signals.

Regarding crossing at a crosswalk with a "Don't Walk" sign, the law is not entirely clear. Pedestrians are required to obey these signals, but the law doesn't explicitly state whether this applies to cyclists or e-scooter riders on sidewalks. It's generally safer and more prudent for cyclists and e-scooter riders to follow pedestrian signals when on sidewalks to avoid potential accidents and liability.

If a cyclist or e-scooter rider on a sidewalk is hit by a car while crossing against a pedestrian signal, they might be found partially at fault. California follows a "comparative fault" rule, which means that if the cyclist or e-scooter rider is found to be partially responsible for the accident, their compensation may be reduced by the percentage of their fault.

However, even if the cyclist or e-scooter rider is partially at fault, the driver may still be held liable if they failed to exercise due care, such as not yielding to a cyclist or e-scooter rider who had already entered the crosswalk.

In summary, while cyclists and e-scooter riders are generally expected to follow pedestrian rules when on sidewalks, the specific circumstances of an accident would determine fault and liability. It's always best for cyclists and e-scooter riders to exercise caution, follow traffic signals, and yield to pedestrians when riding on sidewalks to ensure everyone's safety and minimize potential liability.

William John Light
William John Light
  • Santa Ana, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Who is at fault in a collision depends on a lot more than a pedestrian stop being on. Even if an e-scooter or pedestrian is violating the pedestrian stop, a motorist cannot just run them over. The real answer is, it depends. Did the motorist have a chance to react, slow or stop? Did the pedestrian or e-scooter jump out in front of a car with a green light? Also, fault is on a spectrum from 0% to 100%. Both parties frequently share some proportion of fault.

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