Is it legal to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk?

I am usually cycling with my kids, and one is still learning. We are slowpokes. So we stick to sidewalks. But then I wondered, is that legal?

I turned to Kristin Kinnamon, president of the BIKES Club of Snohomish County, for the expert answer.

“State law says yes, it is legal to ride on sidewalks, but gives cities the option to limit sidewalk riding in city centers,” Kinnamon said.

Everett limits sidewalk riding in the downtown area. Residential areas are fine.

“I agree that families may find sidewalk riding to be the best option for kids who have trouble riding straight and predictably,” she said.

But if you’re a seasoned rider, the safer option is to stick to the street.

“I generally advise against adults riding on the sidewalk except for short distances, and certainly only at a slow speed out of respect to walkers and to the cars less likely to notice you (especially if you are riding opposite the direction of traffic),” Kinnamon said.

“One of the few times I have been hit by a car in tens of thousands of miles of riding was while riding the wrong way down a sidewalk in Everett. I was in a hurry to catch a bus. A driver pulled out of an alley — looking in the direction he expected traffic to come from. I came from the other way and he ran into my front tire,” she recalled. “Needless to say, I missed the bus.”

Read more bicycle-themed posts on the Street Smarts blog.

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