June 2011 Archives

Periodicly, I get in discussions with people about such arcane things as riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. More fascinating is that when you know the correct answer, you'd be surprised who gets the question wrong. Case in point, one day while out riding my bike, a police officer told me over his car PA that I "have to use the sidewalk". Not only was the officer completely wrong, but the City of Birmingham has an ordinance against riding bicycles on the sidewalk! And here is a supposed expert in law telling me to break the law?! I did what any sensible person would do when faced with an illegal order: I ignored it. But further, some folks don't understand how it's against the law to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk. Let me break it down, one section at a time:

Title 32, Chapter 5A, Rules Of The Road:

Section 32-5A-3
Required obedience to traffic laws.
It is unlawful and, unless otherwise declared in this chapter with respect to particular offenses, it is a misdemeanor for any person to do any act forbidden or fail to perform any act required in this chapter.
(Acts 1980, No. 80-434, p. 604, �1-102.)
You have to follow the traffic laws.

Section 32-5A-52
Driving upon sidewalk.
No person shall drive any vehicle upon a sidewalk or sidewalk area except upon a permanent or duly authorized temporary driveway.
(Acts 1980, No. 80-434, p. 604, �11-103.)
It is against the law to drive on the sidewalk.

 Section 32-5A-260
Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles.
Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter, ...except as to special regulations in this article and except as to those provisions of this chapter which by their nature can have no application.
(Acts 1980, No. 80-434, p. 604, �12-102.)
Traffic laws apply to bicycles.

Section 32-5A-263
Riding on roadways and bicycle paths.

(a) Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.
(b) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
(c) Wherever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the roadway.
(Acts 1980, No. 80-434, p. 604, �12-105.)
Bikes have to use the road unless a bike lane or path is provided.

Section 32-5A-281
Definitions.
As used in this article, the following words shall have the following meanings:
(1) BICYCLE. A human-powered vehicle with two wheels in tandem design to transport by the act of pedaling one or more persons seated on one or more saddle seats on its frame. "Bicycle" includes, but is not limited to, a human-powered vehicle designed to transport by the act of pedaling which has more than two wheels when the vehicle is used on a public roadway, public bicycle path, or other public road or right-of-way, but does not include a tricycle.
(2) OPERATOR. A person who travels on a bicycle seated on a saddle seat from which that person is intended to and can pedal the bicycle.
(3) OTHER PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY. Any right-of-way other than a public roadway or public bicycle path that is under the jurisdiction and control of the state or a local political subdivision thereof.
(6) PUBLIC BICYCLE PATH. A right-of-way under the jurisdiction and control of the state, or a local political subdivision thereof, for use primarily by bicyclists and pedestrians.
(7) PUBLIC ROADWAY. A right-of-way under the jurisdiction and control of the state or a local political subdivision thereof for use primarily by motor vehicular traffic.
(Acts 1995, No. 95-198, p. 306, �2.)
A bicycle is defined as a vehicle.

So a bicycle is a vehicle, and must adhere to the traffic laws. And the traffic laws prohibit driving on the sidewalk. As the traffic laws prohibit driving on the sidewalk, and bicycles must obey traffic laws, bicycles may not be ridden on the sidewalk. Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

(The other half is red lasers and blue lasers.)

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