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BIKING ON SIDEWALKS, plus examples of ordinances from Monterey County, California

Para una versión en español de este post, haga clic aquí.

Biking on sidewalks – 90-second audio.

With some exceptions, biking on sidewalks is usually less safe than biking streets. At driveways and intersections, drivers typically aren’t expecting a person on a bicycle coming off a sidewalk. 

Nonetheless, a person who bikes may sometimes find a sidewalk their safest option. Reasons include narrow roadways or being in high-traffic areas, especially without bike lanes; low visibility conditions, such as heavy fog; nighttime riding in isolated areas, or in areas without streetlights; and, of course, a child pedaling. (Most people agree that children up to approximately age 13 cannot really make the necessary decisions about vehicle speed and distance that allow them to bike streets safely.)

In California, state law leaves sidewalk riding to local jurisdiction. That makes sense, because infrastructure (roads, sidewalks, bridges, and more), plus the number of people who bike or walk, and other factors, vary widely around the state. 

In some California communities, biking on sidewalks is generally allowed, unless signs indicate it is prohibited. In other communities, biking on sidewalks is only prohibited in specific areas, such as in a business district—and there may or may not be signs indicating where it’s prohibited. In still other communities, biking on sidewalks is completely prohibited. (We’ll give examples from Monterey County, California, including some Salinas Valley locations.)

In every place where bicycling on sidewalks is allowed, keep in mind that sidewalks are not designed for the speed bicycles normally travel; sidewalks are designed for pedestrian speeds. A person biking on a sidewalk is expected to bike at a reasonable speed, and cautiously, and to yield to all pedestrians. In addition, give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian.

Now for Monterey County examples:

ALLOWED: In unincorporated communities of Monterey County, such as Castroville and Spreckels, sidewalk riding is allowed. However, be alert for the possibility of signs, such as in some shopping centers, that indicate bicycling riding is not allowed at that location.

GENERALLY ALLOWED: In the Monterey County seat and its largest city, Salinas, and in the Monterey Peninsula city of Monterey, sidewalk riding is generally allowed, except where signs give notice it is prohibited. Also, Salinas and Monterey specifically require what we recommend for biking on sidewalks anywhere, that is: any permitted bicycle riding on sidewalks must be done with due caution and reasonable speed. The person biking must yield to all pedestrians and give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian. 

PROHIBITED IN COMMERCIAL OR BUSINESS DISTRICTS: In the Salinas Valley city of Greenfield, and in the Monterey Peninsula city of Carmel, sidewalk riding is prohibited in the commercial or business districts. 

PROHIBITED: In the Salinas Valley cities of Gonzales, King City, and Soledad, and in the Monterey Peninsula city of Pacific Grove, sidewalk riding is completely prohibited. 

A NOTE ABOUT ENFORCEMENT: Sidewalk ordinances may or may not be enforced in these or other areas. Nonetheless, people who bike are responsible for knowing what local ordinances are where they ride. Not abiding by a local ordinance could result in a traffic citation.

For other Monterey County cities, check with, or contact local officials to ask.

Wherever you bike, learn what the local ordinances are. Then follow them, to boost harmony, ease, and safety for people who walk, bike, or drive.

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More information, in English and Spanish

For a Spanish version of this post, and a video in Spanish, go to: (Also available on this site: Una colección de recursos en español sobre ciclismo: A collection of resources in Spanish about bicycling

For other sidewalk information on this site, in English, including a 90-second audio, go to “Bicycling on Sidewalks: Misconceptions and Advisories. Also: Crosswalks, and “What Pedestrians and Bicyclists Want Each Other to Know.” Additional sidewalk posts can be found in the sidewalks category,

Links to municipal codes about sidewalk riding for some Monterey County communities—e.g., the cities of Carmel, Del Rey Oaks, Gonzales, Greenfield, King City, Marina, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Salinas, Sand City, Seaside, and Soledad, plus unincorporated Monterey County (which includes Carmel Valley, Castroville, Chualar, Pajaro, San Ardo, Spreckels, and more)—are in Bicycling Monterey’s “Riding Skills, Safety, and CA Bicycle Laws section” (click here) of the Tips for Bicycling Monterey County guide. In that section, use your browser’s find window to jump to “Local ordinances about bicycles on sidewalks, plus other local bike-related ordinances.” Or just scroll down that section until you reach, in part 20, a large photo of this child.

This post was published on 11 April 2023. One or more changes last made to this post on 3 April 2024.

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