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Carmel and elsewhere: Sidewalk confusion abounds

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For a different sort of Carmel confusion, see

In 2017, why the buzz about sidewalk riding in Carmel? First, some background.

2014: Repeated inaccurate reports in the Salinas Californian in summer 2014 led to Bicycling Monterey contributing to the CalifornianBicycling on sidewalks: misconceptions and advisories,” published October 15, 2014.

2015: To boost public education, Bicycling Monterey also contributed an audio for Central Coast public radio, broadcast January 14, 2015. Hear that 90-second audio, and learn much more, in  “Bicycling on Sidewalks: Misconceptions and Advisories. Also: Crosswalks, and ‘What Pedestrians and Bicyclists Want Each Other to Know.’”

2016: Continuing need for education on the topic—as evidenced by a person biking Greenfield being ticketed in summer 2016— led to Bicycling Monterey’s August 11, 2016 post “Local ordinances on sidewalk riding and more: Monterey County cities and unincorporated areas.” The post highlights information long provided in the Tips for Bicycling Monterey County guide’s section on “Riding Skills, Safety, and Bike Laws.”

2017: And the need for public education continues….


Since California law leaves biking on sidewalks to local jurisdiction, and local ordinances vary widely— within counties and around the state—it makes sense many people are confused. The January 12, 2017 Monterey County Weekly “Squid Fry” included this quote from Carmel City Council member Carrie Theis: “You’re not allowed to ride it [a bicycle] on a sidewalk.” That statement as quoted is inaccurate. Why? Because sidewalk riding is only illegal in Carmel within the commercial districts, as of January 18, 2017. (After this date, for any possible changes to the ordinance, check with the City of Carmel.)

Nonetheless, Bicycling Monterey salutes that City Council member, Ms. Theis, for her comments—also reported by Squid—in support of bicycling: “I ride my bicycle in Carmel all the time.” In fact, Ms. Theis also helps to make Carmel a more bike-friendly place through the participation of her business, the Hofsas House Hotel, in Monterey County’s HER Helmet Thursdays project.

Carmel City Council member Bobby Richards, manager of the Lamp Lighter Inn and manager and partner of the Forest Lodge, is hip to the benefits of bicycling too. Both those lodging providers are also HER Helmet Thursdays participants. Tip of the helmet to these Carmel City Council members for encouraging people to reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions, along with reaping many other benefits of bicycling.

See biking Carmel for a list of the first Carmel-by-the-Sea / Carmel / Carmel Valley businesses and organizations in HER Helmet Thursdays, along with dozens of local tips.

Another note about that 1/12/17 “Squid Fry” column: Bicycling Monterey appreciates that perhaps the Carmel City Council member quoted by Squid as saying, “Riding bikes in Carmel, it’s worrisome to me,” may be concerned about safety of people who bike. She and others may be interested in a November 2009 Bicycling Monterey post about a report to the Scottish Parliament. The report found that—as is widely accepted by transportation professionals around the world—as the number of people cycling increases in a community, the safety of cycling there increases.

Please help educate family members, friends, and others about local ordinances on sidewalk riding, and riding skills, safety, and CA bike laws by sharing a link to this post; the short link is You may also wish to print and share Be Cool, Be Safe – Bike Law Summary & Advocating for Biking   or other Bicycling Monterey posters or mini-fliers

Another tip: Do you know places in Carmel, Greenfield, Salinas, or elsewhere in Monterey County that need better bicycle parking? Click here.
Find helpful info on this website? 
Since founding Bicycling Monterey in May 2009, the founder has donated well over 12,000 hours to the Bicycling Monterey projects, including this website. To contribute, and for FAQs, click here. Thank you.

This post was published on 18 January 2017. One or more changes last made to this post on 10 April 2023.

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