Driving in LA is daunting enough in an automobile, but navigating gridlock on a bike can be flat-out terrifying. With a patchy (but growing) network of bike lanes and oblivious car drivers, we certainly understand why some cyclists choose the sidewalk over the street. But is it actually legal to ride your bike on the sidewalk? Like parking laws, it depends on what city you're in.
You can ride your bike on the sidewalk in the City of Los Angeles as long as you're doing so in a safe manner. Section 56.15 of the LA Municipal Code states:
No person shall ride, operate or use a bicycle, unicycle, skateboard, cart, wagon, wheelchair, rollerskates, or any other device moved exclusively by human power, on a sidewalk, bikeway or boardwalk in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.
It's a "well, it's not illegal" kind of half-hearted endorsement, but make no mistake that as long as you're not zipping by or colliding into pedestrians, you can legally pedal your bike on a sidewalk.
Here's where the laws get tricky, though: Step outside of city limits and into unincorporated LA County—areas like Marina del Rey and Universal City that aren't part of the City of Los Angeles but don't have city councils of their own—and biking on the sidewalk becomes illegal. Sorry cyclists and toddlers trying to ride on the back of your dog, you'll have to stay off the sidewalks per section 15.76.080 of the LA County Municipal Code:
A person shall not operate any bicycle or any vehicle or ride any animal on any sidewalk or parkway except at a permanent or temporary driveway or at specific locations thereon where the commissioner finds that such locations are suitable for, and has placed appropriate signs and/or markings permitting such operation or riding.
So that covers those two, but what about the 87 other cities in the county? In Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach it's flat-out illegal, in Beverly Hills and Glendale it's illegal in liberally defined business districts, and in Pasadena and Burbank it's almost always legal.
To make the overwhelming number of laws a little bit more digestible, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation compiled an extensive collection of sidewalk bike laws broken down by city. You can find a cheat sheet of city sidewalk laws, as well as a map which we've featured below, but keep in mind the guide was put together in 2010 so some laws may have changed. That said, we can confirm that unless otherwise posted, the cities below do indeed allow sidewalk bike riding (with the exception of wooden sidewalks in San Dimas or sidewalks where bike lanes are present in West Hollywood).
View full size here. Courtesy LADOT.