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Riding my bicycle legally on the sidewalk, I approach an intersection controlled by a stop sign. Let's say there are wheelchair ramps at the intersection, and there may or may not be painted pedestrian crosswalk lines. Must I make a full stop before crossing the side street?

My question pertains to California law but I realize that the answer may differ in other jurisdictions. Also, it may make a difference whether or not there are painted crosswalk lines, and whether the road is to my left or to my right.

The strategy, if legal, may be useful to bicyclists who may avoid having to make a full stop by riding on the sidewalk shortly before reaching the intersection.

Another situation is a 3 way intersection with 3 stop signs where I am not crossing a side street. If I am on the street, I know I must stop, but I am quite confident that I am not required to stop if I am on the sidewalk.

As a side issue, it does appear that it is legal for me to ride on the sidewalk in California with the road to my right and continue to ride between the crosswalk lines across an intersecting street. California law treats the crosswalk as an extension of the sidewalk, thus giving me the same rights that I have on the sidewalk.

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Whether or not you're required to by law, I'd say it's a good idea to stop even if you're on the sidewalk. And a better idea to simply ride in the street. –  jimirings Oct 17 '13 at 16:44
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Also, many counties and local municipalities in California ban riding on sidewalks. Check your local laws if you really insist on doing so. –  jimirings Oct 17 '13 at 16:52
    
While I think it is an odd question, at best, why don't you at least tell us the jurisdiction you are biking in. –  Mike P Oct 17 '13 at 17:04
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Probably the only thing less safe than riding on the sidewalks is riding on the roads and then hopping over to the sidewalk near every corner so you can "legally" ignore the stop sign. –  Johnny Oct 17 '13 at 19:03
    
It's possible you may not be required to come to a "full stop", but you must at least slow to a "walk" (not a "trot") so that you're proceeding at the pace of a pedestrian, not a cyclist. It's unreasonable to expect motorists to expect cyclists to come darting across an intersection in a crosswalk, vs moving slowly towards and into the intersection as a person on foot would. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 17 '13 at 19:39

2 Answers 2

According to the state's site about bicycles, there are only laws against riding on sidewalks for certain locales. Otherwise, similar to most states, you are governed as a pedestrian when riding on the sidewalk. That means if you dart in front of traffic unexpectedly, even in a crosswalk, you can still be at fault.

However, you should ALWAYS stop at an intersection, regardless of whether you are a pedestrian or a vehicle. It's polite and it's a heck of a lot safer than assuming the coast is clear. And don't be that guy who rides on sidewalks just to avoid traffic laws and stop signs, nobody likes that.

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More importantly, you shouldn't be riding on the sidewalks anyway. Established consensus is that it's significantly more dangerous than riding on the road. –  Stephen Touset Oct 17 '13 at 18:01
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Consensus and statistical evidence. –  Ritch Melton Oct 17 '13 at 23:07

It really depends on local rules. In Latvia (Europe) a road sign is not applicable to you if it is located on the left of your path. Also, bicycle rules are not clear enough yet, so sometimes it is a grey area.

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