Phoenix Personal Injury Lawyer Blog

Yield! - Bicycles in Crosswalks and on Sidewalks are the same as Pedestrians in Arizona

Posted by Jay L. Ciulla | Feb 12, 2014 | 13 Comments

Once again, I have encountered another Phoenix, Arizona bicycle personal injury case where there is a misunderstanding about Arizona law regarding bicyclist riding on sidewalks and crosswalks. This area of traffic law is often misunderstood by motorists, police officers investigating accidents, and insurance adjusters who mistakenly believe that bicycles are required to ride in the roadway; this is not Arizona law. Some cities do prohibit riding bicycles on sidewalks by local ordinance (Tucson).  Others, such as Tempe, Arizona allow riding on sidewalks unless otherwise posted and require bicycles to ride with traffic.

Many people wrongly think that bicycles on sidewalks must ride in the direction of traffic throughout the state of Arizona - not true. If a bicyclist chooses to ride on the roadway or shoulder, they must follow most traffic laws pursuant to A.R.S. §28-812. Also, Bicycles on the roadway must ride on the right; A.R.S. § 28-815(A) governs directional travel of bicycles only when they are driven on a roadway, but not on sidewalks. Sidewalks are not part of the roadway. A.R.S. § 28-601.

Back In 1980, the Arizona Supreme Court addressed this issue in Maxwell v. Gossett, 126 Ariz. 98, 612 P.2d 1061 (1980).  In that case, the defendant was an automobile driver who hit and injured a young boy who was riding his bike in a crosswalk.  The defendant driver attempted to argue that it was improper for a boy, young Jeffrey Maxwell, to ride his bicycle in a crosswalk and also argued that the boy was travelling the wrong way against traffic.  The Arizona Supreme Court disagreed with all of these arguments. The court held that a bicyclist crossing a roadway in a crosswalk is a pedestrian and is not prohibited from riding the bicycle in the crosswalk.  Also, the Court concluded " ... that we find no causal connection between the fact that Jeffrey may have been riding on the left hand side of the street before he stopped at the U-Totem Market and the accident which occurred while he was in the crosswalk at the intersection.”

Arizona drivers should yield to bicyclists on sidewalks and crosswalks.  Also, look both ways because the bicycle can legally be riding in either direction.

Phoenix, Arizona lawyer, Jay Ciulla, helps people with accident, personal injury and wrongful death cases. Call 602 495 0053 for a free consultation.

About the Author

Jay L. Ciulla

Jay L. Ciulla is a native of Phoenix, Arizona. Since 1997, he has been helping injured injured people with their legal issues. He has extensive litigation and trial experience and has represented clients in more than one hundred trials.

Comments

HMiller Reply

Posted Sep 01, 2016 at 09:54:19

The right way is if you are on a bike and come to a crosswalk, you should stop, dismount and walk the bike across. That’s why there’s a walk symbol on the light and not a bike.

Jay L. Ciulla Reply

Posted Sep 01, 2016 at 10:10:04

Horace, that is one way to do it, but that is not the only proper and legal way, at least not in Arizona. According to the Arizona Supreme Court, you can lawfully ride a bicycle in either direction in a crosswalk.

Chris C. Reply

Posted Oct 14, 2016 at 18:40:37

Hi,
I was hit T-boned at 45mph on October 9th while on my bike. I was crossing the street in a crosswalk when the light started to blink. The other cars waited for me to finish crossing and I was just about to complete when another car passed everyone on the right and slammed into me. I went airborne and landed in the pavement in the center of the road. The driver statement says the light turned to green as they approached, so they decided to maintain their speed (as if they were trying to time the light.) I’m lucky to be alive and am interviewing with an attorney. One attorney wrote and said to me “cyclists may not be considered pedestrians under Az law”. So, I’m relieved to have found this article.

Brian moore Reply

Posted Nov 05, 2016 at 23:09:10

Hello Jay,

I’m writing you to get some clarification. On 10/20/2016
Approx 430pm. I was riding my bicycle on the sidewalk.
Bethany home & 12th St.
Heading westbound against traffic flow, but on the sidewalk. I was struck by a Suv coming out of a parking lot….she stopped before the sidewalk so I thought she noticed me. As I approached her right front fender, she acceleratedo and nailed me into the street. My attorney at lerner & Rowe said it was partly my fault for riding on the sidewalk and on the wrong side of the street. I find no law stating it’s illegal, nor is it my fault I the slightest. Am I correct?
Thank you.

Jay L. Ciulla Reply

Posted Nov 07, 2016 at 08:59:37

Hello Brian – I am hesitant to offer firm opinion on your specific situation without knowing all of the facts of your case and in this public forum. However, i will say in general, that is is lawful to ride on the sidewalk in Phoenix. In fact, in many situations, riding on the sidewalk is actually much safer for a bicyclist and the prudent thing to do. Also, sidewalks are bi-directional, meaning that you can ride in either direction, unless there is a local ordinance against it (there is not in Phoenix). Cars entering the road from a parking lot have the duty to look BOTH ways and yield to cars on the road and anyone on the sidewalk, so it should make no difference which direction a bicycle, pedestrian, wheel chair or baby stroller is traveling on a sidewalk. I am happy to provide free consultations for anyone who is injured in a bicycle vs. car accident.

Rob S. Reply

Posted Sep 22, 2017 at 12:59:08

What about a bicyclist approaching an intersection controlled by a 4 way stop yet is riding on the sidewalk? Who has right of way? The vehicle in the road that has made a stop, yielded to other vehicle traffic and is starting to proceed when a bicyclist that may have been quite a distance from the intersection just crosses without stopping? There are dedicated bike lanes in my community and although there have not been any incidents I am afraid there will be. I have spoken to riders in my area about this and they don’t seem concerned – and their answers always seem to reflect that if they are on the sidewalk and using crosswalks they don’t need to follow the rules of the road (direction aside, just traffic control devices). Thanks for your input.

Joe Swain Reply

Posted Mar 08, 2018 at 12:15:54

I go along with your direction , because I have done a very deep study about .

Jay L. Ciulla Reply

Posted Mar 08, 2018 at 12:24:44

Thanks, Joe. This is a reoccurring issue. I would like the Arizona legislature to make the protections for bicyclists explicit in the statutes, so that we can end the confusion once and for all.

Amy Reply

Posted Mar 30, 2018 at 16:13:44

Does the Tucson city ordinance prohibiting riding bikes on sidewalks override the state law that says it is allowed? Or is Tucson allowed to ride on sidewalks because of that 1980 case?

Jay L. Ciulla Reply

Posted Apr 02, 2018 at 09:48:18

Hello Amy, The Tucson ordinance does prohibit riding on the sidewalk unless permitted by signs. However, I am not aware of any case in which someone has challenged that this is preempted by State law; that is a possible argument.

Here is the ordinance:

Sec. 5-2. Riding on sidewalks and pedestrian paths, and through underpasses.
(a) It shall be unlawful to ride a bicycle on any public sidewalks, or upon a designated pedestrian path in any public park, unless signs are posted specifically permitting bicycling.
(b) It shall be unlawful to ride a bicycle through any underpass when signs are posted prohibiting bicycling.

It remains lawful to ride a bicycle in a crosswalk in Tucson. Their ordinance does not apply to crosswalks.

J.F. Reply

Posted Apr 05, 2018 at 20:57:58

Im a 44 year old male who still rides a bmx almost every night. I have a big bright light attached to my handle bars and still get almost 1 or 2 times a month. If I do get hit your the second person I’m calling, my wife being the first, who will tell me to grow up and ride an adult bike. Thank you for putting this out there.

Jay L. Ciulla Reply

Posted Apr 06, 2018 at 15:02:27

You are welcome, J.F. Be safe out there!

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