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.