LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved ordinance amendments to County Code, Title 15 – Vehicle and Traffic, to allow the use of bicycles on sidewalks in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County and establish standards. The Board of Supervisors’ recent action is a progressive step toward decriminalizing the comfortable use of affordable mobility choices, simultaneously aligning their local rules with that of the County’s Vision Zero Action Plan goals of reducing traffic fatalities on unincorporated roadways to zero by 2035.
According to California Highway Patrol, traffic collision reports between 2018 and 2022, 1,068 bicyclists incurred injuries from collisions on unincorporated roadways, and 175 experienced severe injuries or lost their lives. Mobility and access to high-quality transportation are critical issues of equity for County residents, recognizing that bicyclists often defer to the sidewalk as a refuge from the dangers of fast-moving traffic on the road as we build out our active transportation networks.
“Changing our County Code is a step in the right direction to encourage our residents to ride their bicycles without experiencing fear of profiling,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, First District. “Many who ride bicycles are some of our most vulnerable neighbors who live on the margins and deserve access to affordable transportation choices. Through this Board action, we are improving public health and safety to allow their means of travel to remain viable within our County maintained roadways.”
The County Code amendment was informed by a 2017 analysis conducted by the Los Angeles Times revealing that out of more than 44,000 bike stops, 70 percent involved Latino bicyclists. These bike stops, and often citations, by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department occurred at greater rates in communities of color such as unincorporated East Los Angeles than in more affluent neighborhoods throughout the County.
“It’s about time. These citations were unfair, discriminatory, and targeted some of our most vulnerable residents. People who cycle in our communities should not be forced to choose between these burdensome citations and riding on unsafe roads,” said Chair of the Board Janice Hahn, Fourth District. “This ordinance is going to make traveling by bicycle in LA County easier and safer.”
On November 16, 2021, the Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a motion authored by Supervisor Solis, and coauthored by Supervisor Hahn, to draft an ordinance by the Department of Public Works, in consultation with County Counsel and Public Health, guided by a review of best practices for pedestrian and bicycle safety. Among the 88 cities in Los Angeles County, nearly two-thirds do not prohibit riding a bicycle on a sidewalk, with some exceptions, such as cities prohibiting sidewalk riding in business districts or areas with high pedestrian activity.
The adopted ordinance will allow the operation of bicycles on sidewalks in all unincorporated County communities while preserving the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and other sidewalk users. The additions and amendments to Los Angeles County code allow for the Board of Supervisors to prohibit bicycle riding on any portion of a sidewalk that is maintained or operated by the County if it is determined to not be suitable for bicycling; in this case, signs would be posted by the Road Commissioner indicating such prohibition.