Answer: Yes, it was legal, even though city code says otherwise.

This answer is a little bit confusing, so you need to pay attention to it: City ordinance states that cyclists 14 years and younger may ride on sidewalks; cyclists 15 and older may not; No one can ride on sidewalks in business districts. However, state law says that “when riding on sidewalks, cyclists shall yield to pedestrians” – this clearly means that cyclists are permitted on sidewalks. Since state law supersedes city law in this case, city officials have concluded that riding on sidewalks is permissible so long as cyclists yield to pedestrians. How sound is this information? This answer comes from a city of Missoula report entitled “City Talk Report: Bicycle Safety in Missoula.” I found the report by Googling: Missoula, bicycle ordinance. (http://www.missoulaneighborhoods.org/City%20Talk/Bicycle%20Safety%20in%20Miss oula/Results-%20Bicycle%20Safety%20in%20Missoula.pdf.) The report comes from a good authority, so I am fairly confident the information is accurate. However, it doesn’t have a date on it and it is somewhat convoluted. To be sure I understand what the report is saying and that nothing has changed about sidewalk laws in the state, I called the director of the city’s bicycle pedestrian program, whose name is listed in the report. Notice how very important it is to make that phone call. If your Google search lead you instead to the city’s Public Works page on bicycles and the law (http://www.ci.missoula.mt.us/publicworks/bikelaws.htm) you would see that that authoritative source says it is simply illegal for anyone 15 or older to ride on any sidewalks in Missoula. The director explained the many nuances of legal interpretation of state law on this issue, and said the Public Works site is “out of date.” How would I attribute this information? Assuming I talked to Phil Smith or another authority on bicycling law to confirm this information, I would attribute the information to them. If I could not reach someone, I would attribute the information to the report.

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