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JULY 2017

Hey, you’re riding
in the crosswalk!
Bicycles, tricycles, unicycles and crosswalks
BY MIKE DANKO crosswalk is illegal only if it is prohibited unicycle, in a crosswalk? Does the rider
by local ordinance. (Ibid.) And that is have the right of way? Surprisingly, it
hardly ever. depends. The vehicle code provides that
It’s often said that it’s illegal to ride anyone who is using a means of con-
a bike in a crosswalk. You need to get off Bicyclists do not have the veyance “propelled by human power”
right of way
and walk. If you ride your bike in a cross- other than a bicycle is a “pedestrian.” So
walk you may be ticketed for a violation Though bicyclists may ride in a cross- at first blush, the answer would seem to
of Vehicle Code section 21200(a), which walk, vehicles approaching the crosswalk be yes, once in the crosswalk, the tricy-
makes a bicyclist subject to “all the provi- need not yield to them the right of way. clist (or the unicyclist, for that matter)
sions applicable to the driver of a vehi- That’s because vehicles must yield only to has the right of way. But there’s a wrin-
cle.” The usual reasoning is that you can’t “pedestrians.” (Veh. Code, § 21950.) And kle. If the particular unicycle or tricycle
drive a vehicle in a crosswalk, a bicycle is the vehicle code expressly excludes from in question is driven by a belt, chain, or
considered a “vehicle,” so you can’t oper- its otherwise broad definition of “pedes- gears – and not all are – then the con-
ate your bicycle in a crosswalk. trian” those riding bicycles. (Veh. Code, § veyance is defined as “bicycle” regard-
In fact, however, the Vehicle Code 467(1).) less of how many wheels it has. (Veh.
generally permits riding a bicycle in a Code, § 231 [“A bicycle is a device upon
crosswalk. (See, e.g. Veh. Code 21650(g), Unicycles, tricycles, and which any person may ride, propelled
excluding from the rule that vehicles be other wheeled contrivances are exclusively by human power through a
operated on the right hand side of the problematic belt, chain, or gears, and having one or
road “bicycles being operated along a What about one riding a tricycle, more wheels”].) So as odd as it may
crosswalk.”) Rather, riding a bicycle in a or perhaps an increasingly popular seem, some tricycles are considered

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JULY 2017

bicycles and some are not. Same for uni- who is “scootering” a bicycle should be Who would have thought that the in-
cycles. considered a pedestrian or, instead, a tersection of crosswalk and bicycle law
Presumably, then, a vehicle bicyclist. But Lord Justice Waller of the would be so complicated?
approaching a unicyclist in a cross- United Kingdom took the question head
walk would need to determine on, deciding that one who scooters a bike Mike Danko of Danko
whether the unicycle has a chain is most definitely not a pedestrian. Meredith graduated from
drive before determining who has [A] person who is walking across a Dartmouth College, magna
the right of way. pedestrian crossing pushing a bicycle, cum laude, and then earned
having started on the pavement on one his law degree at the Univer-
A bicyclist may become a side on her feet and not on the bicycle, sity of Virginia School of
pedestrian and going across pushing the bicycle Law. He has been named to
Of course, if a bicyclist gets off the with both feet on the ground so to Danko Best Lawyers in America.
bicycle and walks it along the crosswalk, speak is clearly a ‘foot passenger’. If He is a member of the Amer-
he is now a pedestrian because he is for example she had been using it as a ican Association for Justice and the Lawyer
“afoot.” (Veh. Code, §, 467(a).) As a scooter by having one foot on the pedal Pilots Bar Association. Consumer Attorneys of
pedestrian, the bicycle owner has the and pushing herself along, she would California honored him with a Trial Lawyer
right of way. But what if the bicycle owner not have been a ‘foot passenger.’ of the Year nomination and he has been named
is “scootering” the bicycle? That is, what Crank v. Brooks (1980) RTR 441, 442-3. a Northern California Super Lawyer each
if he gets off the bike, places one foot on Here in California, “scootering” a year since the award’s inception in 2004.
a pedal, and uses his other foot to push bicycle may itself be illegal. Vehicle Code Thomson Reuters named him one of the “Top
the bike along the crosswalk? That issue Section 21204a states that “No person 100” Super Lawyers in Northern California
recently arose in a case tried in San operating a bicycle upon a highway shall in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016.
Mateo. As it turns out, there is no clear ride other than upon or astride a perma-
U.S. authority addressing whether one nent and regular seat attached thereto.”

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