Little known city bylaw allows riders on resdential sidewalks

A Sacramento pedestrian is seeking $3.5million from the city council for compensation for pain and suffering caused when she was hit from behind on a pavement by a cyclist.

Hilary Abramson, 59, says that Sacramento still has a little-known city code by which it’s legal for cyclists to ride on sidewalks in residential areas.

This, she says, should be rewritten to prevent ‘dangerous’ cyclists like the one that left her in hospital for two and a half weeks and left her leg permanently shortened and having to walk with a cane.

“No bikes should be on sidewalks in an urban environment,” Abramson told the Sacramento Bee. “I feel this is the best way to bring it to the City Council’s attention. This is serious. I want to make sure I have done everything I can to try to prevent this from happening again before someone gets killed.

“It is time to educate bicyclists and put muscle into a joke of a local bicycle law.”

In California, the state Vehicle Code says that cyclists should ride on the street, but individual cities are allowed to establish their own local rules.

In this case it reads: “No person shall ride a bicycle on a sidewalk except within a residence district or where a sidewalk is designated as part of an established bicycle route. Pedestrians shall have the right-of-way on sidewalks.”

Abramson’s lawyer, John Poswall, said the code “leaves it to said bicyclists to operate in any manner they see fit including, as here, coming up behind a pedestrian, providing no warning, wearing headphones (that make them) inattentive.”

Poswall said that if the city rejects the claim, Abramson will file a lawsuit.

Sacramento City Councilman Jay Schenirer said he plans to convene a City Council committee meeting in November to discuss what the city can do to make the streets safer for cycling. He said he has talked with Abramson and will include the sidewalk cycling issue in the discussion.

The cyclist who hit Abramson remains unidentified. Abramson said the young man stopped and tried to help her up, telling her he was sorry. When others came over to help, he left, Poswall said.

Also in the US, last month we reported how controversy has broken out across New York over a police decision not to charge a cyclist who hit a pedestrian, leaving her brain-dead and eventually killing her

Jason Marshall, 31, was riding in a bike lane when he swerved out of it into the traffic lane to avoid a group of pedestrians, and hit Jill Tarlov, 59, in Central Park.

Mr Marshall and witnesses agree that he shouted to warn Mrs Tarlov, the wife of CBS executive Michael Wittman and mother of two that he was coming, but there was disagreement over whether the cyclist was speeding or not, and numerous commentators have speculated that even if he had the green light to proceed, he should have been in a position to brake and avoid hitting the pedestrian.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.