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Twice in the last week I've seen the Spokane Police bike patrols riding on no-ride sidewalks. It's a photo opportunity that's bound to happen. (That and the cop on the cell phone while driving.) I also see lots of people riding their bikes on the sidewalks downtown. And lots of people riding without helmets. SPD has higher priority stuff to deal with. But they'll probably start "emphasis patrols" like they occasionally do for jay walkers. And then we'll feel--safe?


Hank, the SPD bike patrol is exempt from the sidewalk restrictions, which I think is alright since they are like beat cops walking a route.


I think the 'bike communities' passion regarding sidewalk bike riding is entirely generated internally and I highly doubt police will care. . .

We should spend more time trying to just get more people on bikes!


I ride a cruiser on the sidewalks all the time. It's not nearly fast enough or well-enough equipped to ride safely in the road, so I ride slowly (often at a pace akin to a fast walk, but much more enjoyable), making sure I'm mindful of any pedestrians and stopping before intersections. I feel that this should be perfectly acceptable, but I still wonder if others agree.


thanks for sharing this, metro! i was wondering about this the other day while walking in downtown seattle on my way to work.

and way to go, spokane, for having the most detailed outline for bike riding on sidewalks!


Max, I think the cops do care. At least one does. I got pulled over for blowing a stop sign on Second the other day. The officer said, "I appreciate that you're wearing a helmet and you're riding on the street like you're supposed to" before adding, "But it's the same $124 ticket for failing to stop on a bike as it is for a car." Luckily, he let me go with a warning.

(Of course, at 2nd and Madison, I was also outside the forbidden zone outlined above. So it doesn't appear that the cops are paying real close attention to Spokane's gloriously detailed code.)


If I remember right, there was a lady coming out of the Spokesman Review bldg a number of years ago who was struck and killed by a cyclist. This might have some bearing on the detailed city code for where you can ride.


I remember when the woman was killed by the bicycle and the ordinance was written as a result of the incident. Bikes are much to fast to be on busy city streets, but maybe we should encourage bells for those who commute too.


"Congested Districts?" Downtown Spokane is only congested on the streets themselves which is why I ride my bicycle on the sidewalk all the time, it's much safer. For me there are only two places that you have to dodge people constantly: outside River prk Sq. and the Satellite Diner. There's also the Plaza but they have a very strict no bicycle riding policy on their property.

I agree on the notion that SPD probably doesn't care if your riding your bike on the sidewalk. For half a year I've been commuting from my apartment in Carnegie Square to my job at the Saranac Building passing by many cop cars without a problem, that's a trip across the "restricted" zone and back! I don't even get a "wear a helmet" speech, and I've been hassled about smoking less than 20 feet from a door/window!

People riding their bikes/skateboards on the sidewalks is clearly the least of their worries.

Silent Bahb

Not having ridden downtown all that much, due the fact that it can be just too damn scary on the road (Monroe St. during the bridge construction on Maple as a prime example right now) but I have to say, it's not neccessarily prudent or fair to prevent responsible sidewalk riding while providing almost no street amenities for bicycles. How about, instead of a blanket ban, an ordinance allowing for certain fines for RECKLESS sidewalk riding? I know that opens it up for interpretation, but c'mon. Cops have brains too, you know.

Jon Snyder

There's nothing necessarily wrong with responsible sidewalk riding but unfortunately most of the sidewalk riding I see downtown is reckless and not responsible. Riders weaving through pedestrians not stopping at intersections etc.

But I have one message for any who thinks sidewalk bike riding downtown is safer than riding the street; You are on crack. When you ride the sidewalk you are much less safe because you enter and exit traffic every block and cars can't see you. Near my office on E. Sprague I know of two cyclists who have visited the emergency room in the last year because of collisions with cars--both were riding the sidewalk. Downtown Spokane is actually a great place to ride a bike. Because there are so many lights traffic never gets going as fast as it can on outlying arterials. Give it a try. Even on a cruiser.


Jon Snyder is correct. Ride like responsible cyclists. In general, it is less safe to ride on sidewalks than the streets. Although, some streets are ill-designed and don't have the capacity for bikes. Bikes have been largely ignored throughout the past as our modern transportation systems have been developed, unforunately. It is starting to come to a front now as more and more are opting for 2 wheels instead of the automobile. It will be a challenge to adapt bikes to our current systems and to change attitudes.

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