Thank you to the Santa Monica police officer who, around 1:40 p.m. March 29, used his patrol car’s bullhorn to tell a cyclist on the 11th Street sidewalk between Broadway and Santa Monica Boulevard, “Get off the sidewalk. Use the bike lane!”

For those who don’t know, it’s illegal to ride your bike on Santa Monica city sidewalks (Santa Monica Municipal Code Section 3.12.540). Also, for those who don’t know, I complain about cyclists riding on the sidewalks in Santa Monica all the time. I’m a 25-year resident of Santa Monica and I work here too, so I rarely use my car.

Every day I see dozens of cyclists riding on the sidewalks in my neighborhood and have been knocked down by a few over the years. I’ve told many cyclists that it’s illegal to ride on the sidewalks only to hear, “Sorry!” “OK” or “It is?” (or worse) as they continue riding on the sidewalk. It’s particularly frustrating when SMPD police cars drive right past cyclists on the sidewalks during the day and do nothing. Why have a law if it’s not uniformly enforced?

I believe most of the city’s cyclists use the bike lanes, but those who ride on the sidewalks create a real hazard for pedestrians who only have the sidewalks and the very dangerous crosswalks on which to somewhat safely traverse the city. Pedestrians, many of whom carry groceries/shopping bags, use walkers, canes, crutches and wheelchairs, push baby carriages, shepherd children, have impaired vision or, like me, walk with their dog(s), share and negotiate the available narrow sidewalk space with runners/joggers/skateboarders/scooters and simultaneously navigate broken and wildly uneven sidewalks and driveways blocked by parked cars or construction.

This is why it’s important for the police take a proactive role to encourage otherwise perfectly lovely sidewalk cyclists to obey the law. Cyclists, if you think Santa Monica streets are too dangerous to use the bike lanes, then walk your bike on the sidewalks until you feel safe or just leave your bike at home and become a pedestrian. Please, SMPD, I know riding a bicycle on the sidewalk isn’t the worst crime in the city, but pedestrians need you to be more active in, if nothing else, using your bullhorn to tell side-walk cyclists to use the bike lanes. While there are miles to go before Santa Monica can legitimately claim to be pedestrian-friendly, at least I saw a small victory when that police office did his job and told the cyclist where to ride. Thank you!

Dee Cappelli
Santa Monica

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