The answer is yes and no. Spokane city sidewalk ordinance prohibits riding on sidewalks in the retail area of downtown Spokane, but it’s allowed on sidewalks outside the retail zones. In Washington state, the law allows each city to determine its rules on riding bikes and scooters on sidewalks.
The City of Spokane chose to allow bikes on most sidewalks, but in areas of high pedestrian traffic around retail outlets, the city balances chose to keep certain sidewalks free from bicycles. The city ordinance Section 16A.04.010 and 16A.04.020 both describe which downtown area sidewalks are off limits to cyclists.
Safety for Cyclists and Pedestrians
The ordinance was passed by the city to balance the need for the needs of cyclist’s safety and access versus safety for pedestrians. Since bikes move faster than people walking, riding on the sidewalks can and will cause a certain amount of accidents each year. In most of these cases, the pedestrian is on the losing end of the collision because of the speed and momentum of the cyclist.
Retail shop owners also complain to the city about cyclists making the sidewalks in front of their shops unsafe for their prospective customers.
Cyclist and Pedestrian Injuries
When a cyclist and a pedestrian collide, the injuries can be significant. A cyclist has little protection and a pedestrian has none. In both cases, the person is injured from the impact and then hits the pavement and often suffers further injury.
Most of these are broken bones, scrapes, strains and bruises, but some more serious injuries can occur to the head like a traumatic brain injury. The law looks at the actions of both the pedestrian and the cyclist and determines which is at fault, and that person is responsible for the injuries and financial losses of the victim.