Is a Person on a Bicycle a Pedestrian? Exploring the Legal Definition

It is important to understand the category we lie in when out on the road. This article discusses whether a person on a bicycle is a pedestrian.

The issue of whether a person on a bicycle is a pedestrian has a bone of contention for many years. Pedestrians are considered the most vulnerable group on the road. 

And, as a cyclist you want to enjoy the benefits of a pedestrian. But can you really be considered a pedestrian?

I’ll delve into the intricacies on this topic. Continue reading…

Who Is a Pedestrian?

The term “pedestrian” can refer to anyone using a device that is pushed by their own power, such as a skateboard, in addition to those on foot. This definition also includes people using a wheelchair.

In California, the list of those who are considered pedestrians on public streets is included in the Driver Handbook published by the California DMV.

Let’s recap that again: “A pedestrian is a person who is on foot or who uses a mode of transportation other than a bicycle, such as roller skates, a skateboard, etc. A person with a disability who travels by tricycle, quadricycle, or wheelchair can also be considered a pedestrian.”

The same “duty of care” that drivers owe to all pedestrians applies to those who are using crutches, a knee walker, or a knee scooter. The mode of transportation may be something like rollerblades or a non-motorized scooter. 

According to jurisdictions such as California, cyclists and riders of electric bikes are not regarded as pedestrians. 

When riding a bicycle on a road, cyclists are typically treated like drivers. They are required to give pedestrians the right of way in the same situations when a driver would be required to do so.

According to traffic laws, a pedestrian is a person traveling on foot. This includes people walking, running, jogging, hiking, or using a wheelchair. 

However, a person on a bicycle is not considered a pedestrian. A bicycle is considered a vehicle, and the person riding it is considered a cyclist.

Rules for Riding a Bicycle on the Road

Now that we’ve established that a cyclist is not a pedestrian. Here are the rules of the road that a cyclist needs to be aware of:

Yielding to Pedestrians

Bicyclists are not considered pedestrians, and they are required to follow the same rules of the road as motorists. Bicyclists should always yield to pedestrians, especially when riding on sidewalks or in crosswalks. 

When approaching a pedestrian, bicyclists should slow down and give them plenty of space.

Bicycle Lane Etiquette

Bicycle lanes are designated areas on the road for bicyclists to ride in. When riding in a bicycle lane, bicyclists should stay to the right and ride in the same direction as traffic. 

They should also be aware of other bicyclists and yield to faster riders. If a bicyclist needs to pass another rider, they should do so on the left and give a clear signal before moving over.

Don’t let your ego get in the way of your safety. If someone is faster, just yield the way. More often than not, you’ll realize that there’s always someone faster than you!

Sharing the Road with Other Vehicles

Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other vehicles on the road. They should ride in the same direction as traffic and obey traffic signs and signals. 

Bicyclists should also be aware of their surroundings and avoid weaving in and out of traffic. When riding near parked cars, you should be cautious of opening doors and give yourself plenty of space to work with.

When passing a bicyclist, motorists should give them at least three feet of clearance. They should also be aware of bicyclists when making turns and be cautious of bicyclists riding in their blind spots.

Pedestrian Safety and Bicycle Accidents

Pedestrian safety is a top priority. You must be aware of their surroundings and take precautions to avoid accidents. You should always yield to pedestrians on sidewalks and in crosswalks. 

Bicycle accidents can cause serious injuries to both cyclists and pedestrians. In the event of an accident, determine who was at fault.

 If you were negligent and caused the accident, you will be held liable for any injuries or damages that result. 

Here are my top tips to improve safety:

  • Use a bicycle helmet. It reduces damage in case of an accident. Not just any helmet though, a quality one.
  • Improve the visibility of riders. Use reflectors and lights.
  • Reduce using your phone or other distractions when biking or driving (headphones, etc.). 
  • Reduce impaired riding (riding when on influence of drugs).
  • Follow traffic rules to the letter.


What do you call a bicycle person?

If you ride a bicycle, you can be referred to as a cyclist, a rider, a biker or a bicyclist.

What is the difference between a cyclist and a pedestrian?

A pedestrian is anyone that does not use motorized means of transport (they have to move by their own power). Pedestrians are people on foot, those on skateboards or even wheelchairs. Cyclists are people that move using a bicycle.

What is a wheeled pedestrian?

This is a person walking on a kick scooter, inline skates, or other items with small wheels pushed by human power.

What happens if a cyclist hits a pedestrian?

Everything relies on the accident’s specific circumstances. The rider might not be held accountable if the pedestrian abruptly entered the bike lane. However, if the cyclist struck the pedestrian directly after failing to stop at a crossing, then the cyclist may be held liable.

Why are people called pedestrians?

The term “pedestrian” originally meant “foot” and is still used to describe people who walk or use their feet as a mode of transportation. Early on, it was used in opposition to the term “equestrian,” which is used to describe those who ride on horses. Over time, the term “pedestrian” also came to mean “boring” or “unimaginative,” maybe because walking is less thrilling than riding.

Are cyclists allowed to ride a cross with pedestrians?

This happens in toucan crossings. Toucan Crossings are generally used next to a cycle route and are made to be used by both walkers and cyclists at the same time. As with Pelican and Puffin crossings, you may recognize them by the cycle symbol that is displayed on the yellow box where you make your request to cross.

Summing Up

A person on a bicycle is not considered a pedestrian. They are considered cyclists and must follow the same rules of the road as drivers of other vehicles. 

Take precautions when you’re out cycling. In the event of an accident, fault must be determined and compensation will be awarded to the injured party.

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