Pete Heller, Bicycle Pedestrian Commissioner

The Bicycle Pedestrian Commission (BPC) pushed for changes to Cupertino’s code relating to cycling on sidewalks.  Thanks to the forward looking City Council the revised ordinance passed and the new law is now in effect. What has changed? The previous law stated that only children under the age of 10 were allowed to ride on sidewalks and no one else. This meant that adults riding alongside their kids were in violation of the law. Clearly that is not what we want as a community.   The new law does is different in two important ways:
  • Raises the age for children allowed to ride on sidewalks from 9 to age 12 and under.  
  • Allows adults to ride together with children age 12 and below on sidewalks.  (Adults riding without children themselves are not allowed per current regulations.)
Why make these changes? The BPC has learned through local surveys, anecdotal evidence and external research is:
  1. The critical time to influence people’s interest/desire to ride a bike is up to and while they’re in middle school.  Once in high school habits have formed that are difficult to overcome.  
  2. Parental approval is required for middle school and younger children to be allowed to ride bikes to school.  
Therefore this ordinance provides the trifecta for increasing cycling as an alternative to auto transportation:
  • Gives adults the confidence to allow their kids ride to school
  • Gives kids a safer way to ride up to and including their middle school years
  • Gives parents the opportunity to legally ride with their kids and instruct them on cycling safety.  (It also can increase adults confidence in their own cycling.)
Was this a contentious discussion at City Council? The discussion did take time since the ordinance involves kids potentially interacting with autos in crosswalks.  However, since the BPC had invested heavily in making the ordinance clear and fair it withstood the scrutiny.  Furthermore the back and forth is a good proxy for the council members interest in increasing cycling’s appeal as a mainstream transportation mode.