Cyclists on the Sidewalk: What's a pedestrian to do?

So a cyclist is cruising down the sidewalk, and there’s a close call with a pedestrian — or maybe even a collision. Harsh words are exchanged.

You should be in the street, you mountain of mad flesh!

I can’t ride in the street, you cockered dread-bolted strumpet. There’s no bike lane!

Listen, you rampallian, you fustilarian, you’re not allowed on the sidewalk!

What?! You are certainly mistaken, beetle-headed, flap-ear’d knave!*

This discussion, however, does not resolve the issue.

Later, when the two have gone their separate ways, each in their own domicile, they go to their respective computers and do this:

Google: Bike on SidewalkAnd to settle this issue once and for all, look what they find at the top of the search results. It’s our very own article, “Top 5 Rules for Riding on the Sidewalk.”

Originally published more than three years ago — that’s 21 in dog years; 121 in Internet years — it continues to be one of the most popular pages on this site. Settling bets, resolving disputes, and pissing people off since 2008. Just look at the comments.

And I’m guessing that is how a “fit grandmother” named Denise, from University Place, Washington, found herself on this site and then contacted me.

Denise is not a cyclist, she’s a walker, and she was on the pedestrian side of one of these exchanges.

She told me,

I am all for bikes and bike lanes. We have wonderful bike lanes in my neighborhood, but people still choose to ride on the sidewalk.

I have been yelled at from behind and just about had a heart attack and I was hit once because people still ride on the sidewalk.

It is not illegal to ride on it either. As I said, we have WONDERFUL bike lanes and I do not understand why I helped have these installed with my tax dollars so I could still get hit and scared by some bikers.

The woman who hit me got back on her bike and said with a giggle, “sorry” and rode on. She never stopped long enough to see if I was okay.

She didn’t think it was a big deal, but I was unable to take my walks for three days because of pain, and I was fearful to go out there again.

Bridgeport Way, University Place, WA
Bridgeport Way, University Place, WA | Image: Google Street View

It was a few weeks before I saw her again, that was yesterday morning. She’s still riding on the sidewalk, oblivious to sidewalk manners. Most people I see DO use the bike lanes and the people who have used the sidewalk have been very considerate. It is this one person I am trouble with. I am afraid if I don’t see her coming again, she will crash into me again. I like to relax on my walk and not feel I have to watch out like I do when crossing traffic.

The bike lanes here are really awesome too! They are in University Place WA on Bridgeport. If you can, check ’em out! They are wide and don’t get shared with parked cars like in many places. There is no reason for any adult not to use them!

I did a little digging, and could not find out whether or not it is actually legal to ride on the sidewalk in University Place. A nice person named Emilita at City Hall directed me to a Website with all of the City ordinances, including one requiring helmets on all cyclists (which I mention only as crazy bait). But I found nothing explicitly allowing or prohibiting bikes on sidewalks.

State law was not explicit either, instead referring readers to sidewalk rules in local municipalities. Frustrated, a little bored, and with other stuff to do, I abandoned my legal research on behalf of Denise.

I confess to occasionally riding on the sidewalk. On my daily commute, to be honest. My rationalizations are a mix of 90% lazyness, and 10% safety. For me to ride entirely to work without using a sidewalk adds an extra half mile of mingling with traffic including two left turns in heavy traffic — as opposed to a 50-yard guilty slink on a sidewalk while pretending to be invisible. If I were to walk my bike this stretch, it would add only about one minute to my commute, but I don’t. I should, but I don’t.

But my demeanor is always, I don’t really belong here and I promise not to be a bother. It’s the same attitude I take if I walk into a restaurant where I will not be dining and use the bathroom.

Yes, I do that too sometimes. I know. I’m a terrible person.

Obviously, I don’t take an absolutist position on never biking on the sidewalk. I always think of two extremes in my bike-commuting life experience.

One is downtown Washington, DC, where cycling on the sidewalk among the crowded foot traffic would have been plain stupid most of the time. Bike lanes are not universal, but the speed of motor traffic tends to be slow, and the motorists for the most part are used to mingling with cyclists.

The other is Phoenix, Arizona, with its long, straight, sidewalks, where you can see the scant pedestrians from up to a mile ahead. There are few bike lanes, and the motorists commonly flout the 35 and 45 mph speed limits. I’d use the sidewalks and not feel the slightest bit of guilt.

For cyclists, most decisions about whether or not to bike on a sidewalk occur between these two extremes.

This Web site has lots of information and advice on how to deal with those “highly fed and lowly taught”* non-cyclists — from dogs to motorists. But how should a pedestrian deal with one of us when one of us is behaving badly? The cyclist described by Denise acts as though she has the right of way — as though it is the obligation of pedestrians on the sidewalk to get out of her way.

Me? When I see a cyclist riding down a sidewalk as though it were meant for bikes, I make sure to get in the cyclist’s way — casually and subtly, as though I’m just walking along enjoying my right of way. I’m kind of obsessive about etiquette and right of way. I want to make the street look like a better option.

But I don’t think Denise is up for that.

So what should she do?

* Shakespearean insults and epithets taken from a coffee mug acquired from The Unemployed Philosophers Guild.

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40 thoughts on “Cyclists on the Sidewalk: What's a pedestrian to do?”

  1. Justin Winokur says:

    I agree about being on the sidewalk. I only do it if I have to. Personally, legality aside, I don’t like it because I go too slow.

    When I am on a sidewalk, I consider myself 2nd class user. That is, I will slow to a crawl if I can’t pass someone walking. There is one patch on my way home where the street is under construction but the sidewalk is open. I was riding down it very slowly behind someone since there wasn’t passing room. The woman then stepped onto the stoop to let me pass. I said, “Thanks, I appreciate it but I would have waited since I’m on the sidewalk.” She was very nice a responded, “good, but I live here.” I just thought that was kinda funny

  2. Ben says:

    I saw a smaller person on a bicycle headed straight for me on the sidewalk once, and decided to stand my ground until they swerved at the last minute after a sarcastic rhetorical question from me about whether or not they were planning to stop. My position ever since has been that I’ll only get out of the way if the cyclist is bigger than me, which is not a frequent occurrence.

  3. BluesCat says:

    If you follow Ted’s Google street-level map link in this article, and then proceed north to the signaled intersection, you see that the bike lane goes all the way to meet up with the crosswalk at the intersection. If all the bike lanes in Phoenix did this, I would SO use the bike lanes here AND I would be a rabid proponent of them.

    But MOST of the bike lanes in Phoenix are like this Suicide Stupid Bike Lane. The bike lane ends a full two to three car lengths ahead of the crosswalk, which leaves you in a “pinch contest” with motorists. Ain’t gonna do it … I’ll slow to walking speed and head up onto the sidewalk LONG before the bike lane ends.

    Oh, and I don’t about Washington, but there is an excellent discussion of bicycles and sidewalks in the Sidewalk Cycling – Arizona Bike Law Blog. My feeling, STILL, is if I think the street is dangerous for my bike and me, I’m gonna be up on the sidewalk … they can even ARREST me if the particular community has a law against it.

  4. RM says:

    I generally agree with what you’ve said. As a bike rider, there are a few things that make sidewalk-riding more appealing than being on the street. Living in the suburbs of Dallas, there are no bike lanes and the sidewalks normally have very little foot-traffic. Everyone drives or takes the bus. It’s amazing we even have sidewalks. Then there are just parts of my commute or frequent trips that seem to me more dangerous, like riding at night down a street lined with bars full of 20-somethings. However, as I’ve gotten more confident in riding, I’ve started to move into the street more often. When I am riding on the sidewalk I will yield the right of way to a pedestrian and pass only if there is room. I’ll announce my presence with “On your left”, but often this seems to be just as startling as passing unannounced.

  5. Tara says:

    I do ride on the sidewalk occasionally, mostly for safety. But when I do, I take the approach mandated on our local multi-use trails: pedestrians take priority. (Actually, on the trails, the order is horses > pedestrians > cyclists). If I have to slow down to a crawl because it’s not safe to pass, that’s what I’ll do. What’s frustrating with sharing these spaces is the number of pedestrians/joggers with iPods, meaning I can’t communicate with them (bell or shouting) prior to {attempting to) safely pass them.

  6. Andy says:

    Sidewalk cycling is just plain bad. If you “need” to use the sidewalk, WALK.

  7. J-Dub says:

    When I first started bike commuting I stayed on the sidewalks out of sheer terror; I was certain that every moment on the street was a moment closer to getting flattened. Now that I’m slightly more comfortable I very, very rarely use the sidewalk. The one exception is this little side street on my route where there is no shoulder or lane, and the car are basically racing to the light for some reason. I don’t have the leg strength yet to move fast enough that I don’t obstruct traffic, so I get on the sidewalk. Unfortunately the sidewalk is also tiny, and tall bushes make it difficult to see pedestrians (who are very rare on that stretch luckily). As I get stronger I hope to be able to avoid using it.

  8. Gene @ BU says:

    My advice to Denise is to file a complaint with local law enforcement. Denise was struck by a bike which is operating under the motor vehicle code of her state. In effect the cyclist should be issued a ticket and if Denise was injured then she should sue for damages. Simple as that.

    I believe the presumption is that bikes belong on the road and off-road (trails, paths, etc) where expressly allowed and even if allowed foot traffic has the right of way.

    The exception is children under 10 appear to have the right to sidewalks.

    This is another case of dealers (bike shops and big box stores) can sell bikes but provide little opportunities for rider education. The assumption is if you can balance you can ride a bike. Huge mistake and one of the primary reasons for misunderstandings and confrontations.

    1. Ted Johnson says:

      Now we’re talking!

      I was hoping for some more general tips on how a pedestrian might safely engage with, and enlighten cyclists who choose the sidewalk. But Denise is really only having problems with this one person — although she is frustrated that more cyclists don’t use the bike lanes the city has provided.

      Then there’s the long-view activist strategy: Engage with the city. Seek clarification of the law. Request that the city educate cyclists, and maybe put some of this kindly worded “dismount zone” signs painted right on the sidewalk, as I saw in Durango, Colorado.

      Dismount Zone

  9. Hivemind says:

    Cyclists shouldn’t be on the footpath. Any cyclist who is on the footpath should make every effort to ensure they don’t inconvenience pedestrians in any way.

    Having said that the ‘my taxes’ bit from Denise is sad. If she does want to go there she should consider that it is just as relevant (or irrelevant) that the cylists taxes pay for the sidewalk.

  10. BikeCommuterDave says:

    I always thought it wasn’t legal to ride on sidewalks – it certainly seems unsafe (at least here in Westchester, NY). I never do it. People in cars occasionally yell at me to use the sidewalks which has always seemed absurd to me.

  11. Paul S. says:

    I’m like you, Ted, I occasionally ride on the sidewalks when it’s kind of a major hassle if I don’t, and I feel a bit guilty about it afterward. But I never do this if there’s a lot of pedestrian traffic and I go really, really slow if there are any pedestrians present at all. I often dismount.

    I agree with Gene that people should report what amounts to a hit and run to the police, but very much disagree that it’s “simple as that.” As it turns out, reporting problems often doesn’t get them solved, especially with a non-injury accident. Meanwhile, Denise still has to walk on that same sidewalk and is stuck with the same problem, fear of getting hit by a bike.

    I don’t think bikes belong on most sidewalks (specifically designated multi-use paths are a notable exception). I agree with Denise that the existence of the bike paths makes it especially difficult to understand why cyclists would need to ride on sidewalks in that area. Perhaps the answer to her future safety is to petition to make bikes off limits on some or all of the sidewalks of her town. It sounds like a college town, so lots of “no bikes allowed” signs on the corners of key sidewalks would probably also help.

    I know us cyclists hate to self-limit what we’re allowed to do, but this is some pretty minor ground to give up in favor of the greater good.

  12. Misty says:

    There is no black and white to this issue. No traveler (regardless of mode of travel) is completely safe on the streets or sidewalk unless all the people involved are watchful and considerate of their fellow travelers. The unspoken etiquette of the road with regards to bicycles varies by location, so there’s no “one size fits all” solution.

    That being said, I can’t believe anyone would advocate that pedestrians should deliberately stand in the way of passing bicycle traffic. You can’t control other people’s manners, but you CAN control your own, and this kind of behavior is asinine and immature.

    If rush hour traffic in the city has taught me anything, it’s that passive aggressiveness never solved anything. All it tends to do is piss people off and give the passive aggressive person a false sense of power. And when two of these kinds of people meet, it usually ends in accidents as they both try to play “chicken.”

    But forget the potential safety implications, and forget that it makes you look like the giant jerk and is unlikely to change the cyclist’s behavior in any positive way. As cyclists, do you really want it to be socially acceptable for pedestrians to play chicken with cyclists just because they’re pissed that the cyclist is on the sidewalk?

  13. Andy says:

    Occasionally cycling on the sidewalk is just as reasonable as occasionally driving through the bikes lanes – i.e. both are an awful idea. It may be a convenience at the moment, but it’s illegal in most places, and just plain dangerous and selfish. It’s not going to ruin your day to hop off and walk a hundred feet if you want to connect roads via the sidewalk.

  14. BluesCat says:

    Unless a particular local jurisdiction in Washington state has additional restrictions in its ordinances, bicyclists on sidewalks are NOT operating as motor vehicles.

    Washington has a specific statute, RCW 46.61.261, which states “The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian or bicycle on a sidewalk. The rider of a bicycle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian on a sidewalk or crosswalk.” (Emphasis is mine.)

    So, Denise can do even MORE than simply lodge a complaint, she can ask that the bicyclist be cited and fined under RCW 46.61.261, and that’s what I think she should do.

  15. Denise says:

    I don’t know, this person was smaller than I, but it still hurt like you would not believe! The thing is, I thought she’d go around; she had plenty of room. It is not like I was hogging the side walk.

    Maybe I need to wear a football uniform and run into her so she can see what it feels like!

  16. Denise says:

    OK so how do I lodge a complaint on someone I have no idea who she is and I only see her on occasion? I love the idea, but it’s like getting robbed. The crime is done, the buglers are gone and there is no evidence. I understand the law, that I have the legal right of way, but how do I do it without evidence?
    I appreciate the help, but this woman needs a different method of understanding. I made a joke about a baseball bat, but that was not well received. It WAS a joke, with an edge of seriousness.
    Thanks for trying and I will keep it in mind if I can find a way to use that law. It’s sort of useless at this point.

  17. Disabled Cyclist says:

    I agree that we shouldn’t ride them (sidewalks),and-with the exception of that one dangerous stretch downtown and then only when with my 9 year old riding with me-I never do.

    Not sure if this is a relevant question,but…if we’re 2nd class road users,and as mentioned above 2nd class sidewalk users,when the hell are we not just 2nd classers?

  18. azbikelaw says:

    my page on sidewalk cycling is the second most popular page year after year(after the page about motorized bicycles, go figure):

    “The other is Phoenix, Arizona, … I’d use the sidewalks and not feel the slightest bit of guilt”
    I don’t know about guilt– but you should know that in the large majority of collisions in Phoenix, the cyclist was riding on the sidewalk just prior to the collision:

    with contra-flow sidewalk riding particularly over-represented.

  19. Joel says:

    In the state of New Jersey, bicycles are given equal privileges to access public roadways as motor vehicles. On the flip-side, they are given no protection when they use sidewalks which are stated for pedestrians only.

    Like it or not, strike a pedestrian on a bicycle in New Jersey on a sidewalk and you are liable, period. It is as simple and cut-and-dried as rear ending a vehicle. The only time a cyclist can legally use a sidewalk is when they are dismounted and walking their bike.

    You can use your lawyer, you can cite all of the safety talk you want, you will be found guilty.

    If I cannot ride safely on the road to work as I commute, then I need to find an alternate route, means of transportation, or dismount the bike. We bury ourselves as cyclist when we insist on using sidewalks which are reserved for pedestrian use according to law.

  20. Spence says:

    I’ll be posting on riding on sidewalks soon. Thank you for posting on a crucial topic. I apply the golden rule on sidewalks granting and telling pedestrians they have the right of way.
    I never try to make good time on the sidewalk if there is even one walker.

  21. BluesCat says:

    Ed’s AzBikeLaw blog sets the gold standard for information about cycling safety and the law. I was really intrigued by the data in the Phoenix bicycle collision summary table (the second link in his post). While it is certainly true that the majority of bike accidents in Phoenix take place when the cyclist was riding the sidewalk just prior to the accident, you need to take a closer look at that data.

    When Phoenix bicyclists were riding in the street, and not near an intersection or a driveway, there were a total of 21 accidents; there were NO accidents when a bicyclist was on the sidewalk and not near an intersection or a driveway. There were no accidents at driveways when the cyclist was riding in the street.

    The vast majority of vehicle/bicycle accidents take place when a bicyclist has just left the sidewalk and is in a marked crosswalk, and it really isn’t any mystery to me why that is so. Most pedestrians, and even a lot of bicyclists, think the stripes of a marked crosswalk are some kind of miraculous Safety Zone where vehicles can’t touch them; they strike out into the roadway, evidently thinking that the cars will ALWAYS stop. And most motorists are evidently ignorant of the laws regarding marked crosswalks. There isn’t day that I drive in Phoenix when I am NOT passed by a car in the adjoining lane when there is a solid white between us signaling that we are approaching a marked crosswalk.

    So, in my opinion, whether there is a sidewalk there or not is irrelevant, the root cause of such accidents are the cyclists believing in the magic of a line painted on the roadway, and the motorists ignoring the warning of a line painted on the roadway.

  22. BluesCat says:

    Denise – Here’s what ya do: Print out the web page info for RCW 46.61.261 that I gave you in that link, above. Glue it to a piece of stiff cardboard.

    Carry it with you in an open pocket of your bag. The next time that disrespecting bicyclist comes gliding close to you, take it out and smack her in the face with it the way you’d hit somebody with a cream pie.

    You have a perfect excuse: “But, officer, I was just trying to show her the law about yielding the right of way to me!”

  23. Gene @ BU says:

    Is anyone writing bicycle insurance in Canada or the US right now? If so, I’m out of the loop. As far as I can tell, no insurer is writing such a policy.

    If you have a car, you get car insurance. That policy typically contains a number of different coverages. If you hit someone in your car, you are covered. If your car is damaged, your policy can cover it. If you are hit by an uninsured motorist, or one without enough insurance, this policy may provide a pool of money to pay your claim. The “Medical Payments” coverage can be used to pay your medical bills the uninsured motorist coverage pay for your property damage.

    What if you are a true transportation cyclist and give up your car? Who pays the claim if you run somebody over? What if you get hit by an uninsured motorist? What kind of insurance is available to protect you?

    The short answer is that it is much easier to protect yourself on the bike if you own a car.

    If you do NOT own a car, there is no “Uninsured/Underinsured” policy that will protect you if you are hit by an uninsured motorist or liability coverage if a cyclist hits someone and gets sued. No one appears to be selling this type of “Bicycle Insurance”, as far as I am aware.

    In the UK such policies are available for full time cyclists and appear to be very reasonably priced. On the other some of these policies require wearing a helmet and bright clothing, having bike lights, and following the law or your claim may be denied.

  24. Gene @ BU says:

    Misty; Perhaps there is a way to incent that, “all the people involved are watchful and considerate of their fellow travelers”.

    The concept of “Strict Liability” is based on the principle that anyone who uses a vehicle that might become a dangerous object in a collision, should be liable to compensate for any injuries arising from the use of that vehicle on the road.

    Strict Liability rules apply in the Netherlands and Germany and these rules encourage road users to adopt a measure of due care for others. Strict Liability makes the most powerful vehicle in a collision liable, which would also make cyclists liable to pay compensation if they hit a pedestrian. Without this victims lose the ability to lay claim and are often left with no resources to pay for rehabilitation after a crash.

    Strict Liability provides an economic incentive for extending “due care” to others on the road or bike path or sidewalk.

  25. I may have some help for your group. Automobile insurance policies are for licensed cars, not bicycles. Your Homeowner or Renter insurance policy should protect you in event you are allegedly responsible for injuring someone else with your bicycle (a pedestrian for example). Electric bicycles are specifically excluded on these policies, though. The liability portion of your insurance policy, which is usually at least $300,000 coverage, will provide up to that limit of insurance for settlement, in event you are deemed to be responsible, plus your insurance company will provide your legal defense. I am not encouraging bicycles to ride without care, nor that injured persons rush out to sue the bicyclist for their injuries. Unfortunately, we in the US are an extremely litigious group, which is why we need insurance. It certainly is most important that laws are obeyed, safety adhered to, and you ride in bike lanes whenever possible, but in the event of an accident, if the cyclist is sued by the injured party, they could seek assistance from their home or renter insurance company.

  26. Karen says:

    I feel like a complete loser when I pedal on the sidewalk but I do it in a couple of places in Flagstaff. Milton Avenue (a state owned road) is a complete disaster. Cars travel very fast and there are few bike lanes; when they do exist they end abruptly. In a perfect world in which ADOT has plenty of money, the current narrow sidewalk, which really don’t get that much use anyway, would be torn out and wider, say 8 or 9 ft, multipaths would be installed on either side of the road. This probably won’t happen. Luckily for me pedaling on the sidewalk is legal in Flagstaff except downtown and where a bike lane or urban trail is not available.

  27. While sidewalk riding is legal in Phoenix, and I do it often, I always ride slowly and with complete deference, respect, yield, and politeness toward pedestrians. I go so slow that I usually just let them know quietly with a word or two that I am coming, such that it rarely startles them and even then, all they see is a cyclist barely rolling along. One of the last things I would want to do is to cause a conflict with a pedestrian on a sidewalk, and as far as I can recall, I never have. I have had some pleasant morning chats with them, though. Also, as Ted mentioned, I can usually see them several blocks off, and I go faster when they’re not around and I have a clear view. However, conflicts with cars exiting driveways while doing that, I have had those, and they are no good at all.

  28. In reply to AZBluesCat and his “Stupid Bike Lane” photo, and while I tend to agree with him about many aspects of cycling in Phoenix including the need to ride on the sidewalk occasionally, I disagree that the bike lanes ending as in his photo are a problem. You check traffic, look, signal, and merge. Check, look, signal, merge. The “check” has a varying time before the “look” depending on the situation, you are checking for your chances of a gap to look for and merge into. If I sense traffic isn’t going to let me in I don’t go until they do, but that’s uncommon (1 in 10 maybe?) and usually my motorists acknowledge my signal and go with my merge. Almost all the time check-look-signal-merge and going straight thru the intersection is no problem, including taking the lane when proper as part of the merge else staying to the right when they can clear me by three feet. Now, needing to turn left at the intersection out of the bike lane, instead of going straight thru, is tougher, but I did it a few times this week on Indian School in Scottsdale at rush hour, and it went OK. I just merged out of the bike lane before it ended, and traffic happened to be manageable at those moments. I do agree that the check-look-signal-merge process is a higher skill they tend not to talk about when extolling the virtues of bike lanes, but that’s what you gotta do.

  29. Karen says:

    I do check-look-signal-merge in Flagstaff on Butler at Milton here in Flag and feel like a total bad-ass! It’s like “Yah! I can do this”! I especially like it at night when I feel an extra, special bad-ass lady biker.

  30. Al says:

    I am of the “just say no to sidewalks” side of this.

    I live in a rural eastern town and the temptation here would be minimal since there are so few sidewalks outside of the one mile radius of the town itself (where sidewalk riding is explicitly dis-allowed).

    My wife likes to walk. We often walk together.
    We were visiting my daughter in Virginia Beach last summer and a rude bicyclist rode between us. He brushed into me and kept going. It was absolutely ridiculous.

    I see cyclists doing all kinds of dangerous things.
    In the United States the mentality is that if you can balance on two wheels, you can ride a bike. The result is not so much different than the “drivers” of automobiles. Real cycling education is very much lacking.

    Riding a sidewalk doesn’t make you safe any more than wearing a helmet makes you safe.

    I feel that rather than ride a sidewalk one should dismount and walk that short amount of sidewalk. On one of my locales I come upon an intersection on a hill amd with traffic oncoming and from behind. More often than not I simply pull over to the curb, dismount and walk the bike across the street as a pedestrian using a crosswalk. It is not only much safer to do so, it is faster.

    My opinion is no sidewalks.

  31. Jimbo says:

    No, I wouldn’t ride on a sidewalk with pedestrians.

  32. ruskie says:

    We’ve got quite a few bike paths that are on the sidewalks. Some are same level some are lowered a bit. Unless there’s a bike lane there is a lot of pedestrian traffic on the paths and oddly rarely any on the actual pedestrian area.

    It’s really annoying especially when most of the pedestrians seem to be distracted by that ear infection called a cell phone or in-ear headphones.

    So yeah nothing much I can do there but drive on the pedestrian area. I’d really like to equip my bike with a Fog horn for such occasions 😉

    One of the local newspapers is actually running a series of articles about commuting by bike and here’s a rough translation of one of the observations(about driving on the roads where there are no bike lanes(and frankly even when they are):

    “In case that one of the drivers gets a cosmic revelation, that you are an alien occupying his planet called “My Road” and tries to take you out.”

    So yeah I’ll rather ride on a sidewalk than risk the local drivers.

  33. 1985zoha says:

    I live on Bridgeport in University Place, and close to where this photo is taken. The fit Granny needs to calm down! First Bridgeport (almost all of it) is a straight line of clear views of the sidewalk. Unless granny was wobbling like a turtle and in the middle of the sidewalk I’m unclear how a person on a bike would hit her. Also its not like you can speed on your bike on the sidewalks. Bridgeport has too many driveways and it would be unsafe to speed on your bike on the sidewalk. Also (again being from University Place and living on bridgeport) I have never seen a lot of people ride their bikes especially not on the sidewalk. You have the few (myself included) that might take a moderate speed around the neighborhood. UP is small and not like a big city at all. It is mainly youth who might have their bikes out in the summer months. I’d really like to talk to this grandmother Denise, and find out how she managed to get hit, and by someone she was afraid to get hit by again?! What!! Reading this article is sad. I wish you could see UP and the sidewalks and how its so not busy here. You’d be laughing at this.

  34. Lloyd Thomas says:

    Arizona law requires a bell to alert pedestrians if you’re overtaking them and courtesy suggests adding ‘on your left’ as you approach, besides if pedestrians know you’re coming they’re far less likely to be startled or suddenly step into your path. Just as cars are required to yield to pedestrians and bicyclists, bicyclists are required to yield to pedestrians. Skateboarders, skaters and sign-twirlers aren’t specified by statute but probably fall under the term pedestrian. I’m slow moving anyway, top speed probably 12 mph, but slow down as I approach pedestrians or places, doorways, bus stops, etc., they may suddenly emerge.

  35. Thimking says:

    Facebook could do an experiment: load up your feed with stories about cycling fatalities, then see whether you ride on the sidewalk. I’m sure they’d consider it totally ethical.

  36. plh says:

    Here in Rhode Island sidewalk riding is legal:
    But note that the right-of-way must be yielded to pedestrians, on bike paths as well as on sidewalks:
    I hop up on briefly yet routinely for one short stretch of my daily commute because a) I lets me avoid a stretch with no shoulder and a “pinch point” corner, and b) there is almost never anyone on the sidewalk there and I can see the whole stretch as I get on to it. One morning there was a pedestrian and I jut stayed on the road & took my chances like I had formerly before I discovered this little dodge. I’m accustomed to traffic & it doesn’t freak me out any more. There is one other place in town which while not part of my commute I am on with a fair bit of frequency. That one is much more dangerous and so if I do see or encounter pedestrians I just stop or nearly so & do whatever is necessary to get by safely. It’s really bitchy with lamp posts, transformers, you name it.
    I see some riders on my commute who ride the sidewalk, counter-directionally, just because it is what they do. I did stop one guy & explain the dangers especially of the counter-directional part. He did as I suggested but then next time I saw him he was back bumping along the sidewalk on the wrong side once again. Sidewalks are nasty to ride on with their tree root enhanced seams and driveway approaches so I can’t understand why anyone would ride on them except in special circumstances.

  37. MidiMagic says:

    A bicycle should never be on a sidewalk. It’s dangerous to the pedestrian, to the cyclist, and to road vehicles.

    If it is legal to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk where you are, sue the lawmakers who gave into the environmentalists who want bicycles on the sidewalk.

    Another bit of dangerous wrongdoing by government is placing a two-way bike lane on one side of a street. Bicycles should be going the same direction the traffic on that side of the street is going.

    The bike box is another bit of dangerous wrongdoing by government. I have seen a cyclist get hit in one because a city bus blocked another driver’s view of the bike.

  38. Rick Theisen says:

    There are people who are too poor to own a car and can’t ride on the road due to a disability. They’re allowed to ride on the sidewalks. Given that not all those with disabilities have been diagnosed and not all of those diagnosed know that they can get special status to ride on sidewalks,there are likely many more who could legally be riding on the sidewalks. Being a sociology major, I know all about the logic of arguments and the statistics and studies that support them.

  39. Nate says:

    I live in DC. I am also disabled, which is precisely why I ride a bicycle if possible. I ride in the street because it’s narcissistic for me endanger pedestrians by using the sidewalk. Also, since my cycle commute I often includes near misses with other cyclists who ride full speed from sidewalks through crosswalks, I know it’s very difficult to see or anticipate the actions of cyclists who use the sidewalk. Even if you ride very slowly, if you live in a high density place like DC, it’s far safer to ride on the road, regardless of bike lane status.

    If you live in Phoenix or Yorktown with narrow rural roads that lack shoulders, and a sidewalk is available, I’d take the opposite view, but it’s simply say for everyone to ride on the street in cities.

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