Bikes on the sidewalk?

share the road bicycle sign

It's a lovely idea.

Alison emails:

Can we talk about something? Bicycle riding on the sidewalks seems to be on the rise. I'm a believer that the sidewalk is for pedestrians, and that the bicycles go in the street (exceptions if you're under 15). I noticed that in west coast cities bicycling on the sidewalk was ubiquitous, but appreciated that our east coast corner of the country did a better job of keeping the wheeled traffic on the proper side of the walkway.
But there's a shift happening, and I don't like it. We can reverse this. And safety-wise, I know we're not a city replete with designated bike lanes, however, oddly enough, accidents decrease when there are no bike lanes in the streets. Because when you're right there next to the cars, the cars are more cautious. You don't have a siphoned off safe know it, and the cars know it. It's human behavior at it's oddest (this isn't praise for our lack of lanes, just truth). So my question is this: adults on bikes on city sidewalks: friend or foe?

As avowed pedestrians, we generally frown on cycles on the sidewalk because we don't like dodging bikes, especially when they approach from behind without warning. And in many places -- such as the city of Albany -- it's against the law (if you're not under 10 years of age) to ride a bike on the sidewalk.*

That said, having seen some less than accommodating behavior by motorists with regard to bicycles on streets around town, well, we can't exactly blame someone for taking refuge on the sidewalk in some stretches. And while we've heard the claims (and counter claims) about how bikes and cars flowing together is a good thing -- as Alison states above -- we're skeptical. Maybe it works OK if you're a confident, in-shape cyclist. But you shouldn't have to be Hardcore Bike Guy to tool around town on a bike.

This specific topic -- and Alison's question -- get at the broader issue that legislation like Albany's recently-passed "Complete Streets" ordinance is intended to address going forward: that streets should be designed to safely accommodate cars, bikes, transit, and pedestrians.

One arrangement that we've thought could be good for the Capital Region: bike lanes like those in Copenhagen -- where it's traffic | parked cars| bike lane | curb. Of course, you need a wide street for that arrangement. But, as an example: one of the options in the "road diet" proposed for Madison Ave in Albany includes lanes for traffic, bikes, and parked cars (in that order). So maybe there's a way to make it work.

* Other parts of city code related to bikes: all bikes are required to have a bell, and there's an 8 mph speed limit.


Alison, the problem is that many of the streets in the Cap District are not safe for bicyclists and many motorists are not bicycle-savvy. Bicycles are a legitimate way to get back and forth to work, school or errands. They are non-polluting and healthy. But there are a many, many streets on which bicycling is a matter of taking your life into your own hands. Because you want to live, you may creep onto the sidewalks occasionally.

"Complete Streets" is a good idea but serious changes are needed to make bikes safe in the streets--like real bike lanes, and real enforcement--and many cities may not have the stomach to go all in. In the meantime, please remember the person on the bicycle is not a wise ass (usually--there are jerk bicyclists, just like jerk drivers) but somebody who is seriously trying to get from point A to point B.

I think the sidewalk is a better idea for bikes than the road. The roads around here are very narrow, and a bicycle holds up traffic. It's also safer for the cyclist, and not that dangerous for pedestrians.

Being someone who bikes to work from Center Square to Rensselaer I can say...

1. Generally drivers in downtown Albany are pretty used to bicycles on the road. Once I'm in Rensselaer, past Broadway, the story changes. One day a week I have to bike up to the SUNY East Campus, and I have to take Rt 9&20. EVERY DRIVER speeds on Rt. 9&20, and most of the drivers traveling it aren't used to bicycles on the road. I usually try to ride in the space between the white line of the right shoulder and the curbing (if any exists). But at a certain point that white line space vanishes, and the only safe way to get up the hill is to ride on the sidewalk.

2. The Dunn Memorial - according to signs which have now been removed, you were not supposed to ride on the ramps, riding on the bridge's sidewalk apparently was/is fine. However I work 4 of my 5 work periods on the 3rd shift. That means walking up a poorly lit ramp at night with a $$$ bicycle, encountering all kinds of people. Sorry, I'm not getting off my bike under those circumstances. In addition to flashing lights, and a reflective vest, I've installed a bell to give people a heads up that I'm on my way, not just for their safety, but so that I don't spook them. When I'm in favorable conditions and encounter people, I just hop off the bike, walk past them, get back on and ride away.

3. Western Ave - I used to work off 155. I decided to try biking up Western Ave, and it is a mess once you get out of Albany's boarders. The town of Guilderland should be ashamed of themselves. There ARE bike lanes on Western, but they aren't consistent. The lanes vanish and reappear out of thin air. If I remember correctly, one bike lane opens up to the on-ramp to I-87.

4. Some drivers are scared of us. I've been at multi-stop intersections where drivers have waved me on to go on ahead of them, even though I didn't have the right-of-way. They thought they were being nice, but all they were doing was creating confusion, and possibly putting me at greater risk, as another driver impatiently waits for us to figure out what we're both doing.

5. Bike lanes - The biggest problem with bike lanes near parked cars, are cars pulling out, and drivers and passengers opening their car doors. If I'm moving at 15 miles an hour, and smash into your car door, that's going to hurt. Dedicated bike lanes don't always make things safer. As pointed out in Tom Vanberbilt's "Traffic: Why we Drive The Way We Do" he points to studies that show dedicated bike lanes can make things worse. Drivers see the bike lanes as absolute spaces "I'm in my space, you're in your space", and as a result drivers won't give bicyclist as wide a berth as they typically would with a sharrow or curb set-up.

6. Why don't you just drive then? Driving is expensive. Some people can either not afford to drive a car for every endeavor, live in areas not designed for cars, or just don't need them. Recently I drove my friend to a fair in my home county, when she got into the car I had to apologize for all the dust that had collected on the top of my dash. I had to explain to her that I don't really use the car anymore. I live in Center Square, Shop Rite delivers, and I bike to work. Complaining about bicycles being on the road is just an expression of laziness, and impatience. If I'm going to get hit, it's not because a driver didn't see me, it's because that driver wasn't paying attention.

It's also illegal in Saratoga Springs to ride on the sidewalks.

I have a LOT of opinions about this, mostly due to my sometimes driver/cyclist/pedestrian habits. Long story short, don't be a jerk, and assume everyone is trying to kill you.

Also, bikes are vehicles not pedestrians. :)

That's about as un-rant as I can make it... :D

I bike on the sidewalk daily. It only took getting hit by some idiot driver once before I said *#%& it and started biking exclusively on the sidewalk. Here's a really easy thing to make bikes on the sidewalk not seem scary: realize most of us are more aware of our surroundings then the pedestrian with their face in their smartphone. We see you, we don't want to hit you as much as you don't want to get hit.

If I'm coming up behind you and you're the kind of person who walks in the middle of the sidewalk unaware of your surroundings, I'm going to go onto a lawn, the strip of grass between the walkway and road, or even onto the road itself to avoid you. I'm not going to hit you, grow up.
If I'm approaching from the front, walking on one side or the other gives me plenty of room to pass you without incident.

Another word of warning about sidewalks: it might be used against you. Should anything happen to you, especially when switching from one sidewalk to another, be very prepared to forfeit benefits and/or lose a lawsuit if the other party produces a witness ready to testify you were riding illegally on the sidewalk.

That's not theoretical, I was run over by a car on Madison Av, and even though there was a nice pool of my blood on the goddamn road, the insurance company of the driver argued it had a witness who saw me on the sidewalk; the feasibility of it all still escapes me, but I had a witness of my own and they backed off. Adding a few cents to these two:
- nothing prepares you for the brutality of an impact with a car. This is going to hurt.
- stay conscious; if you still are, do your best to gather witnesses, phone numbers, and pictures of the scene and your injuries on the spot,
- get a lawyer of course. Not a week later, not two days later; as soon as you can put a finger on a phone.
- do not, at any point, think that your own insurance company is on your side. It is not.

If you want to pedal on the street with confidence, take a class with an instructor certified by the League of American Bicyclists. Instructors can be found here:

You may be surprised by what you don't know!

A couple of things -- the sidewalk is only safer for the cyclist if the cyclist is very slow, doesn't mind being bumped around by every crack and frost heave, and doesn't mind the challenge of nearly being run over by every car coming out of/going into a driveway. In fact, the sidewalk is in many cases one of the most dangerous places for a cyclist to be.

As for a bicycle holding up traffic: SO DOES EVERYTHING ELSE. The predominant attitude these days is "me first, screw everybody else."

@Anthony -- I break very few traffic rules or posted signs, but as someone who bike commutes the other way over the Dunn (in the day, thank goodness), I always said that I would gladly comply with the "walk your bike" signs -- as soon as there was a similar requirement that drivers get out and push their vehicles.

As an avid cyclist for both commuting and exercise, I whole-heartedly agree that cyclists often seek refuge on the sidewalks when particular roads don't feel safe (sometimes on Delaware Ave's "bike lane," for instance). I can also back up the claim that I, as a cyclist, want to hit you FAR LESS than you want to get hit by me.

It's also worth pointing out how riding a bike makes you so much more aware of how you act as a pedestrian. I'm now a stickler about walking on the right, crossing only at cross-walks and keeping my head on a swivel. It's too common to see someone walking down the street wearing their ear-buds or looking at their phone make a sudden left-turn and then jump back in horror after a bicycle has passed them on the left.

Bikes aren't cars and bikes aren't pedestrians, yet it seems everyone is always trying to shoe-horn them in to one of those two categories. If folks out there used even the slightest bit of common-sense and awareness then the three parties could coexist very fluidly.

Bicycles on sidewalks are a big no-no. The only times I find it acceptable is when it's a huge sidewalk. For example I find myself biking on the sidewalk in front of the federal courthouse on Broadway because it's like 15 feet wide. Sidewalks also have more garbage, more ridges in the concrete. It’s just a more uncomfortable ride.

But I understand the impulse. After the Delaware Ave re-paving, with the narrow roads and bike markings in the street, I realized the city has the insane notion that people are just going to ride their bikes in the middle of the street. There is no shoulder there at all. An network of separated bike lanes that can get you everywhere you need to go are the only way to get the normal person to ride. By “normal” person, I mean the people who aren’t Spandexed, or have some kind of death wish, or are only riding a bike because their driver’s license was revoked. And by “network” I mean none of this bike lanes starting, ending and starting again business.

I agree Copenhagen style bike paths would be perfect, and most cities would do well to start investing in them, but it took Copenhagen decades to get those built. Their car culture in the 60’s was as pervasive as ours was. The change actually started when people realized the absurdity of children on bicycles being hit by cars and decided they wanted to make their city a safer place. The car culture in America is so ingrained with cars being given every right on the roads, that when someone is hit by a car, the reaction isn’t “How can we stop this” but “Well, of course they got hit.“ I don’t know how we can overcome this narrow-mindedness.

I am a bike commuter. Riding on the sidewalk isn’t ideal for pedestrians OR for cyclists- the sidewalk is slower than the road and drivers crossing the sidewalk to go in and out of driveways/ parking lots are less likely to see cyclists than they are on the road.

That said, I don’t hold biking on sidewalks against wary/ inexperienced cyclists in areas without a lot of pedestrians. In places with a lot of pedestrians, it’s indisputably obnoxious. Luckily, in most of those areas locally, the roads are reasonably safe in my experience. In the downtown-ish areas of Albany, drivers are forced to go fairly slowly and tend to accommodate bicyclists pretty well. It’s somewhat counterintuitive… when I first started commuting I was most worried about biking on narrow streets with parked cars, but the traffic calming this provides makes them much safer than wider roads (such as Delaware Ave through Delmar… through Albany it’s fine, though often annoyingly slow). My point: sidewalk bicyclists, give the road a try, especially in high pedestrian areas! I suspect you will be pleasantly surprised at how much better it is than you fear.

Also, I’ve heard great things about the “Traffic Skills 101” bicycling class. Definitely take it for tips/ gaining experience in riding in traffic. Riding further into the road, rather than hugging the shoulder, is usually the safest bet, for example. Oh, and get a rear view mirror.

Rant time: the reason this is happening is not because cyclists are inconsiderate/ stupid/ etc. It is because traffic laws and local infrastructure do not adequately account for or accommodate cyclists. Motorized vehicles are prioritized inappropriately, often criminally.

I will confess to occasionally hopping on a sidewalk for a block or two to get around traffic/ road closures or to avoid crossing four lanes of traffic when I’m going to need to re-cross them again almost immediately to make a left turn. I ride slowly in that case, barely above walking pace if pedestrians are present. But yeah, I should avoid it, just as drivers should avoid going above 55 on 787.

Anthony, above makes a good point in his #2 on the list. He installed a bell as a warning for pedestrians ahead. The notion that a bicyclist needs to provide notice to walkers ahead is disappearing. When I moved to Albany about 13 years ago, almost all the cyclists on the Bike Path by the river & 787 would say "Left" or "Right" to let you know that they are coming. Now hardly anyone does that, either on that bike path or anywhere else. I had a couple near collisions lately because I could not hear the bike until the last minute, and quickly moved to the wrong side to let them by. Yikes!

I think it comes down to being a courteous person. I live in Scotia and like to bike over to Schenectady. The Western Gateway Bridge is heavily trafficed, frequently sped over, and has been under construction for over a year. I don't feel comfortable riding in the street there so I ride on the pedestrian walkway. When I see a pedestrian coming either way, I jump off my bike and walk it. When we both need to pass in a narrow space, I try to get as far over as I can and stand and wait for the pedestrian to pass. They seem to appreciate it. Sure it slows down my trip but the walkway is designed for them. I try to treat it like I am a guest in their home. Most people won't say anything negative to you when you are obviously making an effort to avoid inconveniencing them.

Biking on sidewalks is unsafe. Biking on roads *feels* unsafe, but is actually safer. Much like SUVs vs. compact cars. You are actually safer in a smaller vehicle but you feel safer in a larger one, a psychological factor that has been exploited by the car industry for many years. The reason: a large vehicle cannot drive as defensively as a smaller one. Defensive behavior wins the day, something that statistics and most peoples common sense will verify.

The bike question is one that safety studies have been tossing around for a long time, and out of this question developed the practice of vehicular cycling, which basically says that to be as safe as possible, your bike should act like a car. That is also what state and local laws push for. I recommend any of John Forester's books on the subject, he is the pioneer of this conception. And as a daily bike commuter who has biked in dozens of cities all across the country, I see that it works. It is a standard practice on the west coast. Where I once lived.

The reason vehicular cycling works is simple - cars can't see you coming if you are on a sidewalk. Bikes on the sidewalk are faster than pedestrians and also do not act like pedestrians. Predictable behavior and the ability to ride defensively are the two things that bikes can do in the streets that they cannot do on sidewalks.

I live on a side street between Washington and Central. Those two roads are incredibly bike-unfriendly, and I see a lot of bike traffic on my street because it makes sense.

As a most-times pedestrian, sometimes driver, I loathe bikes on the sidewalks, but I can forgive them on major roads that simply don't accommodate bikes (Central Ave, I'm looking right at you). That said, I cannot abide by people biking down the sidewalk on my side road, one-way, narrow sidewalked street. Even worse is the entitlement that they belong there more than I do.

I see similar entitlement from cyclists on the sidewalk in regards to pedestrians as I do cars in regards to bikes on the street. It's a situation that can only be resolved by invoking a little courtesy. If you're on a low-trafficked street, ride in the street. If you're on a highly-trafficked street and need to ride on the sidewalk, try to remember that people on foot are also in a hurry and trying to get to their destination.

We all need to remember that we all have to share the roads and we're all trying to get from point A to point B. It just seems like Albany has the mentality of "whoever can do the most damage gets the right of way" and that needs to stop.

Have you ever ridden a bike in the city of Albany?! Sometimes it is necessary to jump onto the side walk even if for a brief second or for a few block because there isn't a safe place to ride in the road.

On a related note, does anyone know if the wide sidewalk on Hackett for both walking and biking? Because cars will RUN YOU DOWN if you are in the road.

i walk daily on the Delaware Ave corridor and am hit by a bike almost daily. I do not text or listen to an ipod while walking, I a pretty aware of my surroundings, but am often walking with one or more young children and they are pretty distracting. I do not cyclists of any age on the sidewalks considering how terrible Cap Region drivers are and how little enforcement of traffic laws there is in our area. I get it, cyclists feel safer on the sidewalk. The problem is that many of the cyclists treat the side walk as a road and go fast and do not watch out for walkers. I would say half the time the cyclists are careful and respectful of pedestrians, and the other half are dangerous jerks. I guess I should be glad those guys are biking rather than behind the wheel of the car, but I had a friend knocked over by a bike on the sidewalk and a little kid also get mowed down and banged up by a jerk cyclist. At least the cars are in the road and I know to expect them to not be paying attention, but it is ridiculous that I have had to teach my kids to look both ways before getting onto the SIDEWALK when exiting our house or any of the businesses on Delaware Ave. Wish we could get the community police officers to give informational tickets to sidewalk cyclists for a few weeks and then crack down with real tickets--in addition to actually giving tickets for all the drivers who text while driving through Del Ave intersections.

I agree that bikes on sidewalks are on the rise and that the riders are very careless and assume that they have right of way. Additionally, bikers ride against traffic, do up the wrong way on one way streets, and generally appear where least expected. This is very dangerous to walkers and drivers and to the bike riders. Albany is the only place I have lived where bicyclists ride on the sidewalks. There are some who do stay in the street and do follow the proper and legal rules for driver safety, but most do not. Recently, I witnessed a bicyclist knock over a pedestrian from behind. Very bad form.

Bikes on the sidewalk are not ideal, but I understand why a cyclist may sometimes feel safer on the sidewalk. With that said, courtesy is important. I hate being snuck up on by a bicycle, and feel it whiz past me while I'm walking. If I'm on a bike path or sidewalk and I'm about to pass a pedestrian, I say 'on your left' so they know what to expect. I also nod or say good morning to pedestrians I pass on the bike path. We are sharing the same space; a little courtesy goes a long way!

The only way to improve the viability of cycling as a mode of transportation is to make everybody used to the idea of cycling as a mode of transportation. If more cyclists ride on the streets, drivers will become used to driving safely along with them, pedestrians will become used to looking both ways for both cars and bicycles, and eventually the mass of cyclists that forms will convince policymakers that investment in better facilities for cyclists is necessary for the safest and most efficient transportation network.

Cyclists throwing in the towel on their own potential as a group and riding on the sidewalk only works to undermine their case.

(Source: I'm a professional transportation planner)

Riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is not prohibited by New York statutes but some municipalities have passed ordinances prohibiting bicycle traffic on certain sidewalks and have posted signs indicating this where appropriate. The sidewalk should be reserved for pedestrians. Bicycles on sidewalks can create conflicts with pedestrians and motorists who do not expect to see bicyclists on sidewalks, especially when approaching intersections. Local ordinances generally make exceptions for very young bicyclists. While it is not encouraged or legal in many municipalities, if a bicyclist feels the road is too narrow or the conditions are so that they do not feel comfortable or safe riding in the roadway, the bicyclist should use the sidewalk. If a sidewalk is crowded with pedestrians and a bicyclist does not feel comforting riding in the roadway they should dismount and walk their bicycle. Bicyclists are always required to yield to pedestrians and should use due care when approaching or passing a pedestrian on the sidewalk or road shoulder.

The full Vehicle & Traffic Law as it pertains to bicyclists can be found at:
The NYSDOT has a FAQ page on their website that addresses NYS laws and safety recommendations:
The Timesunion Bike Blog addressed bicycling safety and laws in April 2011:

Additional safety information, guidelines, and resources can be found at Capital Coexist is a bicycle safety campaign that was launched in 2010 by the Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC). The CDTC Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force is a very active group that deals with issues ranging from public education to facility planning. They meet the second Tuesday of every month (see the Capital Coexist Events Calendar) and all meetings are open to the public. To request Capital Coexist materials or more information please contact Jennifer at jceponis AT cdtcmpo DOT org.

I've been told the 8 MPH speed limit in the Albany City Code can't be enforced because it's superseded by State V&T Law which regulates bicycles as vehicles.

I regularly commute by bike from Center Square to the UAlbany campus. I bike between 10-25 mph, and get to work in about 20 minutes. (I had no idea about that ridiculous 8 mph law!)

It's a lovely way to get to work. I get my day's exercise, some fresh air, and I clear my head on the way to work. My commute is often the best of my day.

I never bike on the sidewalk. It's bumpy and slow and the pedestrians get skittish. That said, I understand why a lot of inexperienced cyclists do this. (This includes most of the cops on bikes who patrol Lark St.). Cycling infrastructure in Albany barely exists. It's true that cyclists can ply the roads relatively safely without bike lanes. But bike lanes provide the new cyclist with the feeling of safety. And without that feeling, they are going to ride on the sidewalk.

Blow through red lights and stop signs directly into crossing traffic! Doesn't matter, you're a cyclist and APD doesn't enforce laws pertaining to you.

Fly down the sidewalk on the wrong side of the street at 20mph past blind driveway entrances! Doesn't matter, you're a cyclist and if you get hit, it will automatically be the driver's fault. (Make sure to give all motorists the evil eye to show your superiority.)

Bike directly into oncoming traffic on Central Ave with the excuse that you're 'crossing the street' at a pace of one lane per block. Doesn't matter, you're a cyclist and all other forms of transportation must bow to your whims.

Switch between riding on the road and sidewalk at every intersection just to keep those motorists on their toes. Also, be sure to weave through pedestrians on the sidewalk, forcing them into the grass if they'd like to avoid getting bruised. If they are constantly harassed and enraged by you, maybe they'll be forced to create a network of bike lanes that you can ignore.

Obviously, I find it easier to be snarky about this topic than to write a decent argument for/against bikes on the sidewalk. This is because I'm beginning to think it's not Albany that's 'not bike friendly', it's cyclists who can't play well with others, ruining it for the cyclists who follow the rules. The only way I can see the situation improving in Albany is if the current laws are actually enforced, tickets are issued, and the horrible existing habits are slowly corrected. Bike licenses (and safety classes just like the ones for beginning drivers) are something that makes sense to me, but no one seems to like. Requiring a license to ride in the city is seen as 'unfriendly' toward bikers when in the long run it would go a long way to improve cyclist-motorist interaction...

Bike riders should start paying for a license.
My sister had her car door smashed into by a bike rider.
He did not want her to call the police, then swore at her,and rode away after doing $200 sorth of damage to her car!
No i do not want Madison Ave to change to two lanes.
This is not a country road.
Our hard earned taxes should not go into a road change.
We will be hearing car horns, loud stereos, and smelling gas fumes! Furthermore it will be hard to pull in,and out of parking spots, and for retail stores to get deliveries.
My solution would be cameras at the intersections, lowering the speed limit, and maybe a speed bump.
Most accidents are by speeding motorists, talking on cell phones, and texting.

J the wide sidewalks on Hackett are multi-use and bikes are okay there.

It would be more risky/dangerous for me as a bike rider to ride on the road than it would be for me as a pedestrian on the sidewalk with bikes going by.

As someone who doesn't handle physical pain that well (I'm a giant wuss), a car running into me is far more scary & deadly than a bike running into me.

It was when I encountered an Albany bike-riding cop on the sidewalk along New Scotland that I threw my hands up and sold my bike.

@Mggs -- I'm one of those who generally no longer calls out "on your left." Here's why: 80% of the time, the walker can't hear me -- headphones, iphone, whatever. If he or she can hear me, most people seem to interpret that as "jump to your left immediately, where I'm trying to get around you." The bell on my commuting bike ENSURES the person will jump into my path. They're startled, and make the exact wrong choice. (I don't know why this is hard, but apparently it is.) So my rule is if the person seems to be walking in a straight line, not wavering all over the path, I'll try to pass safely and politely.

@LB -- Yeah, me too. The bike cops frequently run on the sidewalks, the wrong way up one way streets, etc. So it gives me no hope that they're going to pull aside an idiot bicyclist who's running the wrong way up State Street at 5 o'clock, causing chaos.

I have a lot of pent up anger on this one so thanks for providing a forum.


Thanks again.

Driving down 4th Ave in Lansingburgh. Had a lovely bike rider on a street behind me. I came to a stop sign, had my left turn signal on, and he passed me on the left as I was just turning left. Almost wish I hit the bike rider.(not really, but you wish something could teach him a lesson) Don't bike riders have to stop at every stop sign if they're riding on the street and if they're on the sidewalk, have to stop at every stop walk and technically wait for the Crossing signal?

@mike, yeah, cyclists have to stop at stop signs and red lights...just like motorists around here do.... seriously though, yeah, they should have stopped.

@carl, totally agree on the signalling pedestrians; usually more harm than good. i try to slow down and make my presence known, but all else equal, it's usually safer to just pass without giving notice.

Sidewalks are for walking. If you need to get on the sidewalk to feel comfortable, then you should be getting off the bike. I know I break that rule occasionally and I know that some streets are just insane to ride on, but if you're in sidewalk traffic on a bike, it's time to join the crowd and walk for a stretch. Cyclists riding curb-to-curb at crosswalks scare the s*** out of me as a driver. There are exceptions to every rule, but the rule is bikes are vehicles, so lets operate them as such.

To me, a bike cop on patrol might be a different situation; heck, you see cop cars on the bike paths as well.

They call them sideWALKs for a reason.

First, it really comes down to this: streets and roads are public property. They belong to everyone. In addition to the safety factors, obnoxious driving - or riding - is like loud, obnoxious behavior in a park or library. It ruins it for everyone.

Second, quite a bit of research has been done on sidewalk bicycling, and they all agree: bicyclists riding on sidewalks are more likely to be hit by a car than those riding on streets. Two to four times more likely.

To be safe in traffic on a bike, you have to be seen. If you're on a sidewalk, you probably won't be. People driving into and out of side roads and driveways don't expect someone to be moving at bicycle speeds on the sidewalk.

Kids under the age of 10 or so are the exception. They don't yet have the visual or mental abilities to judge car speeds or distances, and should not be in traffic unsupervised.

So, as they say (but don't always practice) in Texas, "Drive friendly!"

It's about the CULTURE. Pro-environment culture means respect for bicycles.

Allow me to expand: I was shocked by the number of bikes in LA where cars are the only method of transportation. The traffic is terrible. There are lights at every corner. Bikes are faster than driving since a 1.5 mile commute takes 30 minutes in a car. About half of the bikers I saw were NOT wearing helmets. I was informed that many smart, educated, aware humans do not wear helmets 1)because they're on their way to work and don't want sweaty helmet hair and 2)because they feel safe on the road without one. Now, i'm not advocating for no helmets, but it's important to note that the culture in the LA area is so bike friendly, that people do not feel they need helmets. PS There are no bike lanes. So I repeat, it's about the CULTURE. Pro-environment culture means respect for bicycles. The end.

full disclosure: i have a car, i live in center square, i ride my bike for fun. i don't speed, i cruise. i ride the opposite direction on quiet one ways so i always know how much space i have btwn me and the car. i also ride on sidewalks, and happily ride on the grass to avoid upcoming pedestrians. there are many foolish, unaware people driving, biking and walking. i try not to be one of them, and i try to avoid them.


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