Bike Lanes and Sidewalks



e_space23

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Dec 10, 2003
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By law or in theory, riding on the street, whether in a bike lane or not, a cyclist has the same rights and must obey the same laws as a motorist. When you ride on a sidewalk, the cyclist has only the rights of a pedestrian. When riding on a sidewalk, when entering a street intersection, law requires that you dismount and cross the street as a pedestrian, a terrible inconvenience especially if you are commuting. In some cities riding on a sidewalk is illegal. Where there are people waiting for busses they usually block the sidewalk. Motorists coming from a side street or driveway will usually block the crossing. My experience is that streets have a personality. Motorists tend to follow a pattern in speed and behavior in certain areas and intersections. As a result, some streets are best to avoid completely during high traffic times. If a sidewalk or path is completely off-road and made for cycling, use it. However, non-cyclists will use these paths too and, as are many people, oblivious to what is happening around them and put themselves in danger and you as well. Pedestrians walking dogs, children, areas around schools, should be avoided.
 

jpr95

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Oct 11, 2010
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A couple weeks ago, I saw the sin to end all sins. I was driving through the Purdue University campus (fairly large student population).

I saw a girl:

-riding on the sidewalk, using...
-no hands, because...
-she was texting, while...
-crossing a street.

I was secretly hoping to see a Darwin Award nomination take place...
 

ax25nut

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Mar 28, 2011
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Moto700 wrote, in part:
"....driving the beltway around DC id where I learned to change lanes and reload at the same time."

My comment (after I stopped laughing):
I can see you actually WERE in the DC metro area. I was there from about 1989-'93....about the time something called "car-jacking" became popular, along with Monica and her famous foibles with some notorious (and best forgotten) womanizer. I've personally found DC taxi and bus drivers to be the worst drivers I've ever seen anywhere east of the Mississippi, as the ones I encountered never looked out for ANYONE before pulling out. I still agree though with those that avoid sidewalks whenever possible. Not always, but as much as possible. DC is also the first area where I saw perfectly great bikes "defiled" or "detailed" by dinging, taping, and hack-painting them to hide/disguise their true value.

Here in Ohio, we also have the same rights/responsibilities as any other "vehicle" when on the road or in a driving lane. In addition, it is illegal anywhere in the state of Ohio for any local municipality to REQUIRE one to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk. They may ALLOW or FORBID you to ride thereon, but cannot REQUIRE you to. In addition, bicycles are the only vehicles allowed to PARK on the sidewalk. I park on them, but prefer to avoid riding on them. This, of course, is not written in stone, regardless of what the "trolls" and other "nit-pickers" may say or think. I do whatever is needed to get where I'm going, as long as it's legal.

This summer, I took a ride from Lancaster, Ohio to Nelsonville, Ohio. The last seven miles from Logan to Nelsonville I had about a foot of lane to use, with semi-trucks roaring by at 50-60mph, and close enough to touch. This may rattle some folks while some others may think me insane for doing so, and they are entitled to their opinions. My brother avoids traffic areas/lanes whenever possible, but I've never had any problems. Fear of being hit will keep you from enjoying a nice ride, and I enjoy riding too much to be rattled by passing vehicles. Just be careful and obey the traffic laws. The jitters will likely pass soon enough, but only personal experience can confirm this, as some folks are just easily rattled.
 

todtown

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Jul 26, 2012
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This is an old thread, but I will comment in case someone googles the topic and finds their way here.

I've been riding a bicycle in Houston since I arrived here 30 years ago. I have only been struck once by a car and it was when I was on the sidewalk. I was on the right side of the road and the car was exiting a parking lot. They were looking in my general direction, but at the traffic, not at the sidewalk. The traffic cleared as I passed in front of the vehicle. I was knocked into the street.

It's scary to ride in the street, with the traffic at your back. No doubt about it. However, that is where you are the safest. When you are on the street you are more visible. And when you travel with the flow of traffic, motorist have more time to see you and plan accordingly. SO....ride safely. Wear a helmet. Stand up when the traffic gets dense so that you make yourself bigger and easier to see. And don't ride on the sidewalk, ride on the street with the flow of traffic.
 

Dave Cutter

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Jan 15, 2012
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Recently... I almost actually argued with a lady who had informed me it isn't safe to ride on the local streets... and explained that is why she and her children rode only on the sidewalks.

Safety is an odd concept. To some [like myself] it is somewhat mostly about statistical odds. But for many.... maybe most people... safe is a feeling. You can't convince people that don't "feel" safe... that they really are. Similarly, if someone feels safer in a certain place or mode of operation, than that is what is safe to them.... in their minds. Most people can not tell the difference between rational thought and emotional determination. In contemporary English... the use of the words "think" and "feel" have become interchangeable.

So when you try to explain to people that they can reduce their odds of injury or death by behaving in ways that are statistically safer.... you need really convincing numbers. Although I fully agree with your assessment that riding on the street is in almost all cases much safer than riding on the sidewalk. However.... I myself have no stats to prove that. I find it very difficult to make a mathematical argument.... without any supporting numbers. And it is just plain silly to ask people to distrust their own feelings... and trust MY feelings instead.

I wish we had better stats in regards to cycling. But we don't. And because cycling doesn't genuinely create an income stream to Government or insurance company's I don't expect to see better numbers in the near future ether. And I sure as hell hope the insurance and government people don't take a bigger interest in cycling.... or in taking more of my money.
 
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ambal

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Oct 15, 2010
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Its not even legal to ride on the sidewalk here, doesn't stop people though. A fool hit me from behind a few months ago, he lost some skin. The idiot would have been safer on the road that had very little traffic and a huge bicycle lane.
 

swampy1970

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Feb 3, 2008
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Originally Posted by alienator .

Ride on the sidewalk? No thanks. Cars are at least an order of magnitude more predictable than pedestrians are. Besides, the lane, which ever I take, is wider on the road than on a sidewalk.
You can't really say that if you ride in England. They have main roads that are about as wide as the side walks in some neighborhoods in NorCal.
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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swampy1970 said:
You can't really say that if you ride in England. They have main roads that are about as wide as the side walks in some neighborhoods in NorCal.
We have to be build wide sidewalks here because of wide Americans.
 

ax25nut

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Mar 28, 2011
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alienator wrote in part: "We have to be build wide sidewalks here because of wide Americans." My response: Baaahahaha!! You're such an @$$hole, man. Reminds me of some of those loveable "characters" I used to work with back in my union construction days, and entirely too funny! Tnx de 'nut
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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ax25nut said:
alienator wrote in part: "We have to be build wide sidewalks here because of wide Americans." My response: Baaahahaha!! You're such an @$$hole, man. Reminds me of some of those loveable "characters" I used to work with back in my union construction days, and entirely too funny! Tnx de 'nut
You don't think Americans are fat? Read the news, cupcake. Their fat, on average, and that's worth a joke or two.
 

CAMPYBOB

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Sep 12, 2005
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You don't think Americans are fat? Read the news, [COLOR= #ff0000]cupcake[/COLOR].

Irony. U haz it.

Their fat, on average, and that's worth a joke or two.

Whose fat?

The obesity rate on many of the polynesian isles is 90%+. We're only at 67%, just a bit worse than Germany at 66%.
But hey, we're number one! We're number one! Ok...number 3, behind (literally) Kiribati at 81.% and American Samoa at 93.5%. So let's all make some fat Samoan jokes!
 

nycbikerental

New Member
Apr 30, 2012
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I don't feel sidewalks are the best path for riding bicycle. Also Sidewalks are more dangerous than riding on the street.




Anyway thanks all for giving advice on same.

Nycbikerental
 

Dave Cutter

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Jan 15, 2012
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Originally Posted by CAMPYBOB .

..... So let's all make some fat Samoan jokes!
Wouldn't that be racist? And... if it would be... than would making fun of Americans be anti-American? How come we can't get those haters to just quit hating?

Come on alienator.... can't we all just get along.

But I did laugh. I think the paths and lanes are great... but a little over done. Some people just don't know when to say when [this isn't a joke about your drinking... alienator]. I just think we are at a point where we've [as tax payer] probability spent enough on a sport that is likely already in decline.
 

jpr95

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Oct 11, 2010
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Are you done eating? No, I'll have Samoa, please...

I'm here all night, folks...
 

Grant-53

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Sep 29, 2012
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At 250 lb I resemble that remark! As for Samoans just watch the reruns of "Biggest Loser" and yes, if you weight 350 lb the airline may charge you for two seats.
Here in NYS bikes are vehicles, along with inline skates, so are banned from the sidewalks. Route selection is critical so check map software that gives bike route directions.
 

Grant-53

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Sep 29, 2012
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In the novel "Dolphin Island" by Arthur C. Clark the character Nurse Tess was a large woman who had to leave her home on Tonga because all the "big" girls made fun of her.