Riding on sidewalks

Discussion in 'Commuting and Road Safety' started by Robert Gardner, Jan 10, 2004.

  1. Robert Gardner

    Robert Gardner New Member

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    The following letters appeared on the editorial pages of the LA Times on 10 Jan 2004
    Print

    COMMENTARY
    Bicycles Compete for Space
    COMMENTARY

    Re "Keep Speeding Bicycles Off the Sidewalks," letter, Jan. 2: Four years ago, I was riding on Rosecrans Avenue in Manhattan Beach and was hit by a bus (the Norwalk line) leased to another bus company from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. It was a hit and run. My bike was damaged and I was banged up but, amazingly, still alive. I assume the bus driver didn't know he sideswiped me, but you never know!

    Thank goodness I was as close to the curb as possible. From that moment on, I stay on the sidewalks as much as I can when I'm riding my mountain bike. I do give the pedestrians the right of way, by the way. Until the cities make the streets more bicycle-friendly with bike lanes safely separated from inattentive drivers (that'll be the day!), I'll take my chances with a possible fine.

    Brian Demonbreun

    Hawthorne



    *

    Demanding that all bicyclists on sidewalks be heavily fined ignores the fact that Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 56.15 rightly permits such riding, unless done with "willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property."

    Varying traffic densities, weather and lighting conditions determine whether street or sidewalk riding is safest, and I commend our city for authorizing both, as well as for supporting nonpolluting, nongas-guzzling human-powered vehicles by providing those indispensable "curb cuts." Rather than blaming cyclists for being forced to compete with either cars or people, why not work to make bike lanes commonplace so that bikers, drivers and pedestrians can all enjoy the safety assured by separate rights of way?

    David M. Dismore

    Los Angeles



    *

    As a person whose primary form of transportation is a bicycle, I would gladly stay in the street where "bikes belong" if the auto-arrogant public showed any semblance of respect or courtesy. There isn't a day that goes by in which bicyclists like myself are not subjected to hostile and dangerous behavior by increasingly frustrated drivers looking to vent their traffic demons. The main consideration here should be that a car is a deadly weapon. If I am being squeezed into oblivion by a road-hogging SUV, then cruising on a safer sidewalk could mean the difference between life and death.

    It's time for those in the driving public to wake up and realize that they do not have divine rights to the road. Try riding a bike on our city streets and see what real danger is.

    Peter Rhodes

    Burbank
     
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  2. bikinchris

    bikinchris New Member

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    The riders on the sidewalk qouted here do not realise that the very thing they are trying to avoid is actually MORE likely to happen to them, not less likely. On the sidewalk you are crossing traffic in the place the car driver is guaranteed not to look. If you place yourself properly on the street and know where to look for danger you have much more time to avoid or prevent a car-bike crash. Education for other sports is considered normal. Why is it that people don't consider a bicycling education?

    Chris
     
  3. tacomee

    tacomee New Member

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    I somewhat agree with bikinchris-- cars will turn into you if you ride on the sidewalk. Better to just ride in the street and make the bastards slow down than it is to get mowed down on the sidewalk by some 300lb slob in an SUV blasting into the donut store parking lot doing 35 without signaling

    On the other hand-- nobody really walks in most of LA anyway, so what harm could biking on the sidewalks really do?

    I ride in the street almost all the time, save for a couple of bridges where it's just too darn dangerous-- I ride on the sidewalk then.
     
  4. mrhawk166

    mrhawk166 New Member

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    I agree with Mr. Dismore that bicycle lanes should be more prevalent. In the area I live, great Irvine of Orange County, California, there is actually pretty good bicycle lane/multi-use trail coverage across the city.

    Whenever possible, I do stick to the bicycle lane/street lanes. However, I always stay off the sidewalks whenever I'm dressed in "cyclist" attire. I also try to be as courteous as possible, because I feel like I'm a representative, of sorts, of cyclists. I feel like I'd be giving myself and others a bad name by doing any less.

    When I happen to the sidewalk, I agree that yielding to pedestrians is a must. I also must add that I feel it is courteous (and proper) to dismount when on less-than-wide sidewalks around moms w/ strollers, and the elderly. (Would you want your baby potentially clipped?)
     
  5. swimmeronwheels

    swimmeronwheels New Member

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    I have been very careful to stay off sidewalks and as a motorist I get livid at the bikes that ride full speed into intersections from the sidewalks. No motorist is expecting anything quicker than a pedestrian darting off the sidewalk.

    Yesterday, though, I discovered a real sidewalk treat. With 2-3" of fresh snow, the streets were a salted sludge mess, but the sidewalks, shoveled or not were a real MTB treat. Up and down the blocks I went. I only saw one pedestrian, for whom I came to a complete stop letting them pass. Today we have another 3" and I'm trying to decide if that is just "too much" or not for another ride.

    The roads though are slick for a bike and in all that sludge I'd hate to go down with a car coming ... Without pedestrians, the sidewalks are nice and as long as I slow way down for intersections I may ride my bike somewhere. It's only 20° ... not too brutal at sidewalk snow speed (not alot of wind).
     
  6. jstraw

    jstraw New Member

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    Exactly...I cut slack for kids under about 10 riding on sidewalks. Adults have NO business using sidewalks as bike routes. You become a hazard to motorists, pedestrians and anyone exiting a shop doorway.

    I get so tired of cyclists whining about the behavior of motorists when so many cyclist refuse to use the public thoroughfares responsibly.
     
  7. tanyaq

    tanyaq New Member

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    Unfortunately while you may FEEL safer while riding on the sidewalk, unless you slow down to a pedestrian speed and/or stop at *every* place where the sidewalk intersects a roadway or driveway or other place traffic might turn, you are actually at a MUCH increased risk of an accident.

    Best way to avoid the sideswipe is not to give the illusion that there is room. If the lane is wide enough to share, that's fine, but if its not wide enough to safely share don't hug the curb and wait to get sideswiped by someone that *thinks* there is enough room. Ride far enough into the lane that they know they must change lanes or move over in order to pass.
     
  8. Robert Gardner

    Robert Gardner New Member

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    To supliment what tanyaq said: In 1980 Eugene A. Sloane wrote a book, "The All New Complete Book of Bicycling". In it he said that a bicyclist should absolutely stay off of streets with no parking. I thought that was strange till I rode home on such a street at quiting time when the motorists are the most irratable. I found out why. Such streets have narrow right lanes compared with other streets. I don't think it would have been safe to take over the whole lane at that time, and it was not safe to not take over the whole lane. There was no sidewalk or space to get off of the street.
     
  9. saturnsc2

    saturnsc2 New Member

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    we as bicyclists just cannot win! if i ride in the street, i get the idiots shouting at me, cutting me off, throwing things at me. if i ride on the sidewalk, i got to dodge idiots who are go arrogent to move aside, besides, most sidewalks are very bumpy & un-even & i'll be damned if i'm going to beat up my rims just because some idiots in their 4 wheeled steel coffins don't think we belong on the road! we just can't win!
     
  10. Don Shipp

    Don Shipp New Member

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    It is usually illegal to ride on the pavement (sidewalk) or other places intended for pedestrians. And, as other contributers to this thread have said, the risk of being hit by a motor vehical can be greater if you ride on the pavement but have to cross the road at junctions (intersections) than if you ride on the road. Also the pavement is in many ways unsuitable for a fast-moving vehical, whereas the road has been designed for it.
    However, some roads are so badly designed that there really is no room for cyclists and other traffic. These should be avoided, go another way.
     
  11. slgeo1

    slgeo1 New Member

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    I ride on minor roads but where I can't avoid a major road I take the footpath (a footpath is an Australian sidewalk). I've done this ever since a semi trailer went out of his way to try to run me off the road near my house and shouted that bikes don't belong on the road. It's just not worth the risk. On the footpath I do slow down for each intersection and I try to get back to smaller roads or roads with bike tracks as quickly as possible.
     
  12. cdat

    cdat New Member

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    I cheat here and there and use a sidewalk in spots. For the most part I obey the laws and use the streets but there are places that holding the lane will get you killed. I commute daily back and forth to work and I have a 50 foot stretch that has a bridge and railroad crossing, and if I rode in the street where the visibility is so limited, I would get creamed.
     
  13. TrekDedicated

    TrekDedicated New Member

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    Oh man, I never ride on sidewalks. I've done it probably about 3 times in my life.

    1) First time riding in the city
    2) When I was a little kid
    3) Had to passs cars in the street and hauled on the sidewalk (I don't recommend this) Even though I felt like a rebel.

    There is too much 'traffic' on the sidewalks. Unless you are going to die if you ride in the street, stay off the sidewalks.
     
  14. slgeo1

    slgeo1 New Member

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    Are we talking about the same sidewalks here? Sidewalks near the city get busy but in the suburbs you'd be lucky to see three pedestrians in the same day!

    -- Sarah


     
  15. HellonWheels

    HellonWheels New Member

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  16. burninrubber

    burninrubber New Member

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  17. cdat

    cdat New Member

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    Very sorry to hear about your dilema, I think you are right, sometimes it seems like you can't win. I live in Buffalo, NY, and my brother had his leg broken in a similar incident several years ago. The scene was almost identical- in his case the driver fled the scene and was caught by the police. My brother sued him and won, and got all his medical bills and lost wages paid by the driver, but he also took a lot of flack for being on the sidewalk. I believe that if the driver hadn't been stupid and fled, my brother wouldn't have gotten a thing because he was wrong for being on the sidewalk. My advice would be to consult an attorney and see what your rights are. It seems to me that a cyclists rights strongly depend on where you live,in some areas the police and legal system can be pretty unsympathtetic. Good Luck to you and bets wishes for a speedy recovery.
     
  18. nanook08

    nanook08 New Member

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    You are right, you just can't win. I've found that it doesn't matter where I ride, what roads, or what time of day, I always run into at least one moron on four wheels. But at the same time, riding on the sidewalks just isn't safe. And in most places it isn't even legal. But the key to getting respect as bikers is to be consistent and to follow the rules of the road. Stop at stop lights and signs, ride on the shoulder where you can, use hand signals to makes turns, etc... It always infuriates me when i see bikers blatantly disobeying the law, because it makes the road less safe for me. When cars get cut off, or a bike tears across the road in front of them, drivers get pissed and wonder why should I respect them, if the bikers clears have no respect for the laws of the road? And they are right! I refuse to ride with my bf unless he'll ride on the road with me. And I always get into arguments with an acquaintance who is a cop in Rochester and who refuses to follow the rules of the road. She's constantly swerving through traffic, cutting people off, and never signals to turn.

    If you want people to respect you, read up on traffic laws, follow the rules, be respectful to cars, don't flip them off or start yelling back, and do what you can to make people aware of your rights on the road.

    here's a clip that user vr40 posted that fits the topic perfectly.
    Here is a video clip http://easylink.playstream.com/katu...eaths_530pm.wvx
     
  19. cdat

    cdat New Member

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    Very well put. It seems to be a case of darned if you do, darned if you don't. For every one rider who does it right, there are two who do it wrong. Education would help everybody, in the past few weeks the close calls I had were because motorists didn't know or care what the hand signal meant. I indicated a left turn and had a car speed up and make a right turn in front of me, the excuse was that they thought I was waving them around. The logic of how waving them around me gave them the right to cut me off and turn in front of me escapes me, but the police thought it made sense, so they drove away without a citation. (They seemed more concerned with the shouting match that occured after the incident.)
     
  20. Ryanotokyo

    Ryanotokyo New Member

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    QLD just made it legal again not long ago. It's always been legal in Japan. That's the only way it can be. Where else can the kids and grannies ride? There will always be a few eeejuts and hoons. It's our job to give them an earful.
     
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