3 Reasons to Not Bicycle on the Sidewalk

For most people who bicycle to work, riding on the sidewalk is an occasional necessity; but it should be the exception rather than the rule. In today’s post I give three reasons to not ride on the sidewalk (and two reasons why you should).

A bicycle on the sidewalk

When I was a child, I biked as a child, but when I became a man, I started riding in the street.
Photo by Richo.Fan.

I have a friend who insists on riding on the sidewalk. He is convinced that doing this is just safer; he has been hit by cars twice.

Risks of Riding a Bicycle on the Sidewalk

Risk #1: Getting hit by a car
There was a bumpersticker that was already old even when I was growing up: If you don’t like the way I drive, stay off the sidewalk. I doubt that it was ever funny, but the more I ride, the more I realize it’s true. Every car drives on the sidewalk from time to time because sidewalks are so often found between the roads (where people drive) and the stores, homes, and offices (where people park).

A button with a not pithy truthI think this close relationship between parking and sidewalks is particularly dangerous. When people are just getting into their cars, they are not fully engaged: they are putting on their seat belts, adjusting their mirrors, inserting their tasty beverage into their cup holder, etc. And they are doing all this just at the time they are most likely to encounter the sidewalk.

To the driver, the sidewalk crossing a driveway is part of the driveway. Cars don’t stop at the edge of the sidewalk because drivers are not expecting traffic there. Cars stop (if at all) at roads because that is where a driver expects to encounter other cars. Remember too that drivers often cross sidewalks in reverse and can’t see very well.

Stay away from sidewalks…there are just to many cars there.

Risk #2: Hitting a pedestrian
One of the reasons I bike to work is because it limits the amount of damage I can do. Sidewalks can be full of people walking, playing, eating, and generally being oblivious to their surroundings. If you hit a pedestrian at high speed you can seriously hurt them, and the chances of accidents are pretty high:

  • Pedestrians are unpredictable: they don’t walk in straight lines, they don’t pay attention, and they travel in herds. If you come up behind a pedestrian and call “on your left,” they will inevitably jump left.
  • Sidewalks are generally narrow: there is not a lot of room to maneuver.
  • You can get sued. If you hit and injure a pedestrian on the sidewalk you can (and probably deserve) to be sued.

Whenever I ride on the sidewalk, I make it a rule not to ride faster than I could travel on foot (running). I don’t know that this makes a lot of sense, but it makes me feel safer around pedestrians.

Risk #3: Getting a ticket
In many jurisdictions, it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk. Check with your local bike shop, bike collective, or police department to find out for sure.

Reasons to Bicycle on the Sidewalk

Reason #1: It is occasionally safer
If you need to travel from Point A to Point B and part of that journey is on a narrow street with no shoulder or with a dangerous bike lane (these do exist), you might consider riding on the sidewalk. Keep in mind the three risks above. The same is true for roads where the bike lane is blocked by construction, double parked vehicles, or trash.

Reason #2: It is significantly more convenient or fun
Yeah, fun. I occasionally find myself on a road that leads to a light that experience has taught me does not  change. When this happens, I ride through the pedestrian plaza by the library for convenience and for pleasure–it is a nice spot (sometimes I even slalom through the lampposts). When you are in control of your commute, it should be enjoyable.

Question: Why do you (or don’t you) ride on the sidewalk? Enter you answer in the comments below.

  • Mr. Common Sense

    I ride on the sidewalk because biking on the road is fucking stupid for so many reasons.

    • http://kwinpeterson.com/ Kwin Peterson

      I’ve provided three good reasons against and two weak reasons for. Please feel free to share any reasons, but I’d appreciate civil language.

      • Seachai Chan

        And your three reasons you provided before that are weak and ignorant.

        1) Getting hit by a car – No, there are no cars going on the side walk. Cars are always passing by on the streets.

        2) Hitting a pedestrian – It’s the same rule we can say that if car drivers don’t concentrate or focus when they’re driving, they will run into other cars and people crossing the streets too. Bicycles should be exceptional vehicles since they are easy to control. They run a the lowest speed rate ever compared to cars and trucks.

        Also, I can go on about this for many reasons why number 2 is the stupidest rule I’ve ever heard in my life of why people shouldn’t bike on side walks, but I will just leave that alone for now.

        3) Getting a ticket – I’d rather have cops give summons to people not wearing helmets and elbow pads instead of biking on the sidewalk. Because if you get hit as a bicyclist or something, you are still protecting yourself with them individually and preventing less injuries for yourself. But to avoid injuries like that, it only takes common sense to not run into people, therefore, bicyclists should use both the side walk and roads to their advantage for safety biking.

        I don’t understand why you need to write a page of article on defending the stupid law that was brought in by Obama and Bloomberg or whoever created it. This law deserves to be ripped up into pieces and rewritten again by someone who has logic and common sense.

        Don’t even get me started on the film industry in Hollywood. There are so many stupid things going on in this world that people don’t even realize and it’s very sad.

        • Peter

          1) Were you not paying attention? Cars cross the sidewalk, therefore they are ON the sidewalk. Often they are idling across the sidewalk while waiting for traffic to clear in order to merge. At this point the cyclist on the sidewalk has to move in front of or behind the car to continue.

          2) Besides pedestrians wandering willy-nilly down the sidewalk (as is their right) there are also people stepping out of shops, from behind shrubs, opening doors, walking abreast, walking their dogs, and completely unaware with headphones or while talking on their phone. This is why I avoid sidewalks. Car drivers are more predictable.

          3) Again you are missing the point that pedestrians act unpredictably. I slow waaaaay down around people on bike paths for this very reason. It’s also why I avoid bike paths around and in parks; I have to crawl my way around the walkers.

          Finally, who ever mentioned Obama or Bloomberg? What a strange comment. The bicycle/road/sidewalk laws are many decades old. Hollywood? What?

          • FakeGenius

            Jesus Christ…

            1) Cars cross sidewalk only when they need to get parked somewhere. But in terms of where cars usually run at every day, they run on the STREETS. The only times when cars come through pedestrian roads are very rare, only in circumstances where they need to go through something. You’re truly dumb if you’re treating cars like people cause they cross in different routes 99% of the time.

            2) What does that have to do with biking on the sidewalk? You’re being a naive hypocrite right now. Do you see shops and houses built in the streets??! Car accidents happen every day just as much as bike collisions do. But the difference is that the breaks on a bike make it a minor problem for cyclists since it isn’t a car going over 10 MPH at speed per rate. Seriously, stuff like this is easy to figure out. Bike on a side walk only when there aren’t a lot of people, and bike on the street when you don’t notice that much cars, because it isn’t ALWAYS safe to be biking on the road aka street. And if you’re crossing the streets with your legs and feet, just WATCH where you are going.

            3) Good, so slow down then. At least you know when it’s right to bike slowly and not.

            Don’t need to educate orphans any more on this subject of matter. It’s not Einstein math that requires a quantum supporter to figure stuff like this out.

          • stayonthesidewalk

            Getting hit by a car can kill you, running into a pedestrian might cause some bumps a bruises but at least you’ll still be alive.

          • safesidewalkscanada

            From a blog on the Globe and Mail website, Canada: Thank-you for speaking out. I walk, ride a bicycle, and drive a car, although I do the former and the latter more frequently. Toronto’s cyclists are the most self-serving, over represented, coddled special interest group in the city. As a pedestrian who walks 30 km ± a week, the number of near misses with irresponsible cyclists irreverently occupying the sidewalks (illegally – the maximum legal wheel size on a sidewalk is 21″) has reached a boiling point. The Toronto Police refuse to act; there is no bylaw requiring signaling, bells, and otherwise responsible behaviour on the part of cyclists. The honeymoon is over, we pedestrians are fed up, and trust me, there are a lot more of us. So get off the sidewalks; two pedestrians were killed last year by cyclists in the GTA – doesn’t that say something?

      • stayonthesidewalk

        How many cyclists have died on the road from getting hit by a car in the history of man kind? Hundreds of thousands?

        How many pedestrians on the sidewalk have been hit and killed by a bicycle in the history of mankind? 1? Zero?

        • safesidewalkscanada

          From the National Post in Canada :A cyclist has been charged for a hit-and-run that resulted in the death of a Mississauga senior earlier this month.

          Police allege that Michael Kowal, 52, was riding his mountain bike on the sidewalk on Burnhamthorpe Road West near Central Parkway West on June 12 when he struck 71-year-old Shui Fen Chan. The impact left her with a serious brain injury, Const. Thomas Ruttan said. Mr. Kowal allegedly took off (a bike and a baseball cap were found nearby) leaving a passerby called for help. Ms. Chan later died in surgery.

          Mr. Kowal was arrested Tuesday and charged with failure to stop at the scene of an accident causing death and taken to a Brampton courthouse for a bail hearing. If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

      • safesidewalkscanada

        From the Globe and Mail in Canada :Toronto police considering charges for cyclist who fatally struck pedestrian

        Timothy Appleby

        The Globe and Mail

        Last updated Thursday, Sep. 06 2012, 10:43 AM EDT

        The bike lane on Jarvis St. in Toronto photographed on Oct. 6, 2010. (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

        Five weeks after an elderly Toronto pedestrian was fatally struck by a cyclist in the north end of the city, police are renewing appeals for witnesses to step forward, with a view to laying possible criminal charges.

        Nobu Okamoto, 74, was hit by a 33-year-old cyclist on Finch Avenue West, near Sentinel Road west of Keele Street, on Aug. 4.

        Mr. Okamoto had been walking east on the sidewalk at around 10:15 a.m., heading for his local bank, when he was knocked to the ground by the cyclist, who was biking westward along the same sidewalk.

        The cyclist, whose name was not released, remained at the scene and was later fined, police said.

        The fine for cycling on the sidewalk in North York is $3.75. As in most jurisdictions, small bicycles with a wheel diameter of 61 centimetres or less are allowed; adult-sized bikes are not.

        Mr. Okamoto sustained head injuries, cuts and scrapes to the right side of his body and died a week later in Toronto Western Hospital.

        It was the city’s second serious cyclist/pedestrian accident within a few weeks – in July, a woman walking in Chinatown was badly hurt by a cyclist travelling the wrong way on a one-way street – and both incidents stirred debate about whether the laws that apply to cyclists are too lenient.

        In most situations, errant cyclists can be fined a maximum of $400 under the Highway Traffic Act, even when death or injury occurs.

        Drivers of motorized vehicles, by contrast, can be charged under the Criminal Code with a wide range of offences and face far stiffer penalties, including jail.

        But in any circumstances, negligence that results in death or serious injury can be prosecuted under the code, and in this instance one possible charge against the cyclist – described by police as remorseful – would be criminal negligence causing death.

        “Anybody who saw the incident, we would like to speak to them,” police spokesman Tony Vella said.

        Mr. Okamoto’s death refuelled the long-running argument about whether more bike lanes are needed in the city.

        It also underscored how different bylaws apply to different parts of the city, 10 years after amalgamation. Had the accident happened in downtown Toronto, the ticket handed to the cyclist would have been $90.

        In the meantime, “I urge people to ride their bicycles on the roadway, not on the sidewalk,” Constable Vella said.

        “You do not want to endanger your life, nor someone else’s.”

  • Kiwii

    In my opinion it feels much safer on the sidewalk. Riding on the street feels much more risky because there are some people that just don’t pay attention on the road or get really impatient and attempt to go around you. Plus someone could just push you over or pull you in their car and kidnap you (believe it or not it happens) …or some sicko would just feel like hitting or bumping someone. I always prefer go against traffic.

    Something to remember when riding on the sidewalk is to just pay attention to your surroundings and look ahead AND around your path to avoid getting hit by cars coming out. You cannot expect them to just stop for you. You have to make sure that they see you, EYE CONTACT it important. Stop if they aren’t looking at you. And no earphones of course. It’s always important to listen to everything around you.

    If there’s people in your way, get their attention by saying LOUDLY “Excuse me, bike coming through”. That’ll get their attention and they’d be less confused than “On your left/right”.

    I ride a 30 some minute commute to my school everyday. My school is 4.8 miles away from my house and my route has a lot of traffic. Sadly, there’s no bike lanes. :

    Stay safe everyone.

    • http://kwinpeterson.com/ Kwin Peterson

      You should NEVER ride against traffic. It is both illegal and incredibly dangerous.

  • Jonesy

    A bike is a vehicle. Pedestrians on pedestrian thoroughfares DO NOT have to watch out for vehicles any more than cars on a freeway have to watch out for pedestrians. The word “dangerous” is a verbal attempt to create an objective reality out of the subjective state of what one personally fears. Get in a motor vehicle if you have fear of the roadway or get on your feet if you want to use the pedestrian thoroughfare. Riding bikes on sidewalks is for bullies and cheats. What sidewalk cyclists really need to fear is the piece of rebar someone is going to insert in your spokes as you brush by them on a pedestrian walkway..

    • jay

      u dont have to brush them off if u are respectful though lol , use common sense

    • Peter Bodenham

      You are a retarded chav! If you actually know how to ride a bike properly you can pass pedestrians simply without causing the slightest bit of bother!

    • safesidewalkscanada

      From the Toronto Star – Toronto, Canada :Cyclists travelling through the North York neighbourhood where Nobu Okamoto, 74, was run down by a bicycle are defending their choice to use the sidewalk, just days after he died from his injuries.
      On Thursday afternoon, a Star reporter witnessed at least 10 cyclists on Finch Ave. W., near Sentinel Rd., fail to comply with the bylaw that prohibits riding on sidewalks on vehicles with wheels larger than 61 centimetres in diameter.
      Okamoto’s family insists that bikes have no place on the sidewalk, but local cyclists say they have no choice due to narrow roads and fast cars.
      Khemraj Ganga rides his bike on the Finch Ave. W. sidewalk on a regular basis to get to work as a security guard.
      “Nobody’s going to make me ride on the road. If I can’t ride here, I’ll stop riding because it is not safe for me,” he said.
      Ganga, 55, claims he is a safe cyclist, especially when pedestrians are near.
      “When I’m close to pedestrians, I come to a complete stop. No pedestrian is going to tell me I’m going to hit them. They’re going to walk into my bicycle. I’m not going to hit them, though.”
      Another cyclist — who declined to give his name — cited poor road conditions and cars travelling up to 80 km/h as the reasons he rides on pedestrian walkways.
      When informed of the $3.75 fine associated with the bylaw, the cyclist shot back saying: “There’s a certain size (of wheels) that you’re technically not supposed to ride on. This size is okay.”
      With the number of cyclists using the sidewalk, some local residents have become accustomed to looking over their shoulder.
      Cory Sampson, 17, who lives in the same apartment building as Okamoto did, is often caught off-guard by cyclists who whiz by with no warning.
      “They just expect (pedestrians) to know that they’re coming. I always have to be on the lookout for something that comes up behind me,” he said.
      A bike lane was installed several years ago on Sentinel Rd. as part of the original 2001 Toronto Bike Plan. However, local cyclists say a bike lane down Finch Ave. W. would have been more useful for accessing services and stores at Jane St. and Finch Ave. W.
      With the recent death of Okamoto, Councillor Shelley Carroll said the bylaws need to be reviewed because they were originally geared toward accommodating children cyclists living in a “car-oriented” area like North York.
      “It’s time — with the ever-increasing number of cyclists on the road — for (cyclists) to start to keep in mind that . . . they control the speed like everyone else,” she said.
      “Speed kills, whatever vehicle you’re on.”

    • safesidewalkscanada

      From an email to Toronto City Council : There is a rising swell of people, the silent majority, who are fed up with being manipulated by politicians pandering to the cycling lobby, as if they were the only citizens of the city.

      We are fed up, and politicians had better take note, or they will find themselves looking for new employment. If they want voter respect, then they should get out of their bubbles, and stop catering to special interest groups. 

  • A guy

    Don’t ride on sidewalks, there might be cars there. Ride in the road instead! Where drivers are never distracted, and are constantly watching out for you!…

    At least on a sidewalk, cyclists have the opportunity to pay attention and avoid a collision. I acknowledge that drivers might not always pay attention when crossing a driveway, but anyone riding a bike should have the common sense to look out for themselves and not cross a driveway without checking for cars. In any case, a bike and a vehicle colliding at ~10mph isn’t nearly as devastating as a bike colliding with a car going 50mph. Same logic applies to pedestrians on the sidewalk. If a cyclist collides with a pedestrian, they both walk away. They might have some scraped shins and feel very embarrassed, but they’ll both walk away. You won’t walk away from being hit by a speeding car.

    And that video clip demonstrated a completely unrealistic situation. Where’s the line of backed-up traffic behind those two cyclists? Where’s the part showing all the impatient drivers taking unnecessary risks to pass those two cyclists? Don’t tell me every driver in the world is just going to sit back and calmly go 12mph…

    Bikes are NOT vehicles in the same sense that a car is a vehicle. One goes 5-20mph and weighs 50 pounds, the other goes 25-60 mph and weighs thousands of pounds. Those two things should interact with each other as infrequently as possible.

    • http://kwinpeterson.com/ Kwin Peterson

      I appreciate your phrasing the irony, but the point is cars on the road are looking out for other vehicles (and a bicycle is a vehicle even though it has nothing in common with a car) while on the sidewalk cars are not looking for anything.

      Your comment made me think of another reason not to ride on the sidewalk: it is much slower. I ride for transportation and can go so much faster on the road than on the sidewalk!

      The video clip may seem unrealistic, but I actually pulled off the road during my commute to shoot it.

      • A guy again

        I definitely agree that riding on the road would be faster for cyclists. My fear remains, though, that cyclists won’t be able to keep up with the flow of traffic. And some drivers are just reckless when they get impatient…

        I still think cyclists would be safer on sidewalks. At least there, they have the power to look out for themselves and avoid collisions, even if the motorists aren’t paying attention. And, personally, I would feel much safer being separate from speeding traffic and not having impatient drivers try to pass me.

        If drivers weren’t so consistently dangerous, I’d probably feel differently.

        Anyway, thanks for the response. And sorry for the sarcasm; sometimes I can’t help myself. =P

      • Seachai Chan

        Bicyclists and car drivers should use their eyes and brain to watch out for a possible crossover on the street. It should be everyone’s responsibility. Also, let’s not forget to mention that there are pedestrian grid lock lights that signal Go and Stop. If there wasn’t any reason to have something like that, they wouldn’t have been created by now. They created it for many reasons such as that. Once again, cars don’t operate on the side walk, they operate on the streets. The only time when something like that would happen is if stupid people run into each other due to texting or being drunk (stuff which you should never be doing any ways – they’re against the law).

        Also, what does riding on a transportation have to do with anything? We’re talking about biking over here, not riding taxis, buses, or trains. It depends on what kind of side walk and road you’re biking on. Side walks that have down hill slope will make your bike go faster and up hill slopes will make you ride your bike slower. Cars go faster than bikes on up hills because they’re cars and carry more gravity, weight, and speed than bicycles.

        Your comment in response to the guy justifies that there is a lack of natural logic in you.

  • AwesomeDay

    The sidewalk is dangerous because exactly as it says above, cars don’t expect traffic on the sidewalk. I got T-boned by a car coming out of a gas station because it didn’t expect me. Flew off the footpath onto the highway.

    • Why? It’s a fake name anyway

      Why would you not pay more attention..? Motorists might not be paying enough attention, but shouldn’t bicyclists have the common sense to look out for cars before crossing a driveway? I can’t imagine he was going so fast in the driveway that you couldn’t have seen him coming…

  • Kesington Washington

    is it illegal to ride on the sidewalk?

    • http://kwinpeterson.com/ Kwin Peterson

      In some places it is, others it’s not. Check with you local bike shop, they can probably tell you.

    • jay

      depends where u live

  • pro cyclist

    I ride on the sidewalk because I do not want to be anywhere near a car! are you crazy!? You know how many people text and drive? riding on the sidewalk is safe for me, I don’t really care about the pedestrians and I look before I cross a driveway.

    • jay

      agreed. i occasionally bike on the road. ill switch back and forth from sidewalk to road sometimes,……., but there is too many cars that get more close than im comfortable with for me to always bike on the road and as u said those who dont pay attention, …….. as long as we pay attention to pedestrians on the sidewalk this isnt a big issue as they are trying to make it, they act like we dont have common sense to bike on the sidewalk .

    • Harvey Pearson

      What if car drivers took the attitude of, “I don’t really care about the bicyclists….?!”

  • Glenn Bowers

    Biking on the road- It’s the Law in these parts! If it wasn’t I would definitely be on the sidewalk. Why: Car hitting bike=more pain and higher chance of death than bike hitting pedestrian. 2: Bikes are quite flexible, meaning say there are more than 1 person walking on a sidewalk, then you have 2 options:grass, or road..if the house in question doesn’t have a sign saying “stay off the grass”, the grass is a good option, and 3:as for more enjoyable..on the road your more worried about cars right next to you than actually enjoying yourself. I’ve had many times where if the car was just a couple inches more right, I’d get knocked and goodbye life. Let’s play-by-play same situation with pedestrian..i am right beside pedestrian and i shuffle right and it hits him…less object of getting creamed, takes more balance to handle bike and you’d likely take more damage,and if ur at the mid point, higher chance of not creating a huge accident than a big car. To me all motor vehicles should be on the road, all non-motor vehicles should have an option. Exception to that rule: Motorized Wheelchairs! Reason why not road, also is say we go to that situation where a car is getting too close..the bike wants to turn right also to not get hit, and there’s many areas where road to sidewalk are blocked off and if a bike hits that..noise-easy accident anyways. So many reasons why bikes SHOULD be on the sidewalk, bike paths if they are around (and easily visible).

    • grumpy pedestrian

      How about a word from a pedestrian? Who likes to walk on sidewalks with her dogs. I get yelled at “ON YOOUR LEEEEFT” when I already have 1 dog on the grass and 1 by the collar, almost on the grass myself. How the freak much room do you bikers need anyway? And what is up with that, cant the biker go in the grass for a change? I don’t think it’s a courtesy to shout on your left at people it is entitlement.

  • Michael Waters

    Mr. Common Sense may have used overly raw language, but he’s correct. It borders on insane to ride a fragile bike that can only achieve a fraction of the speeds of cars on the road meant for these two ton behemoths.

    I like to bicycle, but I stick to the sidewalks and have never had a problem.

    Riding a bike at 15 with cars doing 35 passing me constantly is daft in my modest opinion.

  • Cat hunter

    i should never have to alter my coarse and/or swerve into the on coming lane of traffic to avoid a cyclist, as far as i’m concerned i paid a lot of money to drive my car on that road, when i see plates and tabs hanging off the back of a bike ill share the road with you, until then get off the road.

    • Peter Bodenham

      The vast majority of us bikers don’t want to be biking it on the road with so many awful and just plain reckless drivers!

    • Peter

      As a cyclist I pay the same taxes for the same roads that you do, and by law am just as entitled to them as you are. Just because you are ignorant of the laws doesn’t put you in the right. Grow up, become a responsible citizen, and learn the laws. Furthermore, according to your logic, “i paid a lot of money to drive my car on that road,” whoever pays more for their car has a greater right to the road. Idiotic.

      • Cat hunter

        Funny I don’t see a licence plate hanging from the under side of the seat, I pay 500 a year for tabs, see the problem with the world is its filled with “entitled” pricks such as your self, but if you get hit by a car that’s in its own lane sure you will blame the car won’t you.

        • corners1

          Cat, your entitled mentality holds no logic. You’re a problem. I guarantee my car costs more than your car, and with that, I pay MORE road taxes than you do. By your logic, you should pull your car over every time I’m driving my car behind you. Get out of my WAY!!!! I PAY MORE TAXES!!!!

          • Cat hunter

            I doubt it

          • corners1

            You doubt you’ll pull over for my more expensive car? Typical hypocrite. Own up to your hiprocacy of get out of my way with your poor man’s car.

  • https://twitter.com/thechrisschmidt BeardMoney

    I hit a biker on the sidewalk today. Fortunately no one was seriously hurt, but your Risk #1 says it all. I was pulling out of a parking garage. I checked right and saw no pedestrians, pulled up and checked left, saw no pedestrians or cars. This meant I should have been good to go. I began to pull out onto the road when suddenly a biker flew in front of my car from the right. I slammed on the breaks but still bumped him off his bike. He got up and I asked him if he was okay. He muttered something about being scraped and picked a piece of debris up off the ground. I thought I’d broken his bike. He walked around to my window, handed me my license plate, hopped on his bike and sped away.

    My visibility was very limited coming out of this spot. I had enough room to see a short distance on either side and be confident no one was about to walk in front of me, but this kid was going fast and by the time I’d checked my left he was already coming in on my right, definitely not looking out for me. I will certainly exercise more caution in the future–I could have nosed out more slowly, but he shouldn’t have been–but I also hope he reconsiders using the sidewalk like a road. If he’d been biking at a leisurely speed or exercising caution, the sidewalk would have been fine, but this incident is a good lesson about why the sidewalk isn’t always safer.

    • http://kwinpeterson.com/ Kwin Peterson

      Thanks for sharing. I’m glad the outcome wasn’t worse.

    • Seachai Chan

      Because it’s up to the bicyclists to enact on the brakes that were created in the first place. If the brakes are working fine, then the brakes should be utilized to their advantage. Not every bicyclists bike quickly at cramped places. Most bicyclists know when it is appropriate to bike quickly and not. As long as neither you nor the bicyclist was hurt, every thing should be okay and minor, not major or controversial.

      Scroll up to my comment I posted in response to the author of the article, I clearly stated that bicyclists should use both the side walks and streets to their advantage in terms of seeing pedestrians and cars.

  • Allan

    I ride on the side walk because my God damn town doesn’t give me ANY room to ride on the road with, there are bike lanes, but there half the size they should be and only go for about five feet until they stop, and all a sudden there’s about 2 feet between me, a parked car, and than driving cars.

  • Redneck

    Hitting a pedestrian on the sidewalk with a bike VS hitting a cyclist with a car on the road…. There’s no comparison, regardless of the chances of being hit. Just ride on the bloody side-walk and quit wasting everyone’s time. I don’t pay for a vehicle to get caught up behind a douche-bag biker.

    No cop is going to give you a ticket for riding on the sidewalk.

  • http://kwinpeterson.com/ Kwin Peterson

    When I wrote this article I had no idea it would be the most commented one on the site, and I’m very surprised that so many people disagree with me and I get the impression that some commenters did not read the article.

    I’m open to opposing opinions…but in the last 9+ years I’ve ridden over 26,000 miles to and from work without incident. You are welcome to disagree with me, but unless your circumstances are very different than mine you’re probably wrong.

  • Peter Bodenham

    If you riding safely on a sidewalk, there should be no problems, its called being aware of yourself and others. If you are riding safe on a road, you are still in a lots of danger, even if you are aware of your surroundings. There’s more likely to be a fatality on the road rather than the sidewalk.

  • Nikki

    When I lived in New York I grew up riding bikes on the sidewalk. That’s what everyone did. Cops wouldn’t give us tickets. I never met anyone or heard of anyone dying from riding their bike. I’m sure there were a few…maybe…but I never knew. I moved to North Carolina and I hear about people on bikes dying or getting hospitalized every single week. So for someone to say riding a bike in the street is safer is just plain dumb. I don’t think anyone with common sense would even support this article. Not only that but I have witnessed and heard of more vehicle accidents here than in NY. So can anyone honestly say it’s safe.

  • Brad Remsen

    You are safer on the road. An internet search of cyclist sidewalk statistics will quickly result web-pages showing you why. Drivers are not expecting objects travelling at cyclist speeds in front of drive-ways, and at cross roads. So you are more likely to not be seen and therefore hit. Sidewalks are there for a reason – it’s in the word – walk. Cyclists were on roadways before cars were invented. If you feel it’s unsafe on the road because drivers are not watching for cyclists, then if more sidewalk cyclists rode on the road, then drivers would become more used to it. Perhaps it should be a Bicycle Week event that all cyclists stay off the sidewalk to increase awareness.

  • corners1

    I use both the sidewalk and the road to my advantage. I don’t really have a hard and fast rule for it, but I make my own logical choices. The issues with riding on the sidewalk come where there are multiple intersections crossing the sidewalk, be it from a driveway or a side road. For example, in one area I ride a 2.5 mile stretch. In that 2.5 mile stretch, there are only 7 side crossings to deal with on the sidewalk on the south side of the road. The road on that stretch has a 45 mph speed limit. That right there is an easy choice for me. Sidewalk it is. I only have to pause a bit 7 times in 2.5 miles to look for cars.

  • Admittedly New Biker

    I agree with this completely, and ride on the road as much as possible. Cars honk, but bugger them. The road is where I’m legally supposed to be, and the sidewalks are DANGEROUS. My occasional attempts to use sidewalks along particularly busy roads and/or when going very slowly up a hill almost always end in me barely dodging a giant branch and almost falling into the road, or nearly falling due to badly maintained pavement or insane curbs. I’ve been much closer to being hit by cars trying to use sidewalks than the road.

    Also, I’m starting to take a vindictive pleasure in annoying the honkers : D

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