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A visual of the driveway hazard (sidewalk riding cont…)

August 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Safety Demonstration

Driveway Hazard Of Sidewalk Riding by GarySe7en

The author has an associated article on his BLOG, titled: Coexistence 3: Bikes on the Sidewalk. In it he points to something I missed, that you may actually have less legal protection should you get in a crash when riding on a sidewalk. In a crash with a car, they’ll argue that you need to walk across a crossing. In a crash with a pedestrian, it favors the slowest.

Also, most sidewalk laws allow for children under 12 to ride on the sidewalk.

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Are you a sidewalk rider?

August 12, 2010 7 comments

(Updated August 14th: basic clean-up)

The number of people riding bikes in Traverse City is at an unofficial record high. This summer, the streets are rarely free of them and, unfortunately, the sidewalks also see a large number of them. It’s unfortunate because it signifies that our streets are not perceived safe enough for all users, despite the majority of streets being marked 25-mph or less.

(EXTRA: Going down to 20-MPH would help a lot.)

Bad News: The scene of a crash between a cyclist & a motorist at 8th & Boardman. The cyclist was on the sidewalk, crossing east with a green-light. The motorist was turning right onto 8th at a red light.

It’s also unfortunate, because the sidewalk is statistically the most dangerous place for people on bikes. Despite common-belief, motorists typically do not want to hurt you when you’re on a bike. If reactive motorists, the kind that yell “get on the sidewalk!” as they pass you by understood the issue, they would want you on the street. They might even start advocating for biking infrastructure.

A lot of the rage against cyclists is based on a fear of harming someone. Yet, our public spaces could be a lot safer if there was better understanding of why crashes typically happen and if motorists and cyclists both understood that bikes belong and how to share the road. Biking on the sidewalk adds to the problem between motorists/bicyclists, not to mention makes life for walkers and disabled pedestrians difficult.

In places, it’s breaking the law

I Bike Philly recently posted a list of reasons why sidewalk riding is often illegal. It comes down to visibility issues and the mixing of bikes with pedestrians.

I recently rode to Cadillac and was corrected almost instantly when I was riding on the sidewalk to get to the beach. The group I was with was trying to orientate ourselves and we were mainly coasting on an unobstructed sidewalk next to Lake Cadillac when a group of teenagers yelled from the water, “You can’t ride on the sidewalk. You’re going to get a ticket!

(NOTE: I didn’t find an outright ban in the city ordinances.)

Most of our model biking communities have strict no-bikes-sidewalks ordinances or cultures. In Portland, the Blue Guy may come after you for riding on the sidewalk. Chicago, is one of the models with a no bikes on sidewalk law. They also have a strong & developing bike plan. Chicago Bikes recently released the following lighthearted and well done instructional video explaining why the no bikes on sidewalk law.

Sidewalk Rider gets the Treatment in New York

In another approach, a friend shared with me an educational video of a different sort. Hint, don’t try biking on the sidewalk in New York. Whoa…. (Thanks Abby, video via Jeremy R.)

Sidewalk riding in Traverse City

Crazy people yelling at each other aside, Traverse City doesn’t have the pedestrian traffic to effectively socially discourage sidewalk use and some of our streets are seriously broken & incomplete. No bike plan yet exists to remedy that issue. It also isn’t illegal in Traverse City (downtown has restrictions) for cyclists to ride on the sidewalk, so we will have sidewalk riders for the foreseeable future.

If you do find yourself riding on the sidewalk, remember that you need to yield the right of way to walkers and let someone know if you go to pass, using a bell or a simple “passing”. The same rules apply to the TART trail. It’s not a bike trail, it’s a multi-use trail.

It’s encouraging to see the increased number of people using bikes, yet it’d be nice for us all to feel comfortable enough to use our crosstown bike route (Washington St., a slow neighborhood street) the way it is intended, on the street.

Try repeating this mantra when you’re in a dodgy section & need to take-up your lane:

  • Bikes Belong, I Belong.
  • Bikes Belong, I Belong.
  • Bikes Belong, I Belong.

There won’t be a segregated bike path everywhere you go, so we all need to know how to ride with traffic. Biking Toronto’s 10-part series is a good primer.

10 Secrets to Cycling with Traffic”:

  1. Drivers Don’t Want to Kill You
  2. Ride in a Straight Line
  3. Play by the Rules
  4. Avoid the “Stoplight Squeeze”
  5. Signal Sensibly
  6. Take That Lane
  7. Make Them THINK You’re Unpredictable
  8. Ride With Others
  9. Avoid the Right Hook
  10. Practice Your Route

* NOTE: These secrets are primarily for city riding, not exactly transferable to other cycling education programs that tend to focus on distance riding.

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