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  1. #526
    Senior Member rando's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrZhuKeeper View Post
    I don't see any trouble with riding on the sidewalk. Over here in the suburbs of CA, the majority of people ride on the sidewalk. In the city, it's different, most people ride on the road where there are traffic jams.

    I don't see any harm in riding on the sidewalk. I prefer to go 5-8 mph on the sidewalk, than going 15-20 mph on the road with cars zooming 35-50 mph past me and car doors suddenly opening on me. I say a combination of sidewalk and road is the best. I don't see how anyone could say riding on the sidewalk is dangerous.

    I've always thought that riding on the sidewalk is the safest choice. I still do. Going 5-8 mi/hr on a busy sidewalk don't seem dangerous to me --haven't gotten me into any trouble yet. I only go 15-20 mi/hr on a sidewalk when there's no one.
    this is true for me as well.
    "Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world". ~Grant Petersen

    Cyclists fare best when they recognize that there are times when acting vehicularly is not the best practice, and are flexible enough to do what is necessary as the situation warrants.--Me

  2. #527
    Senior Member John C. Ratliff's Avatar
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    Today, I spent some time on a sidewalk where the traffic stayed on the four lane roadway. That road had a lot of truck traffic, and when I took to the sidewalk I avoided having fully-loaded trucks pass me without a bike lane. It also put a row of mature trees between me and the roadway. Today, it is cloudy and sometimes raining, and there were no pedestrians at all on this stretch of the sidewalk.

    John
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  3. #528
    One Tough Cookie. Black Bud's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonQuixote1954 View Post
    If sidewalks are so dangerous,

    1- Why do they have pedestrians walk on them?

    2- Why don't they try to make our roads safer?
    Good questions.

    1.) Judging by the condition of a lot of sidewalks, they are not really all that safe for pedestrians either, but seem to be stuck where ever the 'powers that be' decide to squeeze them in and then "forget" to maintain them as well as they do the roads (which are not exactly Job #1 in the maintenance department either!).

    2.) It basically comes down to priorities: If the drivers don't complain loudly and often enough, the government does nothing about it. And even if the drivers DO make a fuss, the government often takes the money that should be going to maintaining the public roads and piss it away on some pork barrel project they will not fund otherwise. Or find another way to fund the other project(s), even at the risk of not being re-elected.

    As cyclists, if we get anything, it's usually sub-standard and uses the most hazardous design features for cyclists that can possibly be dredged up. Again, simple reasoning points out the problem: Traffic engineers, road designers and users (even cyclists) are usually drivers of motor vehicles and simply do not see the problems and outright safety hazards inherent in trying to provide "separate but equal" facilities for slow-moving vehicles, including bicycles. The fact is, short of demolishing every existing town and city and rebuilding from the ground up, there is simply no way to "re-jigger" the roadways to satisfy everyone in the available space to do it in.

    The viable options available, education and enforcement of traffic law on EVERYONE, might work IF they are applied as they should be. Guess what else does not happen and tends to backfire politically if it does?


    Quote Originally Posted by bsut View Post
    Sidewalks are designed for pedestrians, not cyclists. That's why they're hazardous for cyclists.

    That's the point - roads are safer for cyclists than sidewalks.
    Generally true on local roads unless there is a hazard that is blocking the road it and can be bypassed--carefully--on the sidewalk. If one is facing a limited-access highway? That might be a different story, but not always since many of those roads do have wide curb lanes and a predictable traffic pattern and an experienced rider can handle the situation; otherwise, the "sidewalk" is perhaps the best of a bad lot here too.

    All the rest of the time, the roads ARE usually safer if ridden properly, following the traffic law. After all, a bike is a vehicle and vehicles are expected on the roads, aren't they? Just keep in mind the old chestnut of "Watch out for the other guy." and be prepared for anything.
    A bad day on the bike is better than a good day at work!!

    My discussion board, another resource for the "utility" and commuter cyclist: "Two Wheeled Commuter: The Everyday Cyclist"

  4. #529
    Runner's Knees Dude Abides's Avatar
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    Sidewalks, when existent in my area, tend to be pretty empty. That's why I was initially drawn to them. However as my speed and agility increases I do favor the road...up to a point. Just to many internal combustions out there... Like Klinger tried to do in M*A*S*H we should eat them.

    Just abiding...

  5. #530
    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    I will ride on a sidewalk under exceptional conditions, but, as a matter of self discipline shift into granny gearing. That helps with my personal rule. "When you ride on a sidewalk, ride like a pedestrian."
    George
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  6. #531
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    From the city of Toronto (population 2.5 million) bylaws:

    The Toronto bylaw states that riding a bicycle with tire size over 61cm (24 inches) on sidewalks is prohibited, as is riding/operating a bicycle (or roller skates, in-line skates, skateboard, coaster, toy vehicle) on a sidewalk without due care and attention and reasonable consideration for others. The fine in downtown Toronto for not following this bylaw is $90 and aggressive cyclists can also be charged with careless driving.

    There are many hazards involved when cycling on the sidewalks. If a cyclist hits a pedestrian, the injuries can be severe. Seniors are especially vulnerable and can fall merely by being startled. Anyone with a visual or hearing impairment is at increased risk.

    Many cyclists ride on the sidewalk because they are afraid of cars. But choosing to ride on the sidewalk does not eliminate the risk of a car and bike collision. Cycling on the sidewalk is a contributing factor in 30 per cent of car and bike collisions. Collisions occur when cyclists ride off the sidewalk into the roadway or when motorists are exiting a laneway or driveway.

  7. #532
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    When I'm on my own, riding in our town (one of the biggest in Ireland) I do a combination of riding on the pavement and riding in the street. When I am on the pavement, I go really slowly and will often pickle along after slow-moving pedestrians. I tried the alternative, riding among traffic in a one-way section I otherwise have to go along to get into the town centre, and it was downright scary. This section requires rapid lane changes, among other things.

    When I am with my three kids, there is no way in heaven or hell I'm going to cycle on the road. I tried it once, wanting to abide by the law, and my little boy tried to stick too close to the kerb after Mommy stressed they should stay on the side of the road and practiced with them in our quiet neighbourhood, hit his pedal against it and fell right in front of a car. If it wasn't for the driver's quick stopping, he'd have been dead or seriously injured.

    When they are older and can understand these things better, I'll try again. My nerves are too shattered two years on from the incident to try again. Forget it.

    Cycle lanes here are often blocked by cars parked in them. I find that very frustrating.

  8. #533
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    I was smacked today by a pickup truck. He was doing the 'ol right on red as I was crossing the intersection. He never saw me yelling at him for I later found out he was DEAF. Yes. Deaf people can get drivers licenses. Bike's okay. I'm bruised up but okay. We exchanged information. Cop came by and I told him I'm fine. The guy was in tears,man.
    Sidewalks? No way. Never again.
    Earlier today I saw a biker on the sidewalk crossing a street. His light was red. An SUV had the green light. He passes him in front and the SUV slams on his breaks. And this rider was no kid. He was an adult.
    I guess it goes both ways sometimes.
    I'm just glad my bike and I are alright.

  9. #534
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Racingboo View Post
    When I'm on my own, riding in our town (one of the biggest in Ireland) I do a combination of riding on the pavement and riding in the street. When I am on the pavement, I go really slowly and will often pickle along after slow-moving pedestrians.
    It's the idiots who don't this and try to justify slaloming through peds at speed who cause the problems. I think perhaps traffic laws should allow cyclists to ride on pavements but enforce a speed limit of, say 8mph if pedestrians are in sight, subject to this being actually enforced, and the pavement not being a crowded one.

    When I am with my three kids, there is no way in heaven or hell I'm going to cycle on the road. I tried it once, wanting to abide by the law, and my little boy tried to stick too close to the kerb after Mommy stressed they should stay on the side of the road and practiced with them in our quiet neighbourhood, hit his pedal against it and fell right in front of a car. If it wasn't for the driver's quick stopping, he'd have been dead or seriously injured.
    I can't imagine how scary having kids ride on a busy road must be. I'm sure you're making the right decision, as long as your local laws permit it. (If they don't, I'd personally keep them off the pavements on and on safe roads only.)

  10. #535
    just a commuter
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    Quote Originally Posted by Racingboo
    When I am on the pavement, I go really slowly and will often pickle along after slow-moving pedestrians.
    Quote Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
    It's the idiots who don't this and try to justify slaloming through peds at speed who cause the problems. I think perhaps traffic laws should allow cyclists to ride on pavements but enforce a speed limit of, say 8mph if pedestrians are in sight, subject to this being actually enforced, and the pavement not being a crowded one.
    When I was in college (late 1970s) the main street through campus was posted "no bikes". There was a wide sidewalk paralleling the street, and of course everyone rode there. We had to ride slowly because the sidewalk was full of pedestrians too.

    One day I was riding along and a woman stepped out from behind a tall hedge into my path. I don't recall how far back the end of the hedge was from the sidewalk, but I didn't see her until I was hitting her.

    She was knocked to the ground. I flew over her and did a shoulder roll on the other side. My front wheel was destroyed. She was badly injured, lots of scrapes, and acting dazed and confused. Someone ran into the nearest building and called campus police for help. I stayed with her administering first aid until the ambulance arrived.

    A few weeks later I got a call from her lawyer. She was recovering from her concussion and other injuries (broken clavicle too I think) and wanted me to cough up for the cost. I pointed out I was just a college student so I had no money, and I was grinding through finals week so I had no time or patience to talk with her lawyer either. I never heard from her again.


    So your proposed scheme of riding slowly if peds in sight won't work. I was riding slowly because other peds were around, and she wasn't in sight behind the hedge, and still she was badly injured and my bike was damaged. The correct solution in this case would be to move the "no bikes" signs from the street to the sidewalk. Passing motorists can be inconvenienced as they pass through campus, because it's safer for both cyclists and pedestrians for cyclists to ride on the street.

    That was 30 years ago and the location looks pretty similar today: Two lanes of traffic in each direction, plus the sidewalk through campus. I don't know how it's signed now.
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  11. #536
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsut View Post
    So your proposed scheme of riding slowly if peds in sight won't work.
    It certainly won't make the pavements 100% safe. But the accident you described could have happened if you'd been riding through stopped traffic and the pedestrian had stepped from behind a van.

    Now I come to think of it, on a reasonably broad pavement you could have kept away from obstacles like that hedge, which isn't really an option when riding between stopped cars.

    But my position is much more "I condemn utterly riding fast on the pavement" than "I'm for people who ride slowly on the pavement." The thought of tolerating
    pavement riding is still new to me, but Racingboo made a good case and I'm trying to work out some method of coexistence - wide pavements only, speed limits, etc.

  12. #537
    just a commuter
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    Quote Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
    It certainly won't make the pavements 100% safe. But the accident you described could have happened if you'd been riding through stopped traffic and the pedestrian had stepped from behind a van.
    Yes, it could have. That's why I don't ride through stopped traffic - I wait my turn.

    Now I come to think of it, on a reasonably broad pavement you could have kept away from obstacles like that hedge, which isn't really an option when riding between stopped cars.
    That sidewalk is reasonably broad. I don't remember why I was riding in a position to make myself vulnerable to a pedestrian stepping from behind the hedge. I chalk it up to being young and stupid. You're right, stopped cars are too close together to give me choices of where to ride between them. That's why I don't ride through stopped traffic.

    But my position is much more "I condemn utterly riding fast on the pavement" than "I'm for people who ride slowly on the pavement." The thought of tolerating pavement riding is still new to me, but Racingboo made a good case and I'm trying to work out some method of coexistence - wide pavements only, speed limits, etc.
    You're describing traffic rules. They work fine on the roadway, because you're mixing similar participants (motorists and cyclists) under the same rules. But on a sidewalk/pavement you're trying to mix dissimilar participants (pedestrians and cyclists) which fundamentally can't work.
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  13. #538
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsut View Post
    Yes, it could have. That's why I don't ride through stopped traffic
    So if traffic is totally jammed, you don't move, even if there's a lane between cars, or cars and the pavement? You accept the delays that a car faces, and the lower speed while moving of a bike??? I believe you if you say you do, but if you live in a big city where this is really relevant, you're c-r-a-z-y. Walking would be faster. Probably even if you carried your bike.

    - I wait my turn.
    What "turn"? A jam isn't a queue, you're not taking the place a car driver deserves if you cycle forward through a gap it can't use. You just need to exercise more technique than you did with that hedge and look out for blind spots.

    You're describing traffic rules. They work fine on the roadway, because you're mixing similar participants (motorists and cyclists) under the same rules. But on a sidewalk/pavement you're trying to mix dissimilar participants (pedestrians and cyclists) which fundamentally can't work.
    Cars and cyclists are pretty damn dissimilar too. Dissimilar doesn't necessarily mean unsafe. Stopping distance and gaps are what matter; what makes a competently ridden slow moving bike on a broad uncrowded pavement a real hazard? What if the bike is moving at walking speed? I'm still not sure that I really support even very limited pavement cycling, but I don't trust the "dissimilar" argument. It's more rhetoric than physics.

  14. #539
    just a commuter
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsut
    I don't ride through stopped traffic
    Quote Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
    So if traffic is totally jammed, you don't move, even if there's a lane between cars, or cars and the pavement? You accept the delays that a car faces, and the lower speed while moving of a bike???
    Yes. I stand there in the queue, watching other cyclists ride forward between lanes or in the bike lane, often to the right of cars with their right turn signals flashing. Then I watch them artfully dodge right hooks, and negotiate again with drivers who have already passed them.

    Quote Originally Posted by meanwhile
    I believe you if you say you do, but if you live in a big city where this is really relevant, you're c-r-a-z-y. Walking would be faster. Probably even if you carried your bike.
    I ride mostly in the suburban sprawl of Silicon Valley, near San Jose California USA. Yes, we have congestion, but certainly not as bad as an urban environment.

    Quote Originally Posted by bsut
    - I wait my turn.
    Quote Originally Posted by meanwhile
    What "turn"? A jam isn't a queue, you're not taking the place a car driver deserves if you cycle forward through a gap it can't use. You just need to exercise more technique than you did with that hedge and look out for blind spots.
    Yes, I've learned a lot in those 30 years, about both technique and traffic. I'm content to trade my convenience for my safety.

    Quote Originally Posted by bsut
    You're describing traffic rules. They work fine on the roadway, because you're mixing similar participants (motorists and cyclists) under the same rules. But on a sidewalk/pavement you're trying to mix dissimilar participants (pedestrians and cyclists) which fundamentally can't work.
    Quote Originally Posted by meanwhile
    Cars and cyclists are pretty damn dissimilar too. Dissimilar doesn't necessarily mean unsafe. Stopping distance and gaps are what matter; what makes a competently ridden slow moving bike on a broad uncrowded pavement a real hazard? What if the bike is moving at walking speed? I'm still not sure that I really support even very limited pavement cycling, but I don't trust the "dissimilar" argument. It's more rhetoric than physics.
    Yes, cars and cyclists are very dissimilar - one is a manufactured object and one is a living being. That's why I described the human participants, who have similar abilities of perception and reaction, and whose vehicles have similar constraints of maneuverability. Pedestrians can stop and turn nearly instantaneously.

    I only rarely ride on a multi-use path or sidewalk, and when I do, it's a brief stretch, and I reduce my speed well below my preferred travel speed, even when I can't see any pedestrians nearby. I always feel more comfortable when I can get back out onto the roadway, where the traffic rules provide a common framework for interaction.
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  15. #540
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    it depends. i agree with all of the arguments but everyone's situation is different so what can i say?

  16. #541
    Vamos D.C. UNITED!!!! Trek_Rider_05's Avatar
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    Personally, I try to avoid "sidewalks" at all cost. "Sidewalks" are called such because they are for pedestrian foot traffic. Im lucky, I live in a fairly bike friendly area, and many motorists expect to see cyclists along some main roads, and most secondary roads. In fact, most roads have "one way bike lanes" on each side, as well as plenty of signs posted warning drivers that cyclists use that road as well. This is in part because part of the network of paths here are on streets, and in part because there are a large number of cyclists, and the popularity of cycling here.

    In my state, bicycles are in fact under state law, are considered vehicles, and are therefor part of traffic and are subject to the same laws as automobiles. Cyclists are to obey all traffic laws vehicles do, including signs and lights. Those same laws are also in affect on the "trails" as well, and there are signs on most trails around here directing people to stop, use slower speeds...etc. Many of the one way bike lanes here are wide enough, and the roads wide enough that you can usually safely ride just inside the white line, and still have plenty of clearance for opening car doors and such. Just today, I passed 3 parked cars with people in them, and they clearly saw me coming because they waited before I passed to exit their vehicles and/ or pull out.

    Most cyclists tend to stay off the sidewalks here, simply because there is just too much foot traffic to effectively get anywhere at any decent speed. We do however share our "paths / trails" with some foot traffic, and other assorted means of non motorised transportation. Most people are aware of others, and act accordingly. Cyclists are by law required to give an audible warning to any walker, cyclist, or other they come upon from behind. In kind, walkers are obliged to move to the side single file to allow cyclists to pass. For the most part, most people seem to get on just fine without incident. The paths / trails here are largely fairly wide, and very clearly devided down the middle with a dotted yellow line. Where passing is not permitted, the line turns to solid yellow, and there are sections where no passing is permitted for good reasons, and its mostly to do with no sight around corners or through narrow tunnels. We do have quite a few underground tunnels, some of which are rather long, and very curved. They are very well lighted, but that cannot allow someone to see much beyond 10-20 feet on some sharper curves.

    If I am, for some reason forced to use a sidewalk, ill either dismount and walk, or, if there is little to no pedestrian foot traffic, I will move along at 5 or so MPH. Cyclists who use the sidewalks, at least around here, do irk me, especially when the road is clearly marked with one way bike lanes. But what can I say, some things just irk me. Like dumbasses riding bikes with no lights at night. I almost hit one the other day because he was not visible at all, wearing all very dark clothes, no lights, not even reflectors, and it was a very dark stretch. It is illegal to ride at night here, with no lights AND reflectors. At minimum, a cyclist MUST have at least one white front "headlight" that is visible 600+ feet, as well as front and rear reflectors. If on a road with speed limits over 30, a cyclist must also have rear red lights visible at minimum the same distance.

    Anyway, I guess we might me more lucky here that we have far more cycle friendly places to ride / cycle friendly infrastructure. The need to take to sidewalks around here at least, is not very great, and that is a big advantage IMHO.
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  17. #542
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    Except in city downtowns, sidewalks are mostly barren territory in northern CA. Nevertheless I ride in the street when I can, usually on quiet side-streets. Even without bike lanes, quiet side-streets are safe.

    On busy streets with wide bike lanes, I use the bike lanes. But on streets with traffic zipping past at 45 mph or more and the bike lane simply disappears or slims down to a bike's width without warning, I use the sidewalk until I can get to a safe, quiet side-street or until a proper bike lane reappears.

    In most jurisdictions in CA it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk unless a posted sign specifically allows it. But any law that forces me into a busy street alongside fast-moving cars without the protection of a proper bike lane is an unjust law, and I would fight any citation issued to me if I used a sidewalk to avoid risking my life unnecessarily. All street-riding involves some risk, whether one is on the sidewalk or in the street protected by a nice bike lane. But I know when it's safe to ride in the street and when it isn't.

  18. #543
    Bicyclerider4life
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    The Florida Keys are the most dangerous place to ride a bicycle on the street - at least on US 1, which just happens to be the ONLY road in or out of the Keys. When available, I take the bike path and sidewalk, which in several places (Key Largo, Islamorada, Tavernier, and Marathon, among them) just happen to be the same thing. When the path and/or sidewalk is NOT available, I ride as far left on the shoulder as I can, and in the gravel or grass, so I do not get ran over. Yes, against traffic, where there is no path/sidewalk. I have a better chance of avoiding that idiot rubber necker drifting off the road when coming at me from the front that I do from behind. Also, from Islamorada to Marathon, the few section that have a path/sidewalk, it is on the side of the road heading out of the keys, so when going deeper into the Keys, I just stay on that side.

    As long as you watch the intersections, the sidewalk or path is much safer - at least in the Keys.
    "Whenever I see an adult riding a bicycle, I know there is hope for mankind." (H. G. Wells)

  19. #544
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bookman View Post
    Even without bike lanes, quiet side-streets are safe... I use the sidewalk until I can get to a safe, quiet side-street or until a proper bike lane reappears... a busy street alongside fast-moving cars without the protection of a proper bike lane [is]... risking my life... unnecessarily. All street-riding involves some risk, whether one is on the sidewalk or in the street protected by a nice bike lane.
    From these excerpts I infer you feel good when cycling in a bike lane, and you dislike using busy roads that don't have bike lanes, right?

    But I know when it's safe to ride in the street and when it isn't.
    To be more accurate, your statements show that you know when you feel good and when you don't. Your statements don't indicate whether you know about safety, which is an objective result of engineering and behavior that's independent of emotional comfort. Bike lanes provide a feeling of comfort (which you well noted) but no other benefit for cyclists, and they have a negative result on safety for cyclists (as well documented elsewhere).

    But this thread isn't about traffic engineering or even bike lanes, it's about riding on sidewalks.
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  20. #545
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    I feel good when it appears to the naked eye that cars whizzing past me at 45mph or more are a few feet off to my left. BTW, I hope some people here aren't saying one needs an engineering degree to know when a traffic situation is safe. I mean, if that were true we would all eventually get stuck at a blind intersection because none of us would know how to "proceed when safe."
    Last edited by Bookman; 06-27-08 at 02:44 PM.

  21. #546
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    good study.hoho

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  22. #547
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    Quote Originally Posted by John C. Ratliff View Post
    Every day I ride on my extended route, which is a vehicular cycling route, I get someone who either cuts me off, yells at me to get off the road (happened twice yesterday), or an auto does something it ought not do (pass too close, for instance).
    People here in the UK still complain about drivers, but they're so much better. I've been yelled at once, ever, by some teenagers - no one thinks a bike doesn't belong on the road, even on routes where I usually don't see another bike.

  23. #548
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonQuixote1954 View Post
    From John S. Allen, LAB Regional Director, New York/New England:

    "The evidence that bicycling on sidewalks and similar facilities is more hazardous than bicycling on streets is overwhelming."
    If sidewalks are so dangerous,

    1- Why do they have pedestrians walk on them?
    Dangerous for bikes isn't the same as danger for walkers, genius. A big problem is bikes popping out unexpectedly at intersections at speeds drivers aren't expecting.

    2- Why don't they try to make our roads safer?
    Who is "they"?

    By the way, coming here I had to ride on the sidewalks and back alleys of America. It's not a choice; it's a strategy for survival in the jungle.
    High score for embarrassingly bad and overwrought writing.
    Last edited by meanwhile; 06-28-08 at 12:42 PM.

  24. #549
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    People who make a big generalizing statement of "RIDING ON SIDEWALKS IS DANGEROUS" need to realize this is different everywhere.

    Where I live.. the suburbs, riding on the sidewalk is always the safe thing to do, due to lack of bike lanes.

    Experience also needs to be taken into account. Novice bikers will ALWAYS be safer on the sidewalk.

  25. #550
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    It's important when you ride on the sidewalk that you are going WITH THE FLOW OF TRAFFIC.
    Why?
    When a cager makes a right on red,where is he looking?
    If your on the sidewalk going not the flow of traffic and the walk signal is on and you go you will be on that driver's right side.
    He's looking left at on coming cars.
    He's turning right.
    He never sees you as he runs you over.
    This is what happened to me.
    Also when your riding on the sidewalk going with the flow of traffic you MUST STOP at every side street or make a HARD YIELD at cagers ready to make that right turn.
    I don't trust ANYONE driving two tons of steel that they are capable of preventing my death.
    At traffic lights I push that walk button then I situate myself between the right turn lane and the going straight lane. I'm still out of the cagers way and those that turn right can go right ahead and turn to their hearts desire.
    If you stay on the corner and that light turns green,HALF of them won't yield to you and will go right on making that right turn regardless that you have the right of way and the walk signal is on.

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