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  1. #76
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
    Personally I don't find such a relatively minor change in speed differential of any significance in either comfort or reduced risk in my daily cycling amongst 55+ mph motorists...
    I-Like-To-Bike, what are you doing cycling amongst 55+ mph. drivers? Didn't you say that was too dangerous?
    No worries

  2. #77
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
    Brian,

    If your experience tells you it is safer for you, then so it is and I do not question your impressions. But why do cars only need to slow down to 30mph when stuck behind a 17-20 mph cyclist? Is there much traffic on your road?

    Personally I don't find such a relatively minor change in speed differential of any significance in either comfort or reduced risk in my daily cycling amongst 55+ mph motorists; and I suspect that if there should be a mishap, the difference in severity effects of a 35mph vis-à-vis a 40mph speed differential collision for the cyclist (me) is likely to be insignificant.
    Well, the traffic varies. Sometimes there is a lot, sometimes nothing. When I am going 20 mph, I don't mind a car passing me at 30 mph. Actually, most of the time they pass at about 40 to 45 mph. It doesn't matter really. The point is that a car driver has less time to react before overtaking and they will tend to overtake a slow cyclists at a faster differential speed.

    BR
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  3. #78
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
    Well, the traffic varies. Sometimes there is a lot, sometimes nothing. When I am going 20 mph, I don't mind a car passing me at 30 mph. Actually, most of the time they pass at about 40 to 45 mph. It doesn't matter really. The point is that a car driver has less time to react before overtaking and they will tend to overtake a slow cyclists at a faster differential speed.
    Are you saying cars slow down significantly to pass a cyclist, even when they have a clear road/lane to get around you? On high speed roads? With motorists at full speed driving right behind them in all available lanes? Why? I would think that slowing down to 30mph in a passing lane on a busy 45-50mph road would be an exceptional bad driving practice and raise, not lower the possibility of accidents.

    Slowing down to pass certainly is not my experience on high speed roads. Cars and trucks travelling at 55+ mph, don't slow down one bit to pass if they do not need to. Cars maintain their speed, which is at least the speed limit, and only let off the throttle if they fail to get around me at full speed due to an inability to find a clear space in the passing lane. Often the motorists don't even attempt to pass ( or slow down when passing is not possible) until the last second, literally.

  4. #79
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    Clearly, I-Like-to-Bike doesn't like to bike in traffic, but many of us have learned the necessary skills, so we know it can be done safely--even in 55+ mph traffic in many places. Of course, there will always be a few places that are un-bikeable, but there are a lot fewer places than ILTB suspects.

    Now, back to the topic--sidewalk riding. ILTB engages Toolbox63's favorite argument technique. He argues that his opponent is wrong by always asking his opponent to provide even more evidence, without ever providing any evidence of his own.

  5. #80
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    My commute route includes both roads and an multiuse path (MUP), similar to a sidewalk. I find that I spend more time stopped and scanning for traffic at the MUP intersections than at stop signs on the road. I suspect it is one or two seconds stopped and scanning at each stop sign versus five or ten seconds at each MUP intersection. The MUP is a shortcut, so I still come out ahead. Sidewalks are usually narrower than MUPs and may have pedestrians. This reduces their utility even further.

    I think that one can ride safely on sideswalks/sidepaths. The problem is that there is, relative to road riding, a time and workload penalty associated with the extra traffic scanning that they require in order to be safe. Additionaly, one's may have to ride more slowly.

    Paul

  6. #81
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    If I have to be limited to riding my bike on some sidewalk at 8 mph, I'd rather walk. It would be a lot more fun, and I'd get a much better workout, too.
    No worries

  7. #82
    Immoderator KrisPistofferson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    If I have to be limited to riding my bike on some sidewalk at 8 mph, I'd rather walk. It would be a lot more fun, and I'd get a much better workout, too.
    VC proselytizer! Heretic! (Just kidding. Thought I'd beat I-Like-To-Bike to it!)
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  8. #83
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    My commute includes a street with a bike lane, a small stretch of congested, express-way bound/returning traffic, an industrial area, and a bike path in a park. I am heading East into the sunrise in the morning and West into the sunset in the evening. For most of the route, I am in the street, but there are times when I will use the sidewalk (this does slow me down, as I have to ride more slowly and use caution at driveway entrances/exits).

    I use the sidewalk for a small stretch, after a busy and congested intersection with traffic that has just exited the expressway. For some reason, they drive far more aggressively than vehicles on other streets. If I feel comfortable racing along with them in the street, I will, but if I'd rather take it easy, or because of parked cars, etc. I will use the sidewalk on this stretch. Using the sidewalk in this instance works better for me, since I am not always comfortable riding with the traffic in this area (as I gain experience, I imagine it will get easier for me to ride with this traffic, but I will always need to assess the situation at the time I am riding through). The other stretch of sidewalk I ride on is through the industrial area in the evening. I've ridden on the roadway here...it is a mess of glass, metal shards, bolts, etc. I discovered the sidewalk is so clean it is as if someone sweeps it daily. So, I slow down and ride on the sidewalk. In the morning, I am on the street on the opposite side, which doesn't seem to have the same mess of glass. The sidewalk on this side would be far more dangerous, since it is lined with rows of garages, driveways, etc. with semi-trailers, dump trucks, and other large machinery pulling in and out. I see so many bicycles going through here, so I imagine the truck drivers are accustomed to being alert, but I give them the benefit of the doubt. They are driving something that has more limitations on visibility and maneuverability than the average car. I use caution even on the street in this area.

    The bike lane section has the same hazards as any city street, and Bruce Rosar's avatar sums up what can be seen daily, bike lane or not, along any city street with parked cars. I ride closer to the traffic than to the parked cars, since I imagine the car approaching me from the rear is paying more attention to me than the driver ready to swing open their car door.

    And, my favorite bit of my travel is the bike path in the park in the morning. Mostly, it's just me and the lone jogger. In the evening, it can be a mess of park people who don't seem to know what to do when a cyclist is coming up behind them or even when they are walking towards one. Then, there are the groups which will walk three abreast and continue to walk abreast, as if the cyclist should be riding on the grass. As much as is said about educating motorists, educating pedestrians should also be a priority since I see their behavior as much more erratic. And, this is when I am riding in the street...many times they will cross, looking for cars and then stop suddenly, in front of me, like a deer in headlights.

    I will finish by saying that I was hit by a car about 10 years ago while exiting the sidewalk and entering an intersection, so I understand the hazards of sidewalk riding. They are not safer than the street. On the other hand, a few of my friends have been hit by cars while riding the street. Had they been riding differently they may have avoided an accident, but in all cases the driver of the car did something wrong, like run a red light. My approach to cycling is to be alert and aware of the situation and the potential hazards around me wherever I am, and the same approach should be used by those who drive cars.

  9. #84
    kwv
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    Quote Originally Posted by JRA
    My credentials are that I'm not an expert. I've referred many people to John S. Allen's writings but, when it comes to his views on sidewalk riding, he's full of it. It's too bad he accepts the party line and is unwilling to take a critical look at the evidence.
    What LittleBigMan put up to show the experience that John S Allen has and what you didn't put up who do you think people would believe?

    In other words haven't you discredit yourself by not telling us what experience you have?

    But then again no matter if there are a great deal of stats and facts people will still not believe what is put before them.
    Last edited by kwv; 05-03-05 at 08:58 AM.

  10. #85
    kwv
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewP
    I ride on sidewalks and in the wrong direction on one-way streets at times, but as I know this is more dangerous, I exercise much higher level of care.

    Why do you ride on sidewalks and in the wrong direction on one way streets at times if you know it is dangerous and illegal?

    And would you accept the blame if say you get fined?

  11. #86
    kwv
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    Quote Originally Posted by JRA
    The alledged "proof" of the dangers of sidewalk cycling is a joke.




    OK, let's all drive cars. Cycling is just too dangerous.




    OMG! 1.8 times. Is that the risk of death or simply the risk of an accident of any kind?




    Wow, what a revelation! And this is relevant how?


    Give me a frickin' break! Show me some evidence that sidewalk cycling is actually more dangerous than cycling on the road. The burden of proof is on those who claim sidewalk cycling is dangerous.

    They've been trying for years and haven't come up with diddly squat so far.

    I've always respected Mr. Allen but it's interesting that he is LAB Regional Director, New York/New England, and 'sidewalk riding is dangerous' is the LAB party line.

    If it weren't for the fact that some people actually believe the party line propaganda, it'd be laughable.

    Please show us evidence that sidewalk cycling is safer then riding on the roads and what experience you have in this area and then I might believe you.

  12. #87
    JRA
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    Many cyclists believe that sidewalk riding is dangerous without ever questioning it. It's sort of accepted on faith that evidence exists.

    The problem is, significant evidence doesn't exist. What few studies there are inconclusive at best. If you don't believe that, look at the research yourself. If you find some evidence you think is significant, post it so we all can see it.

    LittleBigMan posted, among other things, a quote from John S. Allen, whose qualifications I have said repeatedly, I do not question. I also do not question his motives.

    The quote, however, could easily be misunderstood, especially in the context of a thread about sidewalk riding.

    Let's take a look at what John S. Allen actually said, shall we?

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    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."
    John S. Allen's comments are about, "sidewalks and similar facilities" and this is key. He's not talking specifically about sidewalks. In fact, the quote is from a webpage that is mostly about sidepaths which, I assume, is what is meant by 'similar facilities'.

    There's a quote from John Forester regarding sidepaths: "The most dangerous type of bicycle facility known"... John Forester. I don't dispute that. In fact, I think it's probably true.

    But this thread isn't about sidepaths; it's about sidewalks. There's a big difference as I will, hopefully, explain.

    Allen barely mentions sidewalks on that page. What he says about sidewalks is: "Walking a bicycle in order to avoid challenging traffic conditions is sometimes appropriate, especially for children and novice bicyclists. Without sidepaths, bicyclists still have the option to ride slowly, or walk their bicycles, on sidewalks and to cross intersections as pedestrians if they wish to do so. However, riding in the street is much faster, and adult bicyclists do not put up with slower travel except under unusually difficult conditions.".
    Technical issues with sidewalks and sidepaths


    That is almost exactly my sentiments about sidewalk cycling. The quote above is from a paragraph under the heading, "Bicyclists do not belong on sidewalks". Allen's major argument against sidewalk riding is that it is inefficient, not that it's inherently dangerous.

    That's a good argument. Sidewalk cycling is pretty inefficient in most cases. But not always. I hardly ever ride on siewalks myself, but occasionally I do, at very slow speeds, usually because, in some situations, riding on the sidewalk is quicker, shorter and safer.

    Laws against riding on sidewalks concern me. Such laws are not about safety. They're anti-bike, plain and simple. They're the flip side of laws against riding on the road. Both kinds of laws reflect an attitude that bikes don't belong. I feel the other way. As I often say - a bicycle is a superior vehicle that can be ridden almost anywhere - that is, if we can keep legislators who don't know a thing about riding a bicycle from passing laws against it.

    The argument that sidewalk riding is inefficient is the best argument the VC-proponents have against it. They should stick to that argument because the other argument - that sidewalk riding is dangerous - is weak, and it damages their credibility when they make claims that aren't supported by the evidence.

    John Allen, unfortunately, makes little distinction between sidewalks and sidepaths. He lumps them together as virtually the same.

    But sidewalks and sidepaths are quite different.

    A comment by Allen hints at what the different might be: "When pedestrians share space with bicyclists, there are no reliable rules...

    That is one of the problems with sidepaths and, I might add, with multi-use paths.

    But it does not apply to sidewalks. The rules on a sidewalk are clear. A sidewalk is designed for pedestrians - hence the name. If an accident occurs on a sidewalk it is almost, by definition, the cyclist's fault. Cyclist know that and, by riding on a sidewalk, they accept that.

    The problem is not sidewalks, where the rules are clear, but sidepaths and multi-use trails, where there is a great deal of confusion as to what the rules are.
    Last edited by JRA; 05-06-05 at 10:24 PM.
    "It may even be that motoring is more healthful than not motoring; death rates were certainly higher in the pre-motoring age."- John Forester
    "Laws cannot be properly understood as if written in plain English..."- Forester defending obfuscation.
    "Motorist propaganda, continued for sixty years, is what has put cyclists on sidewalks." - Forester, sociologist in his own mind
    "'There are no rules of the road on MUPs.' -John Forester" - Helmet Head quoting 'The Great One'

  13. #88
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    I ride on the sidewalk onyl in 1 place during my commute. There is a street that is a long gradual hill, and metered parking on one side and 1 lane of traffic in each direction. The cars are always going 30 over teh speed limit and the metered parking is always full. In order to use the road, id need to "take the lane" in the one full lane of traffic and proceed up a long agonizing hill for about 2 minutes. On this 1/2 mile stretch i use the sidewalk. I think if I stayed on the raod id just be creatign a dangerosu situation

  14. #89
    Senior Member Bruce Rosar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JRA
    Many cyclists believe that sidewalk riding is dangerous ... The problem is, significant evidence doesn't exist.
    Steve Goodridge, Advocacy Officer for the N.C. Bicycle Club, has written
    In my own analysis of car-bike crashes in Cary, NC, I saw that about 94% of collisions were at driveways and intersections ... and that operation on the sidewalk correlated with a disproportionate share of these collisions. This compares well to other studies that show sidewalk cycling to greatly increase the risk of collisions at intersections. Also, collisions with dogs, pedestrians, and street furniture make the rate of non-motor-vehicle-related injuries much higher on sidewalks.
    Here's a more detailed explanation from Steve:

    I have conducted a typology and analysis of all police-reported car-bike collisions for the last six years here in Cary, NC, population 100,000.

    The Cary Police department provided me 75 Cary Police reports dated from March 7, 1997 to November 21, 2002. Of these 75 reports, 73 included enough information to determine the positions and directions of the vehicles during the collision. Note that many of these collisions involved injuries but none involved fatalities. I classified these 73 collisions by the following types, in order of frequency, which I believe are useful for understanding the problems and potential preventative measures. Note that a couple of these numbers may change slightly when further investigation is completed:

    WRONG WAY: 36 collisions (49%) involved bicyclists traveling on the left half of the highway against the ordinary flow of vehicular traffic. Nearly all of these bicyclists were operating on the sidewalk prior to the collision. 30 of these wrong-way bicyclists were struck by automobile drivers who were turning right onto the roadway from a stop sign, red light, or driveway. These drivers were probably looking to the left prior to the collision.

    RIDE OUT: 12 collisions (16%) involved bicyclists who rode out across the roadway or private vehicular area where the motor vehicle driver had the legal right of way and could not stop in time. Most of these collisions occurred at intersections or driveways.

    LEFT CROSS: 7 collisions (9.6%) involved motor vehicle drivers who turned left across the path of the cyclist (who was traveling in the correct direction for vehicular traffic, on the opposite side of the road from the oncoming motorist) and violated the cyclist's legal right of way.

    RIGHT HOOK: 5 collisions (6.8%) involved motor vehicle drivers who were traveling in the same direction as the bicyclist when the motor vehicle drivers turned right and collided with the bicyclist. Four of these bicyclists were operating on the roadway; one was operating on the sidewalk prior to the collision. One of the bicyclists on the roadway was attempting to overtake the automobile driver on the right. One of the motor vehicle drivers attempted to turn right from the left through lane immediately after passing the bicyclist who was using the right through lane.

    DRIVE OUT (PROPER DIRECTION CYCLIST): 5 collisions (6.8%) involved motor vehicle drivers who drove out across the roadway where the cyclist (who was operating in the correct direction for vehicular traffic on that side of the highway) had the legal right of way. Four of these bicyclists were operating on the roadway; one might have been on the sidewalk but the police report does not specify.

    PASSING TOO CLOSELY: 5 collisions (6.8 %) involved motor vehicle drivers who attempted to pass bicyclists at unsafe distance, resulting in collision. More on these collisions follows below.

    BICYCLIST LOSES CONTROL: One collision (1.4%) occurred when a cyclist lost control and crashed into the side of a motor vehicle that was stopped at a stop sign.

    BICYCLIST TURNS LEFT FROM CURB: One collision (1.4%) occurred when the cyclist attempted to turn left from the curb, suddenly and without looking backward, directly in front of a motor vehicle driver who was overtaking in the same direction.

    BICYCLIST TRAPPED BY SIGNAL: One collision (1.4%) occurred when a traffic signal changed before a bicyclist completed crossing an intersection.

    Given the public paranoia about overtaking-type collisions, and the scale of the engineering investments proposed or committed to their prevention, the 5 collisions involving motorists passing too closely deserve extra attention. Here are the details of these collisions:

    One overtaking collision occurred on a two-lane section of Davis Drive where a raised concrete median was installed. The pavement width between the raised concrete median and the drop to the soft shoulder is 11 feet. The travel lane striped within this space is 10 feet wide. (I made these measurements myself.) The driver of a motor vehicle towing a trailer sounded his horn at the bicyclist in the travel lane, and then attempted to squeeze past between the median and the bicyclist. The bicyclist slipped off the pavement as the tow vehicle squeezed past, then lost control on the soft shoulder/pavement edge and collided with the trailer as the driver moved to the right before the trailer had cleared the bicyclist.

    One overtaking collision occurred on a rural two-lane section of Carpenter Upchurch Road. The travel lanes in this section are striped 10 feet wide with two-foot paved shoulders. The total asphalt width is 24 feet. The driver of a motor vehicle towing a trailer attempted to pass on a right curve. The driver moved back to the right side of the roadway before the trailer had cleared the bicyclist. The trailer collided with the bicyclist.

    One overtaking collision occurred on a four-lane section of Kildaire Farm Road just south of W. Cornwall Road. The rightmost travel lane here is 11 feet wide. The driver of a van attempted to pass the bicyclist in the same narrow lane. The mirror of the van struck the bicyclist. The van left the scene without stopping.

    One overtaking collision occurred on S. Walker street, a two-lane 25 mph road that is 25 feet wide. The police report shows that the 10-year-old bicyclist was in the center of the roadway when the collision occured. Given the unusual location of the collision, the slow travel speed of the motorist, and the young age of the cyclist, it is possible that the cyclist made a movement that contributed to the collision, i.e. turning left into a driveway. More investigation is needed to determine the cause of the collision.

    One overtaking collision occurred on westbound Walnut Street just before the intersection with US/1 and Buck Jones Road. I have not yet measured the travel lane width at this location. The overtaking motorist "tapped the back tire" of the bicyclist shortly before making a right turn onto Buck Jones Road. More investigation is needed to determine the cause of the collision or contributing factors.

    Note that there is a high volume of cycling activity in Cary. I believe that this amounts to over one million miles per year of bicycle travel on Cary roadways. According to a transportation consultant who worked on the town's comprehensive transportation plan, about 80% of cycling transportation miles in Cary are traveled by "avid" road cyclists who operate on roadways in the correct direction of travel for vehicular traffic. The vast majority of "non-avid" cycling transprotation miles are also traveled in the correct direction for vehicular traffic and most also occur on the roadway.

    Given that wrong-way bicycle travel represents a very small percentage of the total number of bicycling miles, but represents about one half of the collisions, I believe that this breakdown of collisions illustrates the very high danger of wrong-way bicycle travel. Anyone traveling contra-flow on a vehicle, especially one capable of greater than walking speed, should be very cautious before moving in front of cross-street and driveway traffic. Operators of such vehicles should attempt to travel with the ordinary flow of vehicle traffic whenever possible. In general, the safest way to operate a vehicle in an urban area is according to the rules that apply to drivers of vehicles. Such operation maximizes one's visibility and predictability to other road users.

    Regards,
    Steven Goodridge
    North Carolina Coalition for Bicycle Driving
    http://humantransport.org/bicycledriving/
    Last edited by Bruce Rosar; 05-08-05 at 11:21 PM. Reason: highlight the word "sidewalk" in red

  15. #90
    Senior Member John C. Ratliff's Avatar
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    This post by Bruce gives us an interesting look at the statistics put forward by Steven Goodridge. But they really don't talk to the safety of sidewalk bicycle riding as much as he may believe. Let's look closely:

    WRONG WAY: 36 collisions (49%) involved bicyclists traveling on the left half of the highway against the ordinary flow of vehicular traffic. Nearly all of these bicyclists were operating on the sidewalk prior to the collision. 30 of these wrong-way bicyclists were struck by automobile drivers who were turning right onto the roadway from a stop sign, red light, or driveway. These drivers were probably looking to the left prior to the collision.
    First, there is no "wrong way," at least in Oregon, to be walking or bicycling on a sidewalk. It is not specified in any statute that I know of. Statistics show that bicycling against the traffic flow increases risk, but why is that? This quote gives us a clue. Thirty accidents involved drivers were turning right at a stop light, onto a roadway. That means that these accidents did not happen on the sidewalk, but on the road. The fact that these were bicyclists may or may not be relavant, as these drivers may have plowed down pedestrians had they been there too. The bicyclists were crossing a roadway on a crosswalk, not riding on the sidewalk, when struck.

    RIGHT HOOK: 5 collisions (6.8%) involved motor vehicle drivers who were traveling in the same direction as the bicyclist when the motor vehicle drivers turned right and collided with the bicyclist. Four of these bicyclists were operating on the roadway; one was operating on the sidewalk prior to the collision. One of the bicyclists on the roadway was attempting to overtake the automobile driver on the right. One of the motor vehicle drivers attempted to turn right from the left through lane immediately after passing the bicyclist who was using the right through lane.
    Please note that, for the infamous "right hook," four of the bicyclists were riding on the roadway when hit, one on a sidewalk. That would seem to indicate that for this kind of accident, riding on the road is more hazardous.

    DRIVE OUT (PROPER DIRECTION CYCLIST): 5 collisions (6.8%) involved motor vehicle drivers who drove out across the roadway where the cyclist (who was operating in the correct direction for vehicular traffic on that side of the highway) had the legal right of way. Four of these bicyclists were operating on the roadway; one might have been on the sidewalk but the police report does not specify.
    Again, four of the five bicyclists were on the roadway when hit by the "drive out" motorist. One may have been on a sidewalk, but that apparently is unknown.

    My conclusion from reading these stats is that sidewalk bicycling is less hazardous than bicycling on a roadway. Crossing roads is another matter, and bicyclists who ride on the crosswalk must be extra cautious (I understand that in some areas this is illegal, but here it is not).

    John
    John Ratliff

  16. #91
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John C. Ratliff
    . . .My conclusion from reading these stats is that sidewalk bicycling is less hazardous than bicycling on a roadway. Crossing roads is another matter, and bicyclists who ride on the crosswalk must be extra cautious (I understand that in some areas this is illegal, but here it is not). . . .
    Since sidewalk riding over any distance includes crossing streets, I think your emphasis is misleading. The more accurate description should be: Sidewalk riding is more dangerous than riding on roads as long as cyclists have to cross intersections.
    Last edited by Daily Commute; 05-08-05 at 10:18 AM.

  17. #92
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    I ride my bike all over the New Orleans westbank and a little on the eastbank, and I know what streets are good for biking on and what ones are bad, and where on those streets it is safest to bike. Sometimes the sidewalk is the safest location, sometimes it's the shoulder of the road, and sometimes it's the road itself. There's no blanket rule for where to ride (as far as safety goes, anyway) because all streets are designed differently.

    The north shoulder is the safest location on Fourth St, the streets are the safest location in the French Quarter, the sidewalks are the safest location on Ames, etc. I can present evidence to anybody familiar with these streets about why one location is safer than another for any particular street in the city. That means more to me than "180%" or "4.5 times".

  18. #93
    Senior Member Bruce Rosar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John C. Ratliff
    My conclusion from reading these stats is that sidewalk bicycling is less hazardous than bicycling on a roadway.
    Warnings About Sidewalk Bicycle Facilities
    Below are excerpts from official and professional sources that warn against mandating or encouraging sidewalk bicycle operation.
    The excerpt below is from Selecting Roadway Design Treatments to Accommodate Bicycles, US Dept. of Transportation Publication No. FHWA-RD-92-073.
    "Sidewalks are generally inappropriate for use by adults because they put the adult bicyclist in conflict with motorists using driveways, and with pedestrians, utility poles and signposts. Also, the cyclist is generally not visible or noticed by the motorist so that the cyclist suddenly emerges at intersections, surprising the motorist and creating a hazardous condition."
    From the Traffic Safety Toolbox published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (1993)
    Sidewalk bike paths.
    "From the late 1970s through the mid-1980s a number of communities signed some sidewalks or built new paths for bicyclists parallel to roadways. Several states even passed laws forcing bicyclists to use such facilities if they existed. Bicycle/car crashes increased dramatically in some corridors, especially at driveways, intersections, on bridges, and other locations. Sidewalk or paths parallel to a roadway force bicyclists to ride against traffic half of the time. In either direction, motorists are often surprised by the presence of cyclists [on sidepaths], since [motorists] are neither conditioned nor capable of searching these locations for traffic moving at 8-15 mph. Many pedestrians were also hurt, or complained that it was no longer comfortable to walk. Also, many motorists became less considerate of bicyclists who continued to use the often safer roadway sections.…in no case should a bicyclist be forced to use the sidewalk pathway. Never sign a sidewalk or parallel path as a bikeway, since many motorists who see these signs will assume that those bicyclists riding on the roadway section are not permitted to be there."
    Guidelines for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials, 1999.
    "In residential areas, sidewalk riding by young children is common. With lower bicycle speeds and lower cross street auto speeds, potential conflicts are somewhat lessened, but still exist. Nevertheless, this type of sidewalk bicycle use is accepted..." [p. 20]
    "...Sidewalks are typically designed for pedestrian speeds and maneuverability and are not safe for higher speed bicycle use. Conflicts are common between pedestrians traveling at low speeds (exiting stores, parked cars, etc.) and bicyclists, as are conflicts with fixed objects (e.g., parking meters, utility poles, sign posts, bus benches, trees, fire hydrants, mail boxes, etc.) Walkers, joggers, skateboarders and roller skaters can, and often do, change their speed and direction almost instantaneously, leaving bicyclists insufficient reaction time to avoid collisions."
    "Similarly, pedestrians often have difficulty predicting the direction an oncoming bicyclist will take. At intersections, motorists are often not looking for bicyclists (who are traveling at higher speeds than pedestrians) entering the crosswalk area, particularly when motorists are making a turn. Sight distance is often impaired..." [p.58]
    Excerpt from Policy and Procedure for Bicycle Projects, Ohio-DOT, 1988, "BICYCLES ON SIDEWALK TYPE BIKE PATH"
    Sidewalk or sidewalk-type bike paths immediately adjacent to streets and highways will not be approved by ODOT for the following reasons:
    • Bicyclists using a bike path may mistakenly believe that they have the right of way at intersections and driveways, and cross without looking.
    • Stopped or parked motor vehicles at driveways often block the path.
    • Physical barriers placed between motor vehicle lanes and immediately adjacent bicycle paths are a hazard to bicyclists and motorists and also complicate maintenance of the bicycle paths.
    • Bicyclists legitimately using a roadway near a path may be subjected to harassment by motorists who mistakenly believe that bicyclists are required to use the path.
    • If the adjacent bicycle path also serves as a pedestrian sidewalk, bicyclists may pose a hazard to pedestrians.
    • Curb cuts are inconsistently available; bicyclists jumping sidewalk curbs risk losing control.
    • Wide curb-lanes, bike routes, or barrier-free bike lanes are generally the best way to accommodate bicycle traffic along highway corridors.
    From the Traffic Control Devices Handbook published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers.
    Problems with Parallel Separated Paths
    "It is frequently assumed that a separated parallel pathway along an arterial street or highway will provide a superior facility for bicyclists than the provision of on-street accommodations. While a parallel path may be aesthetically appealing, and may serve pedestrians well, the use of sidewalks or parallel separated paths for bicycle accommodation creates the following problems:"
    • These paths will operate as sidewalks, and will be used in both directions, despite signing to the contrary. Bicyclists coming from the right will not be noticed by drivers emerging from or entering cross streets and driveways. See Figure 13 for diagrams that show these potential conflicts.
    • Travel in the direction opposite the flow of traffic is particularly hazardous during hours of darkness, because bicyclists may be blinded by oncoming motor vehicle headlamps.
    • At intersections, drivers will not be looking for bicyclists, who will be traveling much faster than pedestrians, to enter the crosswalk area.
    • At approaches to intersections, parked vehicles interfere with the visibility of bicyclists to road users. Also, at driveways sight distances on sidewalks and sidepaths are often impaired by buildings, property fences, vegetation, and other obstructions.
    • Stopped cross street motor vehicle traffic or vehicles exiting side streets or driveways may block the sidepath or sidewalk.
    • These paths are typically not safe for higher-speed use. Due to the speed differential, conflicts between bicyclists and pedestrians are common. Fixed objects such as parking meters, utility poles, sign posts, bus shelters and benches, trees, hydrants, and cross-sloped sidewalk ramps also pose a hazard to bicyclists.
    • The development of extremely wide sidewalk or sidepaths does not necessarily add to the safety of bicycle travel, as wide sidewalks and paths will encourage higher speed bicycle use, magnifying the potential for conflicts at intersections and driveways, and conflicts with pedestrians and fixed objects.
    • Many bicyclists will use the roadway instead of the sidewalk or sidepath because they have found the highway to be safer, more convenient, or better maintained. Bicyclists using the roadway are often subjected to harassment by motorists, who feel that in all cases bicyclists should be on the sidepath or sidewalk instead.
    • There is the potential on sidewalks for bicyclists to accidentally ride off the curb, possibly causing a fall or collision with traffic on the roadway. While pathways may reduce the possibility of such collisions by using the recommended 1.5 m (5 ft) separation between the path and the roadway, such pathways will still be vulnerable to most of the other problems listed here.
    • Experience has shown that the use of STOP or YIELD signs on sidewalks and pathways to reduce conflicts at driveways and cross streets has little or no benefit. Bicyclists will not comply with unreasonable restrictions on their right of way, especially if the adjacent roadway has no such limitations. This may also breed disrespect for other traffic control devices that are far more important for traffic safety.
    Last edited by Bruce Rosar; 05-09-05 at 12:51 AM. Reason: highlight the word "sidewalk" in red

  19. #94
    JRA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Rosar
    Warnings About Sidewalk Bicycle Facilities...
    Hardly any of which is about sidewalks.

    We were discussing apples (sidewalks). Information about oranges (sidepaths) isn't relevant.

    I said in an earlier post that I thought that sidepaths were dangerous. A sidewalk bicycle facility is an impossibility, anyway. If it's a sidewalk, it can't be a bicycle facility.

    I was hoping somebody could produce some evidence that riding on sidewalks was dangerous. Apparently not.

    The closest thing so far is the Cary accident data. At least some of it is about sidewalks. Goodridge did some good work and the information is interesting but, as evidence that sidewalk ridng is dangerous, it's far from convincing. There's a lot of information that would be useful that is missing. For example, it would help to know the ages of those involved in drive out accidents, which seem to be the only ones involving sidewalk riding to any significant degree. For the other accident types, riding in the street seems to be more dangerous than being on the sidewalk. Goodridge dismisses the significance of some of the accidents by saying the cyclists were youths, but he fails to mention how many of the drive out accidents involved youths. Some of the conclusions don't follow from the accident data. He concludes that "operation on the sidewalk correlated with a disproportionate share of these collisions" but doesn't say how he determined that.

    I was hoping to find more evidence about sidewalks. So far we've got close to nothing, and virtually nothing that is scientific. Evidence about sidepaths is irrelevant.
    Last edited by JRA; 05-08-05 at 10:49 PM.
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    "Motorist propaganda, continued for sixty years, is what has put cyclists on sidewalks." - Forester, sociologist in his own mind
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  20. #95
    Newbie biker steel_is_real's Avatar
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    In my short biking experience I have been trying VC. There are a couple of places in my commute where I have to take the lane. I have to admit that it makes me feel uncomfortable slowing down traffic at these locations when I could be using the sidewalk that has a bike lane and pedestrian lane. I feel it would be safe to use the bike lane because there are very few pedestrians on it, if any. The main reason I don't use it is I can't be bothered going off the road and merging back on later. Also I think it is safer to just stay on the road rather than going off it and merging back on.

  21. #96
    Senior Member Bruce Rosar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JRA
    We were discussing ...sidewalks... Information about ...sidepaths... isn't relevant.
    From Listening to Bike Lanes by Hiles, Jeffrey A.
    Side paths

    Also known as sidewalk bike paths, these facilities run along the sides of roads like sidewalks. Often they are sidewalks transformed into bike paths with “Bike Route” signs. As bicycle transportation facilities, side paths seldom allow bicyclists as much freedom of movement as the roadway. Frequently, side paths create more safety problems than they solve. Studies both in the U.S. and abroad have revealed high bicycle-motor vehicle accident rates on sidewalk bike paths, some as much as three times higher than the accident rates for on-street facilities, such as bike lanes (Clarke & Tracy, 1995, p. 85; Williams & McLaughlin, 1992, p. 7). A study in Palo Alto, California, found that, although streets with side paths carried only 15 percent of the city’s bicycle travel, those same streets hosted “70 percent of the reported bicycle/motor vehicle accidents on the bikeway system” (Zehnpfenning, Cromer, & Maclennan, 1993, p. 32). The State of Oregon Bicycle Master Plan summarizes some of the problems:

    Sidewalks are generally unsafe because they put the cyclist in conflict with motorists using driveways and with pedestrians, utility poles and sign posts. Also, the cyclist is generally not visible or noticed by the motorist so that the cyclist suddenly emerges at intersections, surprising the motorist and creating a hazardous condition. Every attempt should be made to allow bicyclists to function as vehicle drivers, rather than as pedestrians (Oregon Department of Transportation, 1988, p. 24).
    Last edited by Bruce Rosar; 05-08-05 at 11:26 PM. Reason: shorten the post

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    Senior Member Bruce Rosar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steel_is_real
    There are a couple of places in my commute where I have to take the lane. I have to admit that it makes me feel uncomfortable slowing down traffic at these locations when I could be using the sidewalk that has a bike lane and pedestrian lane.
    Here's how I feel about that situation when I'm driving the slower vehicle (whether pedal or motor powered):

    "It's OK to delay faster traffic while you're traveling as fast as you reasonably can (under the conditions then existing at that time & place) if you're not violating any of the traffic movement rules which apply to all drivers"

    Unfortunately my state DOT has the idea that any slow driving (not just cycling) is bad. Two quotes from the NC Driver Handbook:
    ... the slow driver forces other drivers to ... take unnecessary risks while trying to pass.
    Faster-moving vehicles can crash into the slower vehicle before they can slow down.
    Notice the switch from "drivers" in the former quote to "vehicles" in the latter. The DOT's mindset blames slower drivers for some how forcing other drivers to violate the rules governing the privilege of overtaking and passing, but "fingers" vehicles as being responsible for rear-end collisions instead of drivers who violate the basic rule of the road:

    Basic rule (Uniform Vehicle Code 11-801) in the USA
    No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. Consistent with the foregoing, every person shall drive at a safe and appropriate speed when ... special hazards exist with respect to pedestrians or other traffic ...
    Last edited by Bruce Rosar; 05-09-05 at 12:03 AM.
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  23. #98
    Senior Member John C. Ratliff's Avatar
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    Bruce,

    You misquoted me above, which is what I asked people not to do. Here is what I said:

    My conclusion from reading these stats is that sidewalk bicycling is less hazardous than bicycling on a roadway. Crossing roads is another matter, and bicyclists who ride on the crosswalk must be extra cautious (I understand that in some areas this is illegal, but here it is not). . .
    Your quote started at the "...sidewalk bicycling is less hazardous..." part of the above quote. I did not say that; the statistics that were quoted above did.

    Now the people who are against sidewalk bicycling insist that there is this huge problem with cars not expecting the bicyclist to come from a certain direction on the sidewalk. But the statistics show that the problem is not on the sidewalk, but on the roadway. Let me illustrate with an actual accident I witnessed about a year ago. I was on my car avoidance route, which included some sidewalk riding. I rode the sidewalk a block parallel to a major road, got to the intersection, then pushed the button at the crosswalk to await the light. As I did, another bicyclist, a kid in his teens, rode his very small BMX bicycle to the light and stopped. When it turned, he shot through the crosswalk, and up onto the sidewalk ahead of me. When I ride a sidewalk, I ride slowly, and watch for the obsticles. This kid rode very fast, then at the next intersection, about 75 feet further, and started across it in front of me by about 40 feet. What he did not do is look at the lights. He did not have a walk light, and simply jumped into the bicycle lane and rode wrong-way in the bicycle lane, where he was hit by a car attempting to enter the road from a feeder road on his right. He was not injured badly (scraped up, mainly), but was very lucky as he was not wearing a helmet. I stuck around, and gave a witness statement that was not flattering to the bicyclist to the police. I also urged them to cite him for not wearing a helmet (he was under 18, and there is a law on the books about that here in Oregon), which the police did. He was also cited for not yeilding. It was evening, and getting dark, and he did not have any lighting on his bicycle either. The problem was not the sidewalk's existance, or its usage (I used it at the same time without problems). The problem is how the sidewalk is used, and by whom (youngsters without any training in bicycle safety).

    Now, you put these same people (kids without a functioning bicycle for the roadway) onto the road, and you have an even greater problem. You will note that the statistics that are quoted above about the dangers of sidewalk riding do not include fatal accidents. I have already acknowledged that for small injuries, sidewalks can be hazardous. But I don't see many drivers jumping a curb and hitting a bicyclist on the sidewalk (although it can and does happen to both bicyclists and pedestrians). The conflicts that are quoted above as sidewalk or side path accidents largely occur on the roadway, usually at intersections, or in driveways. These actually are easily controlled by the cyclist him or herself, and are also lower speed collisions which do not have quite as much potential for a fatal accident as roadway accidents. It is people who ignore the rules of the road, and enter the roadway fast and without thinking, that cause the problem. But that happens on the road too. These people who speed on sidewalk, race into the roadway against traffic, and ride in other illegal ways will do the same thing on the roadway too, and place themselves at risk there. What I'm saying is that we are dividing the statistics up wrongly.

    Why are we not looking at bicyclists and cars which are illegally using the roadway. Last year, I investigated a bicycle car accident on Wren Road in Washington County. The bicyclist "took the lane" about 150 feet in front of a stop sign. This was a small country road, and you can look up my entries on this website by doing a search. The vehicle (I believe it was a pickup) attempted to pass the bicyclist, and went part way into the other lane. But the bicylist swerved in front of the motorist, and a collision ensued that threw the bicyclist some distance. He was DOA at the hospital. There was no room to pass, and the bicyclist had the ROW. But he decided late in the game to take the lane, and the pickup was traveling at a speed (I don't remember, but it was in the report and I believe it was about 45 mph) where he could not react in time to avoid the collision. The police declared the bicyclist at fault, and the motorist was not cited. He passed in an area marked with a double yellow line, for no-passing. There was also no sidewalk, so there was no possibility of staying away from motorists in the area. The bicycling map indicated that this was a good road (marked green) for bicycling due to the low traffic volume. But it only takes one motor vehicle.

    For those of you who are comfortable riding amoungst 55 mph traffic without bicycle lanes (VC), I'd like you to envision a different world. In this world, there are no speed limits, and most Americans have decided that they cannot get what they need from a Hummer. They have bought Mac Trucks, and about every vehicle on this road runs at 30,000 pounds (which is about the same differential in mass between a car and the truck as between a bicyclist and a car today). The Mac trucks have been offered, as on upgrade, a truck with unlimited speed (which they paid through the nose for). If they were to drive a car on this road, the car was expected only to be able to make 55 mph. So if they were operating in this fictional world with the same velocity differential that bicycles do today to cars, what would be the speed of the trucks? If you can operate at 20 mph on a bicycle, the cars in this world to be at the same disadvantage as a bicyclist today would face Mac trucks running at 151 mph. But most of us cannot maintain 20 mph while we ride/commute. So at 12 mph average speed for a bicycle today, the car going 55 mph would face a Mac truck going 252 mph. But what about the hills. A bicyclist on a hill can be down to 6 mph. What would be the velocity of the Mac truck of the future if the car was facing the same differential as a bicyclist today on a hill? Well, the Mac truck would be going 504 mph (about the same as a slightly subsonic jet plane). So for you comfortable in 55 mph traffic, do you think a car driver in the fucture driving 55 mph would be comfortable having 20 or 30 Mac trucks passing him or her at 504 mph? I don't think so. Why then are you comfortable with these cars coming by you at 55 mph, and 2-5 feet off your elbow?

    John
    Last edited by John C. Ratliff; 05-09-05 at 12:52 AM.
    John Ratliff

  24. #99
    JRA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Rosar
    From Listening to Bike Lanes by Hiles, Jeffrey A.

    "Sidewalks are generally unsafe because they put the cyclist in conflict with motorists using driveways and with pedestrians, utility poles and sign posts. Also, the cyclist is generally not visible or noticed by the motorist so that the cyclist suddenly emerges at intersections, surprising the motorist and creating a hazardous condition. Every attempt should be made to allow bicyclists to function as vehicle drivers, rather than as pedestrians" (Oregon Department of Transportation, 1988, p. 24).
    We're obviously talking past each other. I know what a sidewalk is and I know what a sidepath is. I've been cycling regularly both for transportation and for enjoyment for nearly 50 years. I've ridden on roads of virtually every description, on sidewalks, sidepaths, trails and just about everywhere else. Personally, I've never found riding on the sidewalk to be any more dangerous to me or others than riding anywhere else. It's less dangerous than riding on some so-called "bicycle facilities".

    I know that the accepted wisdom is that sidewalk riding is dangerous. I know the reasons usually given for believing that sidewalk riding is dangerous. I also know that there are groups who want people to believe that sidewalk riding is dangerous whether there's evidence to support that belief or not. What I'd like to know is what scientific or semi-scientific basis there is (if any) for believing that sidewalk riding is dangerous.

    I know that's a lot to ask.

    If accepted wisdom is wrong, it wouldn't be the first time. It wouldn't be the first time that people convinced themselves that something was true because that is what they want to believe and because they have no motivation to look at the evidence critically.

    When sidewalk riding is mentioned, there always seems to be someone who says that it's incredibly dangerous, often quoting the same tired old statistics from the same questionable studies. I'd like to know if there's any significant evidence that sidewalk riding is inherently dangerous or if it's just accepted wisdom.

    I'm beginning to think there no more truth in the idea that riding on the sidewalk is dangerous than there is in the opposite accepted wisdom - that riding in traffic is dangerous. There are potential hazards in riding either place but, personally, I don't think riding a bicycle either place is anywhere near as dangerous as some people would have us believe.
    "It may even be that motoring is more healthful than not motoring; death rates were certainly higher in the pre-motoring age."- John Forester
    "Laws cannot be properly understood as if written in plain English..."- Forester defending obfuscation.
    "Motorist propaganda, continued for sixty years, is what has put cyclists on sidewalks." - Forester, sociologist in his own mind
    "'There are no rules of the road on MUPs.' -John Forester" - Helmet Head quoting 'The Great One'

  25. #100
    Senior Member Bruce Rosar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John C. Ratliff
    Why then are you comfortable with these cars coming by you at 55 mph, and 2-5 feet off your elbow?
    Generally, because driving vehicles (whether pedal or motor powered) according to the rules for the movement of vehicles within the traveled way (that portion of the public way intended for vehicular travel) is the most effective means of transportation between my destinations.

    Specifically, because drivers on high-speed roads (such as our local Rt. 64) almost always give me room enough so that I feel comfortable when they pass me (sometimes at speeds which I estimate to be 55+ mph). I do feel less comfortable on the rare occasion when a driver passes me with less room than I prefer.

    During daylight hours, I find that a rear view mirror helps to maintain my comfort level by reducing the "pucker factor" of a surprise pass (in the dark, the glow from their headlight provides the notification). Another practice that improves my comfort is keeping some usable pavement to the outside of my line of travel (for those once in a decade occasions when a passing driver goofs and returns to their original path before they're clear of my vehicle).
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