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Old 09-26-07, 07:34 AM   #1
why2not
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Kids all over the sidewalks

This morning, I left late for work. As I was driving past an elementary school, I noticed a great many kids on the sidewalks riding their bikes to school. They seemed to be doing a good job, acting just as pedestrians, waiting at the cross walks for the guards to wave them through, etc.

It seems that most elementary school childern where I live are "taught" by their parents to ride on the sidewalk (persumably as safer to the youngsters). A few weeks ago, I was driving in my car with my 14YO & one of his friends & came up behind a cyclist. As I was waiting for an opening to safely pass, my 14YO's friend commented "He should be on the sidewalk."

Since then, I've been paying a little more attention & have noticed that most of the drivers who honk at me or yell "Get on the sidewalk" appear to be teens through mid-20's.

I grew up in a rural area, and didn't have the option of riding on a sidewalk as a kid. I remember that in elemetary school, the police came & conducted a bicycle safety clinic. As the vast majority of America has shifted to suburbia & sidewalks, and helicopter parents scheme up new ways to keep our kids safe, I wonder how may young drivers are totally unaware that bikes are allowed on the road, & how many think they only belong on the sidewalks (where they were taught to ride)?
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Old 09-26-07, 08:03 AM   #2
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Novice and non-cycling parents are responsible for much of the past emphasis on promoting sidewalk cycling in my area, including government programs to designate sidewalks as bike paths, install bike-specific stop signs on sidewalks at intersections, and narrow outside travel lanes to provide space for wider bike-oriented sidewalks to encourage sidewalk cycling. However, local crash stats show a very high rate of car-bike crashes among sidewalk cyclists, greatly disproportionate to the miles traveled, and many of those crashes occur on quiet streets that most of us here would consider ideal for roadway cycling with our families.

Here in Cary, experienced cyclists have made progress with local city planners and engineers by taking them out on the road for LAB Road 1 classes, and analyzing crash data and road designs with them. We've obtained much better support for on-roadway cycling and have practically halted the programs that promoted sidewalk cycling in Cary. Raleigh and Wake County still have some sidewalk bikeway/narrow outside lane engineering projects active but that may change with their new bike plan coming out soon. One of the top traffic engineers in Raleigh took our Road 1 class and really does "get it".

Our communities have some really wonderful neighborhood roadways for cycling; it makes me sad to see so many 13-year-old cyclists crowding the sidewalks on these streets. I understand that some of our thoroughfares are unpleasant and drivers can be unfriendly to cyclists on some of them, and so I am always promoting better connectivity of pleasant routes and making the thoroughfares better. But those unpleasant links don't seem to be the reason for the promotion of sidewalk cycling. Instead, it seems to be a general paradigm held by novice and non-cyclists that bicyclist=pedestrian or roadway=motor traffic only.
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Old 09-26-07, 09:57 AM   #3
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Isn't it reasonable to steer kids, who have yet to develop the skills, instincts, and maturity needed to interact with traffic, to the sidewalks? Then as they get older, perhaps driving age, or a bit less, and their skills are better, help them make the transition to the roads.

And, while we're talking about riding on sidewalks, I was on 54 approaching 15-501 in Chapel Hill late yesterday afternoon. An adult was riding on the sidewalk/MUP that runs parallel to the road. As he approached an intersection that had a big stop sign on the path he took one casual glance over his left shoulder and rode on past the stop sign. I hope we don't end up reading about him being involved in an accident sometime in the future.
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Old 09-26-07, 12:04 PM   #4
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Isn't it reasonable to steer kids, who have yet to develop the skills, instincts, and maturity needed to interact with traffic, to the sidewalks? Then as they get older, perhaps driving age, or a bit less, and their skills are better, help them make the transition to the roads.
I agree, most kids are riding at a speed so as not to be a danger to pedestrians, and given all the traffic safety pounded into them from the viewpoint of a pedestrian rather than a vehicle driver, they wouldn't know how to cycle safely on the streets (like any other vehicle.. not necessarily VC). They are essentially faster pedestrians with limited agility.

That said, they very quickly can learn how to cycle on the road. When I was in my youth there weren't any sidewalks between my house and school except for the last 200 yards. So I was forced to ride on the road (and a narrow one with high traffic at 35mph at that). By the time most kids are 11-12, they have enough of a grasp of traffic laws, and enough control and awareness to be able to control a bike alone on the roadways safely (at least from my experience). The trouble is telling them that it's proper to ride on the street unless your a kid, and expecting them to make the transition. Many kids stop riding before they're old enough to ride on the street, so they never learn that it's okay and then when they start driving, any traffic impediment becomes a big deal, and thus ensues the motorist hostility towards bikers. And seeing adults yelling at bikers influences others to do the same, and on and on. I wouldn't want to know how not cycling as a child would affect this.

Now there is of course danger in cycling on the sidewalks, as demonstrated by statistics, so if children cannot learn to stop at intersections, be wary of vehicles turning into and out of driveways, etc. then they shouldn't be piloting a bike at all, or at least alone. And adults, who will typically travel twice as fast or faster shouldn't be on the sidewalks at all. At that speed and with that mass, the sidewalk is simply too risky unless the road is riskier.

Just my thoughts...
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Old 09-26-07, 04:11 PM   #5
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I don't have a problem with small children riding on the sidewalk, especially when they're barely faster than walking speeds. We have some neighborhood roads around here with little traffic and no sidewalks so on those kids have to use the road. My biggest pet peave is when they ride on the wrong side of the road.

My six year old just learned to ride her bike and I've been teaching her to stay on the right side of the road at all times. She is really getting the hang of it. I'm just surprised how few parents teach their kids what side of the road to ride on.
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Old 09-26-07, 05:57 PM   #6
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Main problem I see is that drivers aren't scanning sidewalks for anything other than walkers. At least I'm not. I'd have a good chance of hitting or turning in front of a sidewalk cyclist.

At least I don't have to worry about it. We don't have sidewalks.
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Old 09-27-07, 05:36 AM   #7
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These kids were acting as ped's. They weren't crossing the streets unless they had the "crossing guard" out there with their stop sign.

But it makes me wonder how many kids grow into car driving adults who know that cyclists are entitled to ride somewhere other than the sidewalk.
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Old 09-27-07, 12:20 PM   #8
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The biggest problem with riding on sidewalks is there are way to many intersections. Every drive way is one every parking lot every road. Now there are instances where such as in front of school grounds where they may not be any drive ways etc for a few 100 feet. In such cases i say jump on the side walk as it will be safer for kids. Same goes for places where its on street parking for a couple miles between roads with various shops along the road. It is fairly common here to see a street where one side has next to no roads some times for a solid 2 or 3 miles along one side where most shops and stores are located.
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Old 09-27-07, 12:54 PM   #9
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unaware that bikes are allowed on the road,
When ridden by an adult - in Ohio - they are required on the road. I don't recall the exact age offhand - 14, perhaps - but only children are permitted to ride bikes on the sidewalk. It's generally not enforced, though, unless someone's being a threat to pedestrians.
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Old 09-27-07, 01:16 PM   #10
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Pete

The city I work for has it's own traffic codes, generally identical the ORC. I'll stand corrected on this, and revise my comment to say "the city where I'm employed".

Thanks for the correction.
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Old 09-27-07, 01:19 PM   #11
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My kids are being steered towards riding on the road now that the wobble years are over.
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Old 09-27-07, 01:21 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by sggoodri View Post
Novice and non-cycling parents are responsible for much of the past emphasis on promoting sidewalk cycling in my area, including government programs to designate sidewalks as bike paths, install bike-specific stop signs on sidewalks at intersections, and narrow outside travel lanes to provide space for wider bike-oriented sidewalks to encourage sidewalk cycling. However, local crash stats show a very high rate of car-bike crashes among sidewalk cyclists, greatly disproportionate to the miles traveled, and many of those crashes occur on quiet streets that most of us here would consider ideal for roadway cycling with our families.

Here in Cary, experienced cyclists have made progress with local city planners and engineers by taking them out on the road for LAB Road 1 classes, and analyzing crash data and road designs with them. We've obtained much better support for on-roadway cycling and have practically halted the programs that promoted sidewalk cycling in Cary. Raleigh and Wake County still have some sidewalk bikeway/narrow outside lane engineering projects active but that may change with their new bike plan coming out soon. One of the top traffic engineers in Raleigh took our Road 1 class and really does "get it".

Our communities have some really wonderful neighborhood roadways for cycling; it makes me sad to see so many 13-year-old cyclists crowding the sidewalks on these streets. I understand that some of our thoroughfares are unpleasant and drivers can be unfriendly to cyclists on some of them, and so I am always promoting better connectivity of pleasant routes and making the thoroughfares better. But those unpleasant links don't seem to be the reason for the promotion of sidewalk cycling. Instead, it seems to be a general paradigm held by novice and non-cyclists that bicyclist=pedestrian or roadway=motor traffic only.
Interesting.

Any data on the ages of the cyclists injured in sidewalk crashes, compared to cyclists injured while riding in the street? Also, is there data on the relative severity of injuries on sidewalk compared to street crashes?
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Old 09-27-07, 01:25 PM   #13
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Double-checked: it is a local ordinance, and here's the sub-section I was referring to. (At least I'm not totally senile. Yet )



(b) Minors fifteen years of age or less may be permitted to ride bicycles on sidewalks where the buildings do not abut the paved parts of the sidewalks; provided that, when approaching a pedestrian or other person lawfully using the sidewalk, any minor riding on the sidewalk shall give audible warning by means of a bell or horn and shall yield the use of the sidewalk to the pedestrian or other person dismounting if necessary to do so.
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Old 09-27-07, 01:28 PM   #14
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Many of the kids I see tearing around on SWs don't/barely look before entering the intersection for the most part. Take into account most drivers here only marginally give a fig about the stop line on the side streets and you have potential for disaster.
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Old 09-27-07, 01:49 PM   #15
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The biggest problem with riding on sidewalks is there are way to many intersections. Every drive way is one every parking lot every road. Now there are instances where such as in front of school grounds where they may not be any drive ways etc for a few 100 feet. In such cases i say jump on the side walk as it will be safer for kids. Same goes for places where its on street parking for a couple miles between roads with various shops along the road. It is fairly common here to see a street where one side has next to no roads some times for a solid 2 or 3 miles along one side where most shops and stores are located.
A rider on a sidewalk encounters the same number of intersections as a rider on the street. I have never seen a driveway or parking lot that terminates at the sidewalk. However, since cyclists are expected to behave as motor vehicles, follow motor vehicle laws and be predictable on the street, you can't expect children who are under driving age to know the motor vehicle laws. The safest place for these minors is the sidewalk. They can transition to the streets as they grow more experienced.
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Old 09-27-07, 01:54 PM   #16
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In Pennsylvania, if riding on a sidewalk, a bicycle must give the right of way to a pedestrian.

Also, a bicycle is prohibitted from using a sidewalk in a business district, or if a usable bicycle only lane is provided, unless "permitted by official traffic-control devices."

I do feel like asking the police if they ever plan on enforcing this in downtown Wilkes-Barre. I have nearly been run down several times as a pedestrian by people on bikes.
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Old 09-28-07, 11:10 AM   #17
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A rider on a sidewalk encounters the same number of intersections as a rider on the street. I have never seen a driveway or parking lot that terminates at the sidewalk. However, since cyclists are expected to behave as motor vehicles, follow motor vehicle laws and be predictable on the street, you can't expect children who are under driving age to know the motor vehicle laws. The safest place for these minors is the sidewalk. They can transition to the streets as they grow more experienced.

I said they have more not less. Each drive way becomes a sort of intersection in that cars bikes or other vehicles can and do intersect each others paths.
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Old 09-28-07, 12:15 PM   #18
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It's definitely a conundrum, because not only do small children lack knowledge of traffic laws, they also lack the mental capacity (attention span, depth perception, closing speed estimation) to execute safe driving even if they knew the laws. They also usually lack of good bike control, and ride at low speeds. So it does make some sense to initially teach them to ride as pedestrians. But in our culture, there are not many sources of knowledge of how to move beyond that style as they grow into teenagers. People naturally retain what they learned as kids, especially if no new knowledge to the contrary ever reaches them.

I had a similar incident a few months ago. There is a park near our house that has a stretch of pavement along the river large enough for cars to use, although it is not a named street, and traffic volume is low and slow because of so many other users. It has a white lane on one side, and we have encouraged our boys (7 and 9) to ride in that "shoulder" line. So a few months ago we are out for a family activity in our car, and encounter a cyclist on a narrow country road. He is a foot or so to the left of the white line, which was fine because the shoulder was only about 6" wide. After I slowed and passed him safely, my 7-year-old said that he should have been behind the line. When I asked him why in the world he would say that, he reminded me of our rule on this road in the park, and it made sense to me that he would generalize from that. It reminded me of the need to gradually give them more subtle knowledge about riding practices, as they become ready, which I tried to start doing right then.
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Old 09-28-07, 12:17 PM   #19
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I said they have more not less. Each drive way becomes a sort of intersection in that cars bikes or other vehicles can and do intersect each others paths.
Exactly! The same driveways that intersect the sidewalks intersect the streets. Therefore there are neither more nor fewer intersections on sidewalks than on streets, but an equal number. Please explain how can there be more? My statement was "A rider on a sidewalk encounters the same number of intersections as a rider on the street."
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Old 09-28-07, 02:13 PM   #20
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Exactly! The same driveways that intersect the sidewalks intersect the streets. Therefore there are neither more nor fewer intersections on sidewalks than on streets, but an equal number. Please explain how can there be more? My statement was "A rider on a sidewalk encounters the same number of intersections as a rider on the street."
not in the same way as a through road intersects another road. A drive way would be more akin to a t intersection where the road is only coming from one side. How ever when on a side walk it is much more akin to a cross intersection. Also intersections have some form of traffic control in at least one direction while a drive way does not. Now also remember that all drivers will pull their car truck etc out in to the path of the side walk blocking the entire side walk while the road is not blocked even when a driver pulls out partially in to the road.
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Old 09-28-07, 02:55 PM   #21
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not in the same way as a through road intersects another road. A drive way would be more akin to a t intersection where the road is only coming from one side. How ever when on a side walk it is much more akin to a cross intersection. Also intersections have some form of traffic control in at least one direction while a drive way does not. Now also remember that all drivers will pull their car truck etc out in to the path of the side walk blocking the entire side walk while the road is not blocked even when a driver pulls out partially in to the road.
OK, I understand what you were thinking now .. not the quantity of intersections but the different circumstances one could encounter when riding on the sidewalk. Thanks
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