The other day, as I was riding my bicycle, a woman screamed at me to "get on the sidewalk."
The West Virginia Code says as follows:
"§17C-11-2. Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles.
Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to those provisions of this chapter which by their nature can have no application."
Furthermore, the Charleston City Code, Section 114-706, forbids the riding of bicycles on sidewalks.
Hence, I was acting within State law--and the other forty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have similar provisions--and had I obeyed her injunction I would have been in violation of city law (many other cities have similar provisions).
What can we conclude from this other than that ignorant, loudmouthed harridans should keep their pie-holes shut? At least no soldiers died to power my ride.
That being said, these same laws say that bicyclists are supposed to obey the rules of the road, and I admit that I see my fellow-cyclists flagrantly disobeying them--riding against traffic, on sidewalks, at night without lights; running stopsigns and -lights; otherwise behaving like asshats--and can understand motorists' frustration with us.
Yet I have never seen or even heard of the police issuing a citation to a cyclist for violating his or her obligations as a user of the roadways.
If we cyclists are to be considered responsible and respectable users of the road system, then we need to act as such, and we need to be held to the same standards as our motorized fellow-citizens. I call upon my fellow-cyclists to familiarize themselves with the law and to ride accordingly; I call upon motorists to respect our right to the road; and I call upon the police to hold us as accountable for violations of the law as they do drivers of vehicles powerd by petroleum rather than muscle.