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Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.

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Old 02-12-13, 06:54 PM   #1
thiocyclist
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Sometimes it's just too scary for me.

I'm all behind the idea that cyclists largely belong on the street, not on the sidewalk. Sidewalks present at least equal danger and arguably more variables than the road (in my experience; not citing a study or anything).

...And yet. There are a couple of places in Denver on my commute where I just don't feel safe riding on the street, so I take the sidewalk. I always yield to pedestrians, and I have to be extra mindful of turning vehicles that aren't looking for me. But for this two-tenths of a mile or so I just don't feel good on the street because the drivers are always in a rush hour mentality, save sleepy weekends. There is a even a wide bus lane and that is not very safe, because then I have to jockey between buses and parked cars (and rogue drivers trying to save time by using this lane). It's scary! And I consider myself a competent commuter with several thousand miles of street experience.

What do you do in that situation? Suck it up and just learn to deal with it, or adapt to sidewalk riding for a brief distance like I have? Is there a third way? What is it?
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Old 02-12-13, 07:05 PM   #2
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I assume there is no alternate route?

I believe there are times when using a narrow "side path" is prudent.

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Old 02-12-13, 07:22 PM   #3
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I believe in following your intuition. You are experienced on those roads, so you are riding in a manner which you feel is safe. Bravo. Perhaps in the future you'll come to a place where you feel more comfortable riding that short stretch out on the road, rather than on the sidewalk.

Also, it seems like you are aware of this, but be very careful crossing the side streets. My gf, who used to hate riding on roads, was hit and run over by a driver who did not see her coming off the curb to cross the street. She was severely injured. Five years later, now she rides roads exclusively.
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Old 02-12-13, 07:52 PM   #4
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There is one major alternate route but it's also pretty hectic. I basically have to cross a major business hub of my city to get where I'm going.

I'm sorry to hear about your girlfriend, SJ. Hope she was able to fully recover (glad to hear she can ride). I definitely notice that side roads are a big problem with turning cars that aren't looking for a bike. When on the sidewalk, I try to limit myself to not much more than pedestrian speeds.
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Old 02-12-13, 08:09 PM   #5
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If that 2/10 of a mile is dangerous, keep using the sidewalk.
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Old 02-12-13, 08:58 PM   #6
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Your safety comes first....choose accordingly!
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Old 02-12-13, 09:11 PM   #7
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Sidewalk riding is as dangerous or as safe as you make it. There are measures you can take to address everything that is often dangerous about sidewalk riding. If you need to go really fast, however, its going to be difficult or impossible to make sidewalk riding safe on most sidewalks.

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Old 02-12-13, 09:24 PM   #8
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Some roads are just really dangerous for cycling, regardless of what the "Exercise your rights!!!" crowd might think. If you have to go that direction and have to use that road, then you should ride the sidewalk if that's what you think best.
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Old 02-12-13, 09:39 PM   #9
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+1 for the sidewalk when necessary
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Old 02-12-13, 11:35 PM   #10
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Agreeing with everyone here, and it sounds like you already have the answer. You have thousands of miles of commuting experience -- I'd say your gut trumps any contrary advice given here.

As to sidewalks being as dangerous or more so than streets, that opinion is often expressed but I think it's a canard. If a pedestrian can walk safely on a sidewalk, so a cyclist can ride safely, assuming they are willing to slow down and yield to cross traffic like a pedestrian.
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Old 02-13-13, 08:28 AM   #11
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Generally in my experience, on a road where you'd be forced to ride on the sidewalk, people are not walking there anyways.
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Old 02-13-13, 08:43 AM   #12
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Use all the tools in your toolbox to get safely to your destination.

Our bicycle club meets at a recreation area on a busy road. 99% of our rides are out in the traffic lanes, but we take the sidewalk out of the recreation area to get to the first intersection, and use that sidewalk from the other direction to get from the river trail back to the recreation area. The road there is two lanes each way with a raised median and curbs, 40 mph limit and people routinely do 60 through there. I rode the lane once and had to bail out up the curb when a minivan almost took me out.

Advocacy and bikes belong and all that stuff is good, but personal safety comes first.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 02-13-13, 09:07 AM   #13
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I go salmon on 1 km of my commute for the same reason so who am I to judge you.
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Old 02-13-13, 09:19 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thiocyclist View Post
. . . .

What do you do in that situation? Suck it up and just learn to deal with it, or adapt to sidewalk riding for a brief distance like I have? Is there a third way? What is it?
I ride the sidewalk in that situation and work hard at keeping it extremely slow.
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Old 02-13-13, 09:54 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don in Austin View Post
Sidewalk riding is as dangerous or as safe as you make it. There are measures you can take to address everything that is often dangerous about sidewalk riding. If you need to go really fast, however, its going to be difficult or impossible to make sidewalk riding safe on most sidewalks.
Correct. A safe cyclist will adjust his/her riding technique, to include speed, to the traffic environment.

A cyclist who wants to prove a sidewalk or sidepath is dangerous will ride using the same speeds and right-of-way that he uses on the roadway, and make no adjustments to adapt to the cycling environment.

One alleged safety expert concluded that the risk rate of sidepath (AKA sidewalk) cycling was at least 1,000 times greater on the sidepath than on the roadway, based on just such a "test" ride. This anecdote of idiotic cycling described as a scientific "test" of sidewalk/sidepath cycling safety has been reported in all the various editions of John Forester's books Effective Cycling and Bicycle Transportation. It is no wonder that so many self proclaimed cycling safety experts repeat the mantra of the dangers of any use of a sidewalk for any kind of cycling.
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Old 02-13-13, 09:58 AM   #16
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Sidewalks are dangerous for normal cycling, certainly. But if you go slow, how are you in any more danger than a jogger?

I know I'm just joining the chorus here, but it's your arse and you know the road. No one here is in a position to judge what is apparently a thoughtful response to a difficult situation by the guy who's actually in said situation.
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Old 02-13-13, 10:07 AM   #17
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*pedestrian approaches*
"Hey! You can't bike on the sidewalk!"
*dismount*
"Fine, I'll walk my bike and take up twice the room on the sidewalk then."
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Old 02-13-13, 10:11 AM   #18
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do what you feel is safest. sounds good to me. I do the same.
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Old 02-13-13, 10:24 AM   #19
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As many have said, this sounds perfectly reasonable. Put your safety first.
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Old 02-13-13, 11:07 AM   #20
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Two tenths of a mile? I'd be on the sidewalk in a heartbeat if the street was just unsafe, with only a twinge of guilt.
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Old 02-13-13, 11:14 AM   #21
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+1 on using the sidewalk as a way past dangerous sections of road if there is no reasonable alternative route. The only thing I'd like to say in addition is that riders using the sidewalk need to adjust their riding style to accommodate the pedestrian and other user traffic. Slow down and give appropriate consideration to other sidewalk/MUP users.
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Old 02-13-13, 11:25 AM   #22
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I would rather cut through a parking lot if possible but will take the sidewalk if necessary.

Here is one bridge where I definitely take the sidewalk at night.

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Old 02-13-13, 11:47 AM   #23
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I would rather cut through a parking lot if possible but will take the sidewalk if necessary.

Here is one bridge where I definitely take the sidewalk at night.

holy, that's a sidewalk?
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Old 02-13-13, 12:30 PM   #24
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holy, that's a sidewalk?
Nice, ain't it?
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Old 02-13-13, 12:38 PM   #25
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I would rather cut through a parking lot if possible but will take the sidewalk if necessary.

Here is one bridge where I definitely take the sidewalk at night.

That looks a lot like the bridge that my post below was referring to:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
Our bicycle club meets at a recreation area on a busy road. 99% of our rides are out in the traffic lanes, but we take the sidewalk out of the recreation area to get to the first intersection, and use that sidewalk from the other direction to get from the river trail back to the recreation area. The road there is two lanes each way with a raised median and curbs, 40 mph limit and people routinely do 60 through there. I rode the lane once and had to bail out up the curb when a minivan almost took me out.


...only the bridge I ride is in better repair and has a wider sidewalk (although there are telephone poles in the middle of it in a couple spots).
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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