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Old 08-28-10, 10:51 AM   #1
nashvillwill
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Ever discourage a cyclist from using the street?

I would say in my city the percentage of street vs. sidewalk riders is 50/50. There is little education here about proper cycling. That goes for drivers and cyclist both. I often feel the urge to talk to these sidewalk riders and try to explain the benefits of proper cycling. But i digress, many of the sidewalk riders i observe are not what i would call strong riders. Many sidewalk riders are just trudging along, spinning about 25 rpm @ 2 mph, wobbling and appear to be scared.

So, I'm stopped at a traffic light the other day, and a cyclist from the sidewalk calls out to me. He jokingly says; "better stay of the streets. Drivers here are crazy." I replied "be careful on that sidewalk. Drivers don't see you." He asked if i was scared in traffic, so i decided to pull off and have a chat.

Granted, i noticed this guy on the sidewalk as i was passing him and sized up his style of riding as very weak. I'm not really sure that i would feel comfortable trying to talk this guy into traffic. He would likely not understand how to properly position in a lane, would probably scare/piss off drivers, not obey traffic laws, and just might get hurt.

So we chat for a minute or so, and i explain to him the benefits of riding on the street vs. sidewalk. But i left him insisting that if he chose to do so, he would need to be more aggressive and aware. Essentially, i tried to paint an image that he might not like. Now, i didn't want to purposely discourage him from learning, but i don't want to put the faint of heart out there either.

Anyone else run across this?
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Old 08-28-10, 11:43 AM   #2
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As a bicycle commuter of well over 30 years I have a rule of thumb that I follow: Get there safely.

I commute/tour a little over 2,000 miles each year. There are a couple of areas that even I ride the sidewalk because I need to get to my destination and want to do it safely. In my time of commuting, I've been hit twice. Lots of close calls. No fears of traffic but I also ride very cautiously and very predictably. When I talk with new commuters, these are things I bring up: Be predictable, be courteous and respectful to drivers, be very cautious, especially if you choose to ride a sidewalk or roadside trail. Find ways to ride safely so you can enjoy the ride.

FWIW, I think you handled that situation very well.

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Old 08-28-10, 11:56 AM   #3
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Yeah...I have this conversation often. People who ride fairly casually are always so shocked when I suggest that the street is the safest place for me. It seems like no matter how I explain it, they always just sort of stare at me blankly and say something like, "I could never do that. A car would hit me." So I just let it go. It's no good to be terrified out there.

I do, however, try to stress that cycling 'strength' doesn't matter. My reasoning is, it doesn't matter if you're traveling 10 or 25 km/h - you're still a slow-moving vehicle the car has to deal with safely. This is a matter of lane position, to my mind. As far as traffic laws go, these people I talk to generally have driver's licenses, so surely that's not an issue.
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Old 08-28-10, 11:58 AM   #4
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Nobody likes unsolicited advice. It just makes most people defensive.
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Old 08-28-10, 11:59 AM   #5
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Yeah...I have this conversation often. People who ride fairly casually are always so shocked when I suggest that the street is the safest place for me. It seems like no matter how I explain it, they always just sort of stare at me blankly and say something like, "I could never do that. A car would hit me." So I just let it go. It's no good to be terrified out there.

I do, however, try to stress that cycling 'strength' doesn't matter. My reasoning is, it doesn't matter if you're traveling 10 or 25 km/h - you're still a slow-moving vehicle the car has to deal with safely. This is a matter of lane position, to my mind. As far as traffic laws go, these people I talk to generally have driver's licenses, so surely that's not an issue.
I love racing through the campus when classes get out. Its like a mountain bike course where the trees move :-D. The stupidest people "move out of the way" which is right into your intended path. Its just not possible to ride safely on the sidewalk going 20 mph.
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Old 08-28-10, 12:52 PM   #6
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Ever discourage a cyclist from using the street?

Yes, and those would be street Salmon cyclist.
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Old 08-28-10, 01:29 PM   #7
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Wish I would have stopped the salmon cyclist that was riding towards me on the expressway Tuesday morning. That SOB actually needed to be on the sidewalk somewhere, just far, far away from me. 5:30 am...no lights...no brains. Looked like he was trying to bypass a left turn/intersection to catch the MUP at the end of the block. We were both easily doing 20. Would have been a nasty wreck if I'd had no lights.

As for the rest of the population in my neck of the woods, it's about the same: 50/50.
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Old 08-28-10, 02:53 PM   #8
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There's an old kids' Huffy sitting at my parents'. When I'm riding that thing, I generally stick to the sidewalks - I'm lucky to top 8mph, if that.
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Old 08-28-10, 03:09 PM   #9
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As much as I wish I could stop and educate every cyclist, I don't because the fear is too deep for many. Instead, I do the street riding which shows by example.
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Old 08-28-10, 03:30 PM   #10
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Just ride the way you normally ride. Hopefully people will role model you. If they want to have a conversation about it and i'm not in a hurry I probably would have a chat.

A few weeks ago some kid saw me riding in the bike lane (while he was on the sidewalk). After I passed him I saw him actually get off the sidewalk and ride in the bike lane behind me (bless his little heart). Although due to his age (he looked around 9-10) he probably should of stayed on the sidewalk.
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Old 08-28-10, 03:59 PM   #11
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There are a few intersections here in Honolulu which are particularly dangerous. I encourage my friends to use the sidewalks on those occasions.
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Old 08-28-10, 04:36 PM   #12
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I try to show by example, that riding on the road is possible.
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Old 08-28-10, 04:43 PM   #13
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There are a few intersections here in Honolulu which are particularly dangerous. I encourage my friends to use the sidewalks on those occasions.
that's really interesting. Since the motorists around here don't stop for stop signs or traffic lights, I try to get people on the street. My daughter's bike was totaled by a right turning motorist that didn't stop for the red light when my daughter was on a sidewalk "bike path". The students just came back, and checking for pedestrians and sidewalk cyclists, salmons, and the street is really, really difficult.

When I was a kid, I was hit as a pedestrian on a sidewalk by a motorist coming out of a grocery store. I usually emphasize to sidewalk cyclists how difficult it is for most motorists to see them coming. I have ridden on sidewalks with my kids, I have tried to convince them to keep it to a minimum.
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Old 08-28-10, 05:22 PM   #14
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I don't know. It depends. There are some streets that just are not safe for cycling. 50 or 55 mph speed limit streets I stay out of. That is practically a highway. Especially if its a 2 lane with gravel shoulders. 45 is iffy, if there is a smooth sidewalk I will take it. 40 or under I will probably be in the street (unless its a 2 lane with gravel shoulders). I would probably turn around and find a new route, or swap into my tennis shoes and walk for a bit. Bikes have no business being on those kinds of streets, unless you can ride the speed limit. Because now you are backing up traffic and cars will have to pass you and enter the opposite lane. Just putting lots of things at risk. A 4 lane road where they can simply change lanes, or move partially into a new lane to pass you is fine.

Its city vs suburbs also. City drivers are much more aware of cyclists. There are even bike lanes on some streets in the city. Actually most. Suburban drivers don't see very many cyclists, so aren't as aware. Riding in the city is a completely different world than riding in the suburbs.
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Old 08-28-10, 05:30 PM   #15
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I'm glad to see some experienced people on here saying it's OK to be on the sidewalk when conditions don't warrant being on the street.

My very first concern is my safety. Second is the safety of the goobers around me. I wanna be on the road 100 percent of the time, but there's a time in my commute to my gym, for example, where the road is crazy narrow and steeply uphill.

I'm not as scared for my safety in that situation as I am the people around me - I'm scared someone's gonna get impatient, try to pass me to the left and hit another car head-on because of the steep uphill and narrow lanes. I know some might say "but that would be their fault, so what?," but who needs that? Besides, some of the wreckage might hit me. So on that part of the road, I take the sidewalk. If the road's wide enough or not heavily traveled enough that someone can get around me without causing chaos, I'm taking the road every time. If the road's narrow or particularly crazy busy and I've got a sidewalk that seems empty, I'm taking the sidewalk. I'd say it's about 90 percent road use. There's nothing absolute when you're driving a 35-pound bike against a 2-ton car, it's survival of the fittest. And I'm the fittest.

When I'm on the sidewalk, I have the rule that anyone on foot has the absolute right-of-way, to the point where I'll get off the bike and walk it past someone on foot, then start riding again. I've never been in such a hurry that I won't wave traffic through if I'm at an intersection and conditions permit. I haven't been cursed or had anything thrown at me yet (knock on wood) so hopefully I'm doing something right.
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Old 08-28-10, 05:46 PM   #16
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Not easy to pass on when on the street, but https://members.bikeleague.org/membe...?action=search lists 6 LAB instructors in Nashville.

Perhaps I should get a life
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Old 08-28-10, 06:41 PM   #17
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I would say in my city the percentage of street vs. sidewalk riders is 50/50. There is little education here about proper cycling. That goes for drivers and cyclist both. I often feel the urge to talk to these sidewalk riders and try to explain the benefits of proper cycling. But i digress, many of the sidewalk riders i observe are not what i would call strong riders. Many sidewalk riders are just trudging along, spinning about 25 rpm @ 2 mph, wobbling and appear to be scared.

So, I'm stopped at a traffic light the other day, and a cyclist from the sidewalk calls out to me. He jokingly says; "better stay of the streets. Drivers here are crazy." I replied "be careful on that sidewalk. Drivers don't see you." He asked if i was scared in traffic, so i decided to pull off and have a chat.

Granted, i noticed this guy on the sidewalk as i was passing him and sized up his style of riding as very weak. I'm not really sure that i would feel comfortable trying to talk this guy into traffic. He would likely not understand how to properly position in a lane, would probably scare/piss off drivers, not obey traffic laws, and just might get hurt.

So we chat for a minute or so, and i explain to him the benefits of riding on the street vs. sidewalk. But i left him insisting that if he chose to do so, he would need to be more aggressive and aware. Essentially, i tried to paint an image that he might not like. Now, i didn't want to purposely discourage him from learning, but i don't want to put the faint of heart out there either.

Anyone else run across this?
I don't see much of a problem. First of all, I have never been to Nashville, TN, but if it is like most other places in the U.S. the sidewalks are rarely used by pedestrians, so there is little conflict while they gain strength. Here in NYC keeping cyclists off the sidewalk is one of the few traffic laws that the police will enforce, and rightfully so--the sidewalks are very heavily used. These cyclists you describe may also be simply enjoying some recreation, as opposed to cycling for real transportation. Be patient with them.
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Old 08-30-10, 03:23 AM   #18
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that's really interesting. Since the motorists around here don't stop for stop signs or traffic lights, I try to get people on the street. My daughter's bike was totaled by a right turning motorist that didn't stop for the red light when my daughter was on a sidewalk "bike path". The students just came back, and checking for pedestrians and sidewalk cyclists, salmons, and the street is really, really difficult.
For me, the big problem is where the interstate entrances and exits are, in combination with big uphills. In those specific spots, I feel that just acting like a pedestrian is safest.
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Old 08-30-10, 07:31 AM   #19
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I was driving and waiting to make a left hand turn. My light changed to green and I started to make my left hand turn. A side walk cyclist on a cruiser w/ balloon tires came flying across the street facing traffic into my path. If she had been a walker I would have easily seen her, traveling at 10 mph coming from behind me while I'm watching for traffic coming in the opposite direction coming towards me could have been a disaster. As it was I saw her my peripheral vision as I was making the turn. I commute to work a few days a week, my wife doesn't like it that I ride on the road and thinks that sidewalks are safer. I tell her and anyone else who asks that I feel it's safer if drivers can see me and predict what I'm doing. Drivers turning, pulling out, backing up etc. do not expect to have something run out in front of them at 8-10 mph.
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Old 08-30-10, 08:19 AM   #20
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Beyond yelling at people riding the wrong way in the street I don't see a need to communicate anything with anyone.
Ride where you feel safe. As will I.
I am not fond of folks telling me where I can ride. Regardless of the street I will not tell anyone they can not ride or should not ride down a street. I may say that I will not ride down a street for whatever reason but to tell someone they can not ride down a street because it is steep, too busy, rainy, etc is moronic IMHO.
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Old 08-31-10, 10:46 AM   #21
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I would say in my city the percentage of street vs. sidewalk riders is 50/50. There is little education here about proper cycling. That goes for drivers and cyclist both. I often feel the urge to talk to these sidewalk riders and try to explain the benefits of proper cycling. But i digress, many of the sidewalk riders i observe are not what i would call strong riders. Many sidewalk riders are just trudging along, spinning about 25 rpm @ 2 mph, wobbling and appear to be scared.

So, I'm stopped at a traffic light the other day, and a cyclist from the sidewalk calls out to me. He jokingly says; "better stay of the streets. Drivers here are crazy." I replied "be careful on that sidewalk. Drivers don't see you." He asked if i was scared in traffic, so i decided to pull off and have a chat.

Granted, i noticed this guy on the sidewalk as i was passing him and sized up his style of riding as very weak. I'm not really sure that i would feel comfortable trying to talk this guy into traffic. He would likely not understand how to properly position in a lane, would probably scare/piss off drivers, not obey traffic laws, and just might get hurt.

So we chat for a minute or so, and i explain to him the benefits of riding on the street vs. sidewalk. But i left him insisting that if he chose to do so, he would need to be more aggressive and aware. Essentially, i tried to paint an image that he might not like. Now, i didn't want to purposely discourage him from learning, but i don't want to put the faint of heart out there either.

Anyone else run across this?
When they're riding 6mph I think the sidewalk is a fine place for them. VC is great, but not when you're using the bike as a walking aid. So no, I let them be.
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Old 08-31-10, 11:05 AM   #22
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in chicago it is actually illegal for anyone over the age of 12 to ride a bike on the sidewalk, so no, i've never advised anyone to ride their bike on the sidewalk.
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Old 08-31-10, 11:16 AM   #23
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When they're riding 6mph I think the sidewalk is a fine place for them. VC is great, but not when you're using the bike as a walking aid. So no, I let them be.
Yeah, if you're going to speed of a pedestrian and acting like a pedestrian while riding, then being on the sidewalk like a pedestrian is the best place to be.
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Old 08-31-10, 11:25 AM   #24
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They also give $50 tickets here for an adult riding on the sidewalk. Granted, they don't enforce it unless they see you endangering others with erratic riding habits, or if you are clearly going over 15 mph. We have wide bike lanes all over town, though.

The sidewalks are for walking, and perhaps for children to ride bicycles, tricycles, or other toys on. I can also see riding on the sidewalk if you are new to retirement, and it is the first time you've been on a bike in 40-50 years. If you are not going to ride on the road, then...why stop there? Why not just ride across people's and businesses yards? Jump your bike off people's steps? Ride your bike into office buildings and the grocery store? Hey...it is less dangerous than the street.
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Old 08-31-10, 12:16 PM   #25
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They also give $50 tickets here for an adult riding on the sidewalk. Granted, they don't enforce it unless they see you endangering others with erratic riding habits, or if you are clearly going over 15 mph. We have wide bike lanes all over town, though.

The sidewalks are for walking, and perhaps for children to ride bicycles, tricycles, or other toys on. I can also see riding on the sidewalk if you are new to retirement, and it is the first time you've been on a bike in 40-50 years. If you are not going to ride on the road, then...why stop there? Why not just ride across people's and businesses yards? Jump your bike off people's steps? Ride your bike into office buildings and the grocery store? Hey...it is less dangerous than the street.
*rolls eyes*

In every forum I join, there's always someone who's the fanatic about the topic.

Fortunately, most people are level-headed, so you can get *some* good advice. :-)
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