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Old 10-24-11, 09:23 PM   #1
crashmo
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What's up with the lack of sidewalks??!

I grew up in Wyoming and Colorado, and we always had sidewalks. Even in my hometown, which is fairly low-rent (Laramie) we had tons of sidewalks to ride on, and the roads were nice and wide.

What gives? Here in the south, our roads are super narrow, curvy, and feel just plain dangerous. The only sidewalks are in city centers, which 'round here don't exist unless you go to Atlanta, Alpharetta, etc.

How do you SE guys/gals ride on the roads??!
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Old 10-25-11, 06:24 AM   #2
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A bicycle is a vehicle. Vehicles use the road.
Sidewalks are for pedestrians. It is illegal to ride on the sidewalk in some communities.

If a road is too narrow to safely share with cars, take the lane. That means ride near the middle or just to the right of the middle so cars must change lanes or cross the yellow line to pass.

Go here for info about riding safely in traffic.
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Old 10-25-11, 07:28 AM   #3
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You'll get used to narrow road riding - sort of. Drivers will buzz you, yell, and throw beer at you, but they'll rarely stop (no one wants to get beaten up by a guy in spandex ). After you've ridden around a while, you'll figure out the better routes and times to ride, and you can find some good ones here in the ol' South.

And a warning about bike lanes here. We only have a few marked/adjacent lanes here in the Birmingham suburbs, but you'll often find them littered with broken glass. And they've also marked some lanes downtown on the city streets, but right next to the curb parking, so getting door'ed is a definite issue. Share the Road signs are going up in many places, and I hope that ends up being a help - not a further annoyance. But they are trying a little. Not sure if Atlanta has the same problems.

But sidewalks are mostly for kids on their 12" bikes with training wheels. If you do ride on them, you're supposed to go at the speed of pedestrians.
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Old 10-25-11, 04:35 PM   #4
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Good info guys, thanks! I really just need to get used to the narrow roads...
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Old 10-25-11, 04:38 PM   #5
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Go here for info about riding safely in traffic.
Awesome. Thanks!
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Old 10-25-11, 04:55 PM   #6
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If it makes you feel safer, cars will always pass too closely and/or too fast, even if the road is super wide. It's just an ATL thing.
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Old 10-25-11, 07:01 PM   #7
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Another Birmingham, AL guy here. Grew up in Mississippi and Memphis. The good thing is that even in most cities you can find some great rural roads with very few cars and nice scenery. You do have to do a little homework in some areas, but I haven't found a single place in the Southeast that I couldn't find 4-5 really nice 50 mile rides that I really enjoyed. I have ridden in each state except SC and LA, but I can vouch for every other state in the SE. You can also ride year round without any issue. The heat can be tough on some, but I will take 100 over 10 any day.
The downsides are the drivers and some areas of bad roads. I don't take any route where I am going to have car after car buzzing me every ten seconds. I maybe have a honk from a car once a month and someone yell something once a year or two. The problem is the idiot drivers that drive looking at their Iphone texting or whatever else they do. This is why I love going out on rural rides where 10 cars might pass me on a forty mile ride. JMO and a few of the reasons I like riding in the SE.
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Old 10-29-11, 08:56 AM   #8
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Another Birmingham, AL guy here. Grew up in Mississippi and Memphis. The good thing is that even in most cities you can find some great rural roads with very few cars and nice scenery. You do have to do a little homework in some areas, but I haven't found a single place in the Southeast that I couldn't find 4-5 really nice 50 mile rides that I really enjoyed. I have ridden in each state except SC and LA, but I can vouch for every other state in the SE. You can also ride year round without any issue. The heat can be tough on some, but I will take 100 over 10 any day.
The downsides are the drivers and some areas of bad roads. I don't take any route where I am going to have car after car buzzing me every ten seconds. I maybe have a honk from a car once a month and someone yell something once a year or two. The problem is the idiot drivers that drive looking at their Iphone texting or whatever else they do. This is why I love going out on rural rides where 10 cars might pass me on a forty mile ride. JMO and a few of the reasons I like riding in the SE.
I moved to SC from WI a few months ago and was shocked to find roads with no shoulders and few to no interconnecting sidestreets to utilize in avoiding the busy traffic. There simply are no effective and safe options...a poorly designed infrastructure for sure. That said, rural riding is as good as anywhere else. And of course you don't ride on the sidewalk although I have seen a few cyclists on sidewalks simply out of self-preservation. And pedestrians are screwed here too...gotta walk in the road more often than not, dodging the cell phone & texting idiots.

Basically, utility cycling is out until I can move to somewhere that's more bike-friendly. What good are more warm months per year if you can't ride without fear of getting clobbered. Three cyclists have been struck and killed in my first 10 weeks here, one of them a 48yo pastor and father of two kids. Compared to the midwest, SC blows.
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Old 11-01-11, 05:38 AM   #9
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OP, you grew up in the incredible wide-open spaces. The Southeast is not like that. Many back-roads actually follow Indian-trading-paths or deer paths.

Riding on the sidewalk, above a particular age, is unlawful in most states. Also, do a little research, scouting about on the big interweb, and you'll find that you are more likely to have an accident while riding on a sidewalk than while riding on the road. Cars expect "traffic" on sidewalks to moving at 3 to 5 mph; bicycles will be moving at 10 to 15 mph; the difference can be traumatic ... to the bike rider.
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To previous post: get out of the city and onto the country roads for "exercise" or recreation cycling. As for utility cycling ... without knowing any facts ... I cannot comment.
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Old 11-15-11, 07:34 PM   #10
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I am in Southwest Georgia in a medium sized city where I have lived most of my life. I have always noticed the lack of sidewalks in the city, but it wasn't until I was studying Sociology in college that I began to formulate my own hypothesis of why there was such a dearth of them. I believe it is an attempt (a fairly successful one might I add) by the powers-that-be at minimizing the ability of "riff-raff" to travel from one neighborhood to another. By "riff-raff" I mean minorities. Typically those with the means to travel do so by car, and have no need to walk. Those who cannot afford a car should stay in their own neighborhood because they won't contribute much to neighboring communities anyway, or so goes the mentality.
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Old 11-15-11, 07:55 PM   #11
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^

Since many mid-western locales with historically no minorities also are without sidewalks ... I think your conclusion is a FAIL.

I suspect the FAIL is due to too narrow an experience base.
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Old 11-15-11, 08:06 PM   #12
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No sidewalks here, either... not that you'd want to ride on them if there were, but there's not even any bike infrastructure either. This is a large part of why I am probably going to give up commuting until I move to a more civilized part of the world. Southern Louisiana certainly isn't it.
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Old 11-16-11, 04:21 AM   #13
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^

Since many mid-western locales with historically no minorities also are without sidewalks ... I think your conclusion is a FAIL.

I suspect the FAIL is due to too narrow an experience base.
Such as? What state(s)?

I have biked in most parts of Wisconsin (where I'm from), and with friends in many areas of MN & MI (both lower and upper). I assure you, sidewalks are the norm, not the exception.
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Old 11-16-11, 06:38 AM   #14
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I guess our city is one of few that has some sidewalks that are marked on the left as bike and on the right as pedestrian. So, I have to assume it's not against the law to ride on those sidewalks. They are fairly wide as well. I've seen these next to really busy roads where there is no room for riding on the road without being out in traffic. Fortuanately, we do have lots of roads that do have the bike lanes. However, I have found that you have to be really careful if you choose to ride on those sidewalks through intersections and across driveways.
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Old 11-16-11, 04:06 PM   #15
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^

Since many mid-western locales with historically no minorities also are without sidewalks ... I think your conclusion is a FAIL.

I suspect the FAIL is due to too narrow an experience base.
Every community has minorities.
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Old 11-28-11, 07:28 PM   #16
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Do you plan to respond or do you admit defeat? GIMME A MANSWER!
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Old 12-01-11, 07:53 PM   #17
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There are no sidewalks in the south because the majority of the people in the south are fat, lazy, ********.
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Old 12-11-11, 04:27 PM   #18
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Florida

Sidewalk riding is legal in Florida, where the older roads are usually pretty cramped and crowded, especially during the nice winter weather. Newer roadways usually include bike lanes, but they don't seem to ever get cleaned.

Roadies will get out with the cars, but nost commuting is sidewalk for safety. I've seen more than one driver texting with both thumbs and both eyes on the screen. Real easy to drift a foot or two to the right doing that! Our car vs. bike horror newstories seem to come in waves and generally the driver was unlicensed or old enough that their competency is suspect.

Lots of downtown areas have local ordinance to keep bikes off sidewalks out of the way of shoppers and diners, but who would want to ride there, anyway??
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