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Polling Beliefs about Bicycles on Roads and Sidewalks

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Polling Beliefs about Bicycles on Roads and Sidewalks

Old 02-13-23, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by UnCruel
While you guys are debating the laws of physics that apply theoretically, don't forget to check in with reality.

What really happens when a cyclist collides with a pedestrian: someone gets hurt.
What really happens when two pedestrians collide: "Oops. Sorry."

I am honestly surprised that this debate is even taking place here. I thought it was only non-cycling drivers that needed education about the rules of the road.
Since I'm the one who mentioned kinetic energy, I'm going to take that dumb shot personally.

There's nothing theoretical about the physics here--the physics are why the bicyclist hitting the pedestrian causes so much more injury than the pedestrian hitting the pedestrian. That's apparently counter-intuitive for some people, hence the explanation.

In reality, pedestrians don't get hit by bicyclists enough that people have any understanding of what can happen. That's because almost no one rides bicycles on sidewalks. I guess you missed the part of my post that suggested the layout of sidewalks makes it easier to collide with pedestrians than on roads.

And just so you know, in some states, the "rules of the road" allow adults to ride bikes on sidewalks. You must be new here if you haven't seen someone defend sidewalk riding on this forum before. I won't do it, but I'm not going to tell other people not to do it when I don't ride where they ride. Several people have stated on this forum that sidewalk riding is normal in parts of Florida, for example.
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Old 02-13-23, 03:49 PM
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Here's a place where I will ride on the sidewalk. I've tried it on the road, my 25mm tires don't care for it. Definitely scary when wet.

https://www.google.com/maps/@42.8159...7i16384!8i8192

I do ignore this sign, however:

https://www.google.com/maps/@42.8140...7i16384!8i8192

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Old 02-13-23, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions
In reality, pedestrians don't get hit by bicyclists enough that people have any understanding of what can happen.
Even a cursory search on the term "pedestrian hit by bike" brings up some significant numbers, with one article stating 2,250 pedestrians were struck by bicyclists between 2011 and 2019 in New York City alone, with 7 reported fatalities. It's not clear how many were on sidewalks, in crosswalks or on streets, or on pathways, but it's not a trivial crash risk. I don't have research data handy, but I recall class materials from earlier cyclist skills training that noted that bike-bike and bike-ped crashes comprised a notable percentage of bicyclist injury crashes not involving a motor vehicle in transit.
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Old 02-13-23, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by RCMoeur
bike-bike and bike-ped crashes comprised a notable percentage of bicyclist injury crashes not involving a motor vehicle in transit.

The issue with a statement like that is that the car vs. pedestrian and the car vs. bicycle numbers dwarf all bike vs pedestrian and bike vs. bike numbers.

Basically the number of pedestrians hit by motor vehicles in NYC in any given year is 3-4 times that bike vs ped number for 2011-19. If you're using the NY Post as your source, of course they are going to make it sound so grim. 2250 over 8 years in NYC is actually a relatively trivial number, especially when there's no reason to assume that most of those resulted in major injuries.
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Old 02-14-23, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions
From the standpoint of the pedestrian, you are wrong here.
Even if the weight is identical, the kinetic energy of the bicyclist going 10-15 mph is much higher than the pedestrian going 3-4 mph. Forcing bicyclists to ride at walking speed would be absurd, no one would keep to it. Also, sidewalks are not generally constructed with sightlines when entering in mind. For example, a pedestrian may be emerging from a door that exits directly onto the sidewalk, or stepping out from behind shrubbery. Finally, pedestrians often have strollers, walkers, canes, etc. that make it difficult for them to dodge bicycle traffic. Sidewalks are designed for a walking pace, anything that goes faster is really out of place there.
On a sidewalk or MUP that is congested a cyclist SHOULD NOT be riding 10 to 15 mph or more. Respect the rights of others.
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Old 02-14-23, 01:25 PM
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Check when the city of Palo Alto in California banned bicyclists from using the streets and forced them to use the sidewalks. The increase in bike and pedestrian collisions that resulted forced the city officials to reverse their ban.

It comes down to expectations and someone walking out of a store to the enter the sidewalk public space is not expecting a 10+ mph bicycle and so will walk into their path. Same thing happens all the time even with pedestrians walking on shared use bike paths where the walker is busy talking to a friend or checking messages on their phones and not paying attention to what is around them or approaching from any direction. The old phrase about someone not being able to walk and chew gum at the same time applies to 100% of people when engaged with a cell phone.
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Old 02-14-23, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Calsun
Check when the city of Palo Alto in California banned bicyclists from using the streets and forced them to use the sidewalks. The increase in bike and pedestrian collisions that resulted forced the city officials to reverse their ban.
When was that? I "checked" and could not find any information about this ban.
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Old 02-14-23, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by rydabent
On a sidewalk or MUP that is congested a cyclist SHOULD NOT be riding 10 to 15 mph or more. Respect the rights of others.
So not the point. Even if it's not congested, sidewalks are full of blind corners and crossings where pedestrians can just step right out in front of you without warning.
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Old 02-14-23, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Calsun
Check when the city of Palo Alto in California banned bicyclists from using the streets and forced them to use the sidewalks. The increase in bike and pedestrian collisions that resulted forced the city officials to reverse their ban.
Citation needed. I lived in Palo Alto for several years and never heard of such a thing.

I lived on this street-please tell me how you were supposed to ride on the sidewalk there.

https://www.google.com/maps/@37.4176...7i16384!8i8192

Pretty sure you're misremembering the origin story of John Forester.

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Old 02-20-23, 03:37 PM
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Where I live the laws are pretty clear. No bikes on sidewalks in the downtown area, otherwise you are allowed to ride on the sidewalk. Cyclists are also afforded all laws for the road (and must abide by them btw) and are urged to ride on the road whenever it is safe to do so.
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Old 02-20-23, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions
Citation needed. I lived in Palo Alto for several years and never heard of such a thing.

I lived on this street-please tell me how you were supposed to ride on the sidewalk there.

https://www.google.com/maps/@37.4176...7i16384!8i8192

Pretty sure you're misremembering the origin story of John Forester.
I lived in Palo Alto when the ordinance was passed. I also worked with the non-motorized traffic (bicyclists and pedestrians) group at the then Division of Highways and I covered all 58 counties in terms of bicycle planning from the inception of this function. This has nothing to do with John Forester who became an advocate for safe bicycling behavior and routes. The Division of Highways and city and county engineers created many extremely dangerous bike lanes that put bicyclists unexpectedly in the path of automobiles. One prime example was when the Golden Gate Bridge would have one side closed and so bicyclists had to cross Highway 101 north of the bridge which I found myself having to do to get to San Francisco on my trips to Pasadena.
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Old 02-20-23, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Calsun
I lived in Palo Alto when the ordinance was passed. I also worked with the non-motorized traffic (bicyclists and pedestrians) group at the then Division of Highways and I covered all 58 counties in terms of bicycle planning from the inception of this function. This has nothing to do with John Forester who became an advocate for safe bicycling behavior and routes. The Division of Highways and city and county engineers created many extremely dangerous bike lanes that put bicyclists unexpectedly in the path of automobiles. One prime example was when the Golden Gate Bridge would have one side closed and so bicyclists had to cross Highway 101 north of the bridge which I found myself having to do to get to San Francisco on my trips to Pasadena.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding of the Palo Alto ordinance was that it banned bicycles from the streets that were paralleled by so-called sidepaths (not sidewalks, per se). That was actually a small number of streets, so the ordinance didn't actually send bikes to sidewalks on most streets. There's also a lot of streets in Palo Alto that don't have sidewalks at all.
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Old 02-20-23, 11:21 PM
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I suspect a large percentage of drivers want cyclists off "their" roads, they don't care if it's a sidewalk per se. But that's probably considered a socially incorrect answer so they might not be truthful if asked by a pollster. Some may sincerely believe it's for cyclist's own safety -- that might be a good question ("where do you think it is safest to ride a bike?"). I doubt they consider pedestrian safety relative to bikes.

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Old 02-21-23, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by work4bike
...if people continue to show fear in riding on the roads....
Some roads are worthy of fear.

Originally Posted by work4bike
...we are lawful vehicles on the roads....
Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD.

One 6-Lane highway in particular (and a couple of 4-Lane roads) in my community would be suicide in a travel lane. People use the sidewalks or meander the back streets to avoid those roadways. It is perfectly LEGAL to ride a bike on them, but literally NO ONE in my community is stupid enough to do it. We have plenty of cyclists here of all types and capabilities. Even the hardcore roadies avoid those roadways.

If I were one of those cyclists with "something to prove" to motorists, then I would be certain that all my affairs were in order before proving my point on those roads.
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Old 02-21-23, 11:06 AM
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I ride on these "dangerous" roads daily, 4-lane road with no pavement to the right of the fog line and a speed limit of 45-mph, meaning they're going at least 55. The vast majority of other people on bikes along this road ride on the sidewalk.

The sad fact is, if I and a few other cyclists never rode their bike on these type of roads, then it would become de facto law that cyclists are not allowed on roadways. That's just human nature.


BTW, I'm really glad that mirrors don't suffer from overuse by looking at them


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Old 02-21-23, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by work4bike
BTW, I'm really glad that mirrors don't suffer from overuse by looking at them
.
No joke! Not to start some mirror debate (again) but I couldn't drive or bike without at least one mirror. In fact, often while walking I am looking for my mirror. Walking against traffic (as required by law here) eliminates the need for mirrors.
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Old 02-21-23, 01:15 PM
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The funny thing is that when I first started running years ago, I would occasionally look at my watch, but as I looked down my brain automatically switched to "Checking the Mirror" mode, thinking I was checking my Six O'Clock, then having to realize I was checking my pace or distance....I eventually retrained my brain, but it still happens, once in a while to this day, especially if I haven't ran in a while



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Old 02-21-23, 05:40 PM
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I don't know if you found any polls, or are considering starting one, but I suspect that either way there will be issues of selection bias and other skews.

Polls often have skewed results either intentional or not, based on which questions were asked, how they were phrased and who was asked.

I imagine that if you asked the mom of young children about riding on the sidewalk and then an older person in NYC you'd get very different answers. The problem is that polls tend to posit things in binary terms, but life is more nuanced and often, neither answer is right.
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Old 02-22-23, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
I don't know if you found any polls, or are considering starting one, but I suspect that either way there will be issues of selection bias and other skews.

Polls often have skewed results either intentional or not, based on which questions were asked, how they were phrased and who was asked.

I imagine that if you asked the mom of young children about riding on the sidewalk and then an older person in NYC you'd get very different answers. The problem is that polls tend to posit things in binary terms, but life is more nuanced and often, neither answer is right.

I used to argue with people on BF who would explain why they were riding on sidewalks, now I only do so if they try to argue that everyone else should and/or if they claim that sidewalk riding is generally safer than riding on the road. I just think people are better judges of the safest way to ride where they do than I am.
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Old 02-22-23, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
I don't know if you found any polls, or are considering starting one, but I suspect that either way there will be issues of selection bias and other skews.

Polls often have skewed results either intentional or not, based on which questions were asked, how they were phrased and who was asked.

I imagine that if you asked the mom of young children about riding on the sidewalk and then an older person in NYC you'd get very different answers. The problem is that polls tend to posit things in binary terms, but life is more nuanced and often, neither answer is right.
I have not found any polling data. I am definitely not in a position to initiate one. (Am I? Hmm.)

Skew resulting from phrasing is probably inevitable, but I would be okay with it as long as the phrasing supports supports the question I'm really interested in, which is twofold:
  • How prevalent is the misconception that bicycles do not belong on public roadways?
    • Among drivers
    • Among members of law enforcement organizations
  • Is that prevalence significant enough to justify an active education campaign?
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