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Please get off the sidewalk if you can.

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Please get off the sidewalk if you can.

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Old 07-09-07, 08:37 PM
  #1  
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Please get off the sidewalk if you can.

I don't want to wax A&S here - And I'm not an A&S nut in the slightest bit, but it really is unsafe to ride on the sidewalk, and it's usually unnecessary, if you can find the right route. This is kind of in response to the following post made in another thread where this kind of discussion could easily sidetrack and derail the thread's intent:

Originally Posted by mindaugas
I just started 2 weeks ago and I still ride with my hands on the brake and use the sidewalk when I can. I also pay a lot more attention in my car when I do use it and give bikers plenty of room. There are times cars pass by my and I could literally just stick my hand out, not my arm, and hit the door.
Do yourself a few favors:

1) find a local "welcome ride" - a nice slow group ride to get you comfortable to riding on the street.

2) Find some back ways to get where you need to be, or for the time being, figure out where some bike lanes and/or paths are that you can use to help you get around. Transportation by bike is different than by car. You can use little walkways between cul-de-sacs, and you can usually find some relatively low-traffic residential roads that parallel arterials, or you can ride on frontage roads found next to the highways.

3) Get off the sidewalk. I have to use it on occasion, but it's usually only when I have to climb a massive hill and there's only one narrow lane in either direction. I've also used sidewalks to travel a few hundred feet in the wrong direction on a one-way road to avoid riding around the entire city block, or used the sidewalk to go around a traffic jam caused by a wreck or an idiot trying to turn left across traffic in rush hour. You should keep the sidewalk in your arsenal of riding tricks, but it shouldn't be the first place you look to ride.

The problems are many with sidewalks:

1) Drivers pay no attention to anything on a sidewalk. They believe anything on the sidewalk is moving so slow that it must not be moving, and therefore they may ignore you as a stationary object. This means pulling into the sidewalk path while waiting to pull out into traffic, or turning from traffic across the path right in front of you, or right into you.

2) People, including little kids -- ESPECIALLY little kids -- use the sidewalk for it's intended purpose, walking. Most sidewalks aren't wide enough for everyone to use bicycles on the sidewalk, but even if the sidewalk is wide and isn't part of a bicycle or multi-use path, you should avoid riding on it. Pedestrians are slow, often distracted by cellphones, iPods, crying babies, unruly pets or other things. They don't expect to be blown by at 10 or 20 MPH by a bicycle, and they may very well stop right in front of you, or swerve into your path.

The little kids you see riding bicycles on sidewalks are a different kind of bicyclist than you. I frankly don't agree with kids riding on sidewalks near arterial roadways. Little kids should stay to riding sidewalks in residential neighborhoods. Adults riding on the sidewalk with their kids is also a forgivable offense, but they should keep a close eye on their kids, especially at intersections.

3) Bicycles are, in most places, road-legal vehicles and should be treated as such. If you, as a cyclist, won't even treat a bicycle as a road-legal vehicle, how to you expect those who see you to react when they encounter bicycles on the road? You're reinforcing motorists bad habits and view of bicycles as toys or inferior transportation just by riding on the sidewalk.
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Old 07-10-07, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by ax0n
3) Get off the sidewalk. I have to use it on occasion, but it's usually only when I have to climb a massive hill and there's only one narrow lane in either direction. I've also used sidewalks to travel a few hundred feet in the wrong direction on a one-way road to avoid riding around the entire city block, or used the sidewalk to go around a traffic jam caused by a wreck or an idiot trying to turn left across traffic in rush hour. You should keep the sidewalk in your arsenal of riding tricks, but it shouldn't be the first place you look to ride.
Agreed. There are several steep hills around here with fast/aggressive traffic where I'll take the sidewalk until things flatten out to where I can hold my own on the road. Especially at night with drunks and diplomats. And in the city it does help to be able to legally go the opposite on a one-way.
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Old 07-10-07, 11:15 AM
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You mean drunk diplomats, right?
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Old 07-10-07, 12:14 PM
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I always hop on the sidewalk if there is a big hill waiting. I see no point going 10km/h on the road when i can take my time on the sidewalk instead. Anyway, fully agree with what you posted
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Old 07-10-07, 12:21 PM
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Old 07-10-07, 01:24 PM
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Riding on the sidewalk can be done safely. I ride one block of my commute on a sidewalk every day and have done so for years. Ride slowly and give peds the right of way. It's not a problem.
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Old 07-10-07, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by littlewaywelt
Riding on the sidewalk can be done safely. I ride one block of my commute on a sidewalk every day and have done so for years. Ride slowly and give peds the right of way. It's not a problem.
This falls fully within the exceptions that OP stated.
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Old 07-10-07, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by littlewaywelt
Riding on the sidewalk can be done safely. I ride one block of my commute on a sidewalk every day and have done so for years. Ride slowly and give peds the right of way. It's not a problem.
True, but that's not what I'd call riding. I'd call it "walking while astride a bike".
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Old 07-10-07, 02:15 PM
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This thread wasn't for those who know what you're doing and ride one block or two on your commute every day. There, you're not crossing dozens intersections on the sidewalk. I'm talking about people who ride several miles, or more than half of their commute on a sidewalk. There, it's probably more appropriate to use the street for most of it, or find a different route if the street is too treacherous.
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Old 07-10-07, 03:42 PM
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I can't stand riding on sidewalks, just in some instances I haven't much of a choice.
Drivers in the past few months have become much more aggressive and suicidal on the roads.
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Old 07-10-07, 03:56 PM
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Just yesterday I rode a sidewalk for about 1/4 mile, which I hardly ever do. The extenuating circumstances were a traffic jam of multiple light cycles in a lane too narrow to safely share, with few turn-ins and no pedestrians. As fate would have it, there was a crack extending all the way across the sidewalk, about 4" wide and 2" deep, which I could not avoid hitting. Of course it jammed my chain. By the time I coasted to a nearby gas station to unjam the chain, went inside to use the bathroom to clean my hands, waiting for the person using the bathroom before me to be done, I could have waited in line through the traffic jam several times over. Serves me right, I guess.
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Old 07-10-07, 05:32 PM
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I hate sidewalks. However, I reserve the right to use them from time to time. Useful for avoiding traffic jams and to access a MUP or two. Plus when towing my son in the trailer I use a sidewalk along a very busy street and ride very slowly.
Still my motto is "sidewalks are for children and peds". I just violate it occasionally.
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Old 07-10-07, 05:42 PM
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Riding on a sidewalk can be done safely, but it's a totally different animal than riding on the road. On the road, you have the right-of-way (but you still have to look for motorists who ignore you.)

On a sidewalk, you're not considered important by motorists, whether you're walking or riding. When you're riding, you're going much faster than motorists expect, so go slow and lookout! Some motorists care more about making their turn than avoiding you. They'll turn right in front of you and expect you to stop.

The best sidewalks are alongside roads with no driveways. Be very, very careful at driveways and intersections. Look over your shoulder and ride slowly.

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Old 07-11-07, 06:05 AM
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RE the quoted original post:
if people are passing too close, you're probably too far right.
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Old 07-11-07, 06:12 AM
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Also another thing to consider is you City's laws. Technically I cannot ride the sidewalks of the City of Rochester - a fact most ignorant drivers (did they EVER read the NYS Driver's Manual?) do not know. While this law tends to go unenforced most times, it was enforced parts of last year and this year by some quite enthusiastic police (yep even yelled at me as I came out of my building, straddled the bike and rolled gently up to him to talk about the new outlook on enforcing the law - didn't think too much of him at that moment ...), when there was a lot of fighting going on out in front of my building (middle of downtown) that was attributed to the rival gangs (12-16 yr old thugs) around here.

I do not ride sidewalks - and only have jumped onto them when I'm in a traffic jam situation (dangerous) and crossing busy street sections that have expressway entrance/exits during rush hour - I've been clipped one too many times. Other than that I don't - and those times over the last many years riding have been minimal.
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Old 07-11-07, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe
RE the quoted original post:
if people are passing too close, you're probably too far right.
+1. Take the lane, especially if there are two of them in each direction. If you're far enough over, most motorists will take the effort to use the other lane, rather than to crowd the one you're using.
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Old 07-11-07, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by * jack *

ouch. that brings back bad memories.
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Old 07-11-07, 12:54 PM
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I guess I ride on the sidewalk more than I should in D.C. But I don't feel too bad doing it in front of the Executive Office Building near the White House. One reason: The police on bicycles ride on the sidewalk too. The sidewalk has been closed for a while but it's reopening after security repairs.
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Old 07-13-07, 07:27 PM
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there are too many exceptions to the statement "sidewalk riding is unsafe."

ride your own bike and save the preaching for church.
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Old 07-13-07, 08:00 PM
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OMG! I've seen the light!

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