The Ways of the Road

A designated bike lane on road

Biking on the roadways can be a cumbersome feat to some cyclists. Sharing the roadway with motor vehicles can be a frightening experience for new cyclists, especially if the roadway does not have a bike lane or wide enough shoulder. But is it safer to ride on the sidewalk than it is to ride in the road? Should you ride on the wrong side of the road for better visibility? These are some of the arguments and misnomers beginner cyclists encounter; but I am here to set them straight! That’s what CyclingNoobie is for 🙂

In the weeks to come, I will be addressing some of these issues:
This week’s issue.

Riding your Bike on the Sidewalk vs. Road

It is a common misnomer that riding your bike on a sidewalk is a lot safer than riding your bike in the roadway. Cyclists think that while on the sidewalk, you are away from the flow of traffic – thus less likely to get hit. In actuality, sidewalks are probably one of the worst places to ride your bicycle. Vehicles are less likely to see you when riding on the sidewalk and have less time to react than if you were out in the open street. Biking on the sidewalks also presents a harmful scenario between cyclists and pedestrians as well. 

By biking in the roadway, you can be seen by motorists who are on the main roadway as well as sidestreets where vehicles would be turning in and out from. Some staggering statistics of crashes between cyclists on sidewalks vs cyclists on roadways can be found just by searching google. Here is one of them: Bicycle sidepaths: crash risks and liability exposure

I am one of those advocates who strongly suggests that biking on the sidewalks, unless you’re a child in a residential neighborhood being watched over by parents, should be avoided if possible.

One blog I found talks about her walking trips in Philadelphia where cyclists are riding on the sidewalks – The Daily Dish. Her side of the story is that all cyclists should use the roadways and never ever use the sidewalks.

In an online article, a writer in Washington DC suggests that riding on sidewalks is an option that cyclists have in order to avoid hazardous situations – TheWashCycle.

What is your view on the situation? Do you think riding on the sidewalk is tolerable or should be banned at all costs?

2 Responses to “The Ways of the Road”

  1. Great point! I have been yelled at so many times by drivers, ‘Get on the sidewalk!’ Luckily there are enough paths and nice bike lanes that we usually have a clear option, but I used to ride down prospect for work at 4 am, people pull well into the crosswalk before stopping to turn right onto the street, I’d likely have been struck if I had blazed down the sidewalk.

    Some cars treated me as another vehicle on the road and gave me room, a few shouted their disapproval, but more just zipped by dangerously close. Which I imagine has scared some people onto the sidewalks.

  2. There are larger risks to sidewalk riding that most people probably don’t even realize. What will it take for “Cyclists” to get OFF of our city sidewalks once and for all?

    Here’s a few suggestions…

    http://thumbshift.wordpress.com/2010/03/19/sissie/

    Ride Safe
    Jo

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