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August 08, 2005

Cyclists, cops, and sidewalks

The smart, informed, bicyclist knows that the worst place to ride a bike is on the sidewalk.

Sidewalks designed to be legally shared by both cyclists, and pedestrians, as part of a Class 1 Trail system, while relatively safe to navigate, give cyclists reluctant to take to the street a false sense of security, I think.

In todays OC Register, the latest HONK column, by Jim Radcliffe, begins with the concerns of a local rider of special type of bike.

I found it interesting:

Q. I ride an adult tricycle. The angle of the bike lane is rough on my suspension, so I ride on the sidewalk. Besides, motorists resent me being in the bike lane and pull some pretty scary maneuvers. As long as I give the right of way to pedestrians, is this legal?

- Rhonda Sheets, Cypress

A. In your town, it is against city code to ride a bicycle on the sidewalks. But issuing such a citation is at the discretion of the police officer.

As long as you are otherwise not breaking the law, it is unlikely that you would get much of a look. Cypress police Sgt. Jim Olson said a warning, at most, is likely.

Cyclists, by law, are considered motorists, with all the rights, and responsibilities of them.

Cities, with no sidewalks designed for shared use, are just encouraging unsafe behavior by not having, and enforcing, Municipal Codes banning cyclists on the sidewalk.

The reason cops don't more stringently enforce existing laws is that it would be too time consuming, and tie up too many officers, to chase down all the cyclists riding on the sidewalks, when there are more important miscreants to chase down.

Whether you ride a beach cruiser, a mtn. bike, a road bike, a recumbent, or an adult tricycle, you have the right to use the highways, and need to be knowledgeable about how to do so safely so that you can overcome any fear you may have of doing so.

This is especially so for users of recumbents, and trikes.

It's obvious to me that this woman is trying to find justification for avoiding using the street.

Not only is she showing a reluctance to discover other, safer, street routes to ride, but she shows a fear of motorists by focusing on what they think, and how they respond to her presense.

If she is reluctant to change her route, she should not be reluctant to take the lane when safe to do so.

Getting on the sidewalk just because all that's going to happen if caught is a tongue lashing, will come back to haunt her as cops begin to get tired of giving her warnings, and start giving her tickets.

If she is afraid to ride her bike in the right places, and learn how to do so safely, then she shouldn't be riding in the 1st place.

Cyclists get free ride on sidewalks.

August 8, 2005 in Life on the Street: Local, and state Laws, and other topics | Permalink


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> Getting on the sidewalk just because all that's going to happen if caught is a
> tongue lashing, will come back to haunt her as cops begin to get tired of giving
> her warnings, and start giving her tickets.

Getting a ticket would be getting off easy, there's lots harder ways to learn that lesson -- riding on the sidewalk is to be discouraged because it is DANGEROUS. Cars approaching from the side stop at the road, not at the sidewalk. Bikes on sidewalks are frequently going the wrong direction. Cities feel no need to maintain sidewalks to make them safe for vehicle use -- have you ever seen a "Warning: Sidewalk ends in 500ft." sign like you do for the road?

Bikes Belong -- on the Road!

Posted by: Adrian Hands | Aug 8, 2005 12:12:50 PM

I agree.

It is just so hard to convince far too many cyclists of the danger of the ordinary sidewalk, and even of Class 1 Trails set on, or next to, sidewalks.

Then you have all the Hispanic day, and night, laborers, legal, and illegal, using the sidewalk, who, if they don't speak English, it is useless to try to educate.

When city, and county, governments encourage their construction, and use, the public automatically assumes these trails, and even the sidewalk in general, are safe.

Use these Class 1 Trails if you must, but be extremely careful!

Posted by: Kiril Kundurazieff | Aug 8, 2005 6:17:30 PM

This is excellent, Kiril.

Cleverchimp posted about "One Got Fat," a bike safety film for children made in 1963. In this somewhat freaky film, children breaking the safety rules of bike riding get eliminated one by one as they ride to a local park. One of the broken rules that resulted in disabling injury was RIDING ON THE SIDEWALK. Remember, this film was made for elementary school-aged children to watch.

Posted by: Fritz | Aug 10, 2005 12:06:19 AM

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