35 votes

I Don't Care If It's The Law.

The law says I'm supposed to ride my bicycle on the street, along with the motorized traffic, as opposed to using the sidewalk.

Well, guess what? Riding my bike on the street is dangerous. It's dangerous at night because of all the drunks, but also during the day, because people drive with so many distractions like text messaging and cellphones that even a 'sober' person could run me over.

I've already been ticketed and jailed for riding on the sidewalk but these inconveniences will not deter me. I'd rather live another day in jail than die in an emergency room cot.

The logic behind the law says that I on my bike could do physical harm to a pedestrian on the walk. I guess that's a risk I'll have to take. Better to risk that than an encounter with a truck driven by a drunk.

Sure, I could go to the city council and try to get the law changed. But the chances of this succeeding are extremely low, as the same argument was presented previously and defeated. Also, in the last two years the city has painted big pictures of a bicycle in the middle of the street indicating to drivers that they are to share the road with bicycles. Rather than helping I believe these signs hurt as they are only painted on certain residential streets, hinting to drivers that if they don't see a bicycle painted on a road then bikes don't belong there. This causes many drivers to honk their horns at bicyclers and yell 'get off the road!'

There are also 'bike lanes' on certain roads which start and end sporatically, leading to the confused but logical conclusion that bikes belong on some roads but not others.

Regardless, I care not what the law says. It is a dangerous law which I would no more follow than a law that said I had to inject a chemical or vaccination into my body. When it is dark, or when traffic is heavy, or for any other reason I choose, I will ride on the sidewalk. The law be damned.

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Get off the damn sidewalk!

By the logic you present, I might also just as well drive my pickup truck on the sidewalk at night because I too would be less apt to encounter a drunk driver driving on the sidewalk rather than in the road.

Sorry man, your bicycle is a vehicle and has the same rights and is subject to the same restrictions as automobiles. Automobiles are obligated to remain behind you in the road following at the pace you set before them, until such time as it is they may safely pass on your left just as they would any other slower motorized vehicle. If you are out in the road and going with the flow of traffic you are no more likely to be rear ended than any other slow moving motorized vehicle. If there is in fact a bike lane on a road, that bike lane has been placed there as a convenience so that you might more-so easily provide the courtesy of allowing cars to pass you yet still, your bike has the same rights to the road as cars and just like cars, your bike belongs in a lane and on the road. If bicyclists like you better understood that bike lanes are part of the shared system of the road in regards to vehicles of different speeds passing each other in the same road, things would be a hell of a lot safer for everyone.

Only use the bike lane to allow faster vehicles to pass you on the left and things will be just fine. If, while in the bike lane, you see the solid white line on your left become a broken white line, that is the road's warning that the bike lane(passing lane) is coming to an end and that you must then look over your left shoulder and merge back into a main lane. That broken white line in the bike lane is also the road's warning to drivers that bicyclists will be merging. In doing so you are at no more risk than any other vehicle in a similar merging situation. If you are then turning left at an intersection, you need to likewise be out in the middle of the road where the cars can see you signal and understand what it is you are doing and if you do so, you will be just fine.

However, should you fly off the sidewalk at three to four times the speed a driver might expect from a pedestrian possibly entering the road, cars will hit you because they won't see you; sober or not.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Do you know how to ride a bicycle?

Have you ever rode in a car?

It's fun to ride bikes and go in cars. Whee!

Pandas eat bugs.

Did you ever get learned in grammer school?

Yes, I have rode in a car. I have even drived a car. And rided on a bike too!

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Getting rode in a car is better than being road under a car...

That's all I know.

Pandas eat bugs.

How bout getting a Motorcycle or a car for cryin' out loud

It's getting to the point where I despise Bicycle riders. They ride with traffic , or they ride against traffic - up and down curbs - and in the middle of the stinking street. You can Never count on them doing anything to help the flow of traffic,but you can count on them to do everything to impede it. As a 33 year semi truck driver I worry every time I see a bike anywhere near me. Sorry,just my personal feeling.

"Get a car."

First time I've heard that one...

Pandas eat bugs.

Sidewalks are not 'safer'

Sidewalks are not 'safer' unless you slow to a walking pace. Nobody is looking for traffic moving at 15,20,30mph on the sidewalk. Furthermore wrong way sidewalk riding is even more dangerous.

Most car-bicycle collisions occur when a bicycle rider enters or crosses a road. When one rides on the sidewalk how many roads are being crossed? At each one a turning driver is a danger. Same with driveways, turning in or pulling out. Nobody is looking for things moving that fast on the side walk. If riding at a walking pace, there's not much point to bicycling.

Hit from behind is actually quite rare. Usually the driver has to be drunk and not even the side walk is safe from them. Hit from behind happens much less often. I haven't read anything in recent years but this is all covered in the crash type manual for bicycles.

Bike lanes are just a painted line and I find them to generally to be worse than having no paint at all. For a number of reasons from intersection conflicts to driver perceptions and beliefs. The wide curb lane is the ideal. It is swept of debris, there's enough space for everyone, there aren't built in conflicts at intersections.

Some of our bike lanes have no 'no parking' signs...

so often people are parked in them.

I've gotta say that your estimate of how fast someone can ride a bicycle on a sidewalk is a little off (I'd mistakenly thought someone else said this - sorry Rick).

15 mph is a good clip. 20 and you're really flying - and risking a solo accident from the possibility of coming up on something on the ground so fast that you'd have to brake quick and slide or else run off the narrow sidewalk into the grass which often is edged away or just soft dirt that can catch a narrow tire and send you flying.

I tried some speed experiments last night and got up to about 18-19 mph on a downhill sidewalk before I got nervous and slowed down. It was in a well-lit area on a nice smooth stretch, but it's still nerve-wracking to go fast on a sidewalk. At that speed I'm safer on the street because the traffic will only be going 25-30 so they're only creeping up on me at an aggregate 5-10 mph which is slow enough for them to eventually see me and acknowledge my existence.

Pandas eat bugs.

Roads tend to be faster

I have rode about 300 miles in the last week with several of those miles being highly trafficked roads in northern IL. I like roads a bit more than sidewalk because they are better cared for. Sidewalks tend to undulate a lot. I follow basic traffic rules on the road and I try to mind my own business on the sidewalks. I'm waiting for a cop to stop me for some ridiculous reason. There is a great bike path along the way that says "sunrise to sunset". I was blowing my top about how stupid that law is just before I went a broke the hell out of it last evening. Here's my advice about ridng bikes...do whatever you god damn well please and ditch any cops that feel the need to approach you. I am 99.9% sure you cannot possibly hurt anyone.

wonder what the instances of

cyclists hitting pedestrians on sidewalks is, .vs cars hitting bicyclists in the street. I know many cyclists who have been hit by cars while riding in the street (even in a designated bike lane)...I dont think I know any people who have been ran over by a cyclist while walking down the sidewalk.

I'd rather have a bottle in front o' me than a frontal lobotomy

I'll bet it wasn't in a bike lane...

Rarely is it bikes get hit in bike lanes. The times when bicyclists get 'hit in bike lanes' happen when bicyclists themselves have failed to exit the bike lane when it is bike lanes have in fact ended. Rarely is it that bike lanes continue through intersections and never to the right of right-turn lanes or even where it might be cars might turn right. Next time you see an intersection with a bike lane approaching it, take note of the broken white lines on the left side of the bike lane. That is the road's warning to the bicyclist that the bike lane is, at least temporarily, ending and that the bicyclist needs to merge back into the main road before traveling through the intersection. If the bicyclist first merges back into the main road, a car turning right with the driver focused on traffic from the left can not then blindly turn in front of a bicyclist or turn into a bicyclist on the car's right. If a bicyclist then moves forward through the intersection with forward traffic, there is no problem. Likewise, if a bike first merges into traffic to execute a left turn from the middle of the intersection as do cars, there is no problem as the bike is in plain view to drivers the entire time.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

This is from the Universal Code of Bicycling Ethics, right?

I think I read that when I was your age. It's a classic.

Pandas eat bugs.

It's happened to me a few times

Well not actually ran over, but I've been ran into by a few careless cyclists.

Two of the cities I used to live in, Boston and San Fransisco, both have a LOT of foot/bicycle traffic, and it happens quite a bit. They expect crowds of people to part like the red sea whenever they're about.

Boston has narrow roads and sidewalks, so it's bound to happen. SF on the other hand has *very* wide roads, so there's really no excuse for it.

A signature used to be here!

Living in a small town of 100,000 I don't have the direct

big-city perspective. But I did consider that most readers are or have lived in big cities where bikes are everywhere. The closest thing to what you described from Boston and San Fran is our farmer's markets. There I slow down considerably on the outlying blocks and step off when I get to the crowds. Someone in security or otherwise is bound to yell at me to do so but otherwise it's the only reasonable thing to do.

Locking up the bike and walking the rest of the way often also makes more sense than trudging a bike along through a crowd.

Whatever the scenario, it's about observation and decision-making.

Ride safe!

Pandas eat bugs.

This is probably because when

This is probably because when someone gets hit by a bike, they typically dont end up in the hospital.

To climb the mountain, you must believe you can.

No luck yet finding any specific stats with my googleyizer...

but I would reckon it has to be a very small number.

Bikes just don't have nearly the number of distractions that a driver has

-no radio
-no passengers
-no bouncy children in the back seat
-no sun visor to adjust
-no ashtray
-no lap full of food
-no cup holder (except for the bottle holder I suppose)
-no glove box to rifle while driving
-no floor to pick dropped items up off of (my cousin went off the road and rolled 3 times picking a french fry up off the floor - not a scratch on her thank God)
-can talk on a phone or glance at messages but texting is nearly impossible unless stopped

In short, riding a bike is you, the road, and hundreds of vehicles weighing thousands of pounds intend on mooshing you if you don't watch out.

The combination of (nearly) no distractions and the constant reminders of ones possible imminent make it impossible, impossible i say to hit a pedestrian unless they were to literally jump in front of you.

Pandas eat bugs.

A pedestrian 'jumping out' onto a sidewalk places blame on them?

Bicyclists tend to not be worth very much money and almost never carry liability insurance. As you travel down a narrow sidewalk at 15 mph and should a little old lady step out from behind a hedge, it will seem as if she literally jumped out at you. That little old lady is going to fall down, break her hip, go to the hospital, then a convalescent hospital, deplete her entire life savings paying for your mistake which you won't be able to compensate her for and then maybe ultimately a funeral home, which you won't be able to pay for either.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

I learned a neat trick - it's called 'looking.'

How it works is: I look ahead of myself using my eyes, and then I use my brain to determine if there is someone in front of me, and then if there is I use my hands to make the brakes work. If everything goes according to plan I am then able to accomplish the objective of not running over little old ladies hiding behind hedges.

Pandas eat bugs.

You keep mentioning these

You keep mentioning these "brakes" that you've installed on your bike that make you infallible. I'm still blown away that motor vehicles don't have such safety devices installed to bring accidents down to 0. And how does this "use my brain" stuff work? Perhaps drivers of motor vehicles could implement your bullet proof system and then you won't have to spend so much time being condescending to dumbasses on the net anymore.

I've discovered the secret to invisibility...

Just get on a bicycle and no one will see you. They'll drive right through you as if you weren't even there!

Pandas eat bugs.

Not to mention...

Not to mention the " get out of my way" syndrome that comes when someone climbs behind all of that grill and fenders to protect them. Used to get in fights with other truck drivers on the CB radio. Things changed when they were challenged to meet somewhere and get "out" of the truck. They were pretty "bad ass" behind all that steel but chickens when asked to get out. A bike doesn't create this syndrome.

If I disappear from a discussion please forgive me. My 24-7 business requires me to split mid-sentence to serve them. I am not ducking out, I will be back later to catch up.

The only 'road rage' I experience is in the winter...

when I have to battle slush, ice, and chunks of ice.

That reminds me - riding on the streets in winter is even more dangerous as cars can slide a long way, completely out of the driver's control. The sidewalks in the winter are either shoveled clean and dry, or they are uncorrupted blankets of white snow that are easier to navigate than the slush-strewn streets.

Once in an ice storm I was riding next to a car and slipped as we were going down a hill. I slid for close to 100 feet next to it with him staring at me with wide eyes as if to say 'what are you doing down there?' In retrospect it was fun.

Pandas eat bugs.

Sidewalk are designed for pedestrians...

Sidewalks are designed for pedestrians and walking traffic, hence the word WALK in in the term. If they were call "Bike lanes" then they would be designed for bikes.Yes,there are plenty of places that it would be nice or even safer to have a bike lane. But it is also true that there is not physically enough real estate to build bike lanes in some places. There is no such thing as "road stretcher". It seems that many people here look at this situation from an myopic, emotional point of view. I.E. they only see this one person in this one situation and want to make an exception for him because they are caring, good people. Let's say we make an exception for this one person then we must make it for everyone. Then you say so what. Then I say if one bike on the sidewalk is ok how about 5 or how about 10 or how about 15 when biking on the sidewalk becomes popular? What happens to the pedestrians? Do they now have to walk in the street? What happens to the elderly woman that gets knocked down by a bicyclist and breaks her hip? What happens to the child that gets her arm broken? Injuries to the elderly and children can be life threatening where a healthy adult would walk away with bumps and bruises. As the population grows so will the number of bicyclist that would be riding on the sidewalks, and the danger to pedestrians will increase at the same rate. Not being able to see beyond this one situation with this one person is short sighted and has many unintended consequences. How many pedestrian/bicycle injuries have to occur before it become apparent that riding bicycles on the sidewalk is not a good idea and has become dangerous? I feel like Cassandra from mythology when I write comments like this. I know I will be down voted by people that later on will change their minds and have to admit I was right. Maybe that will only come after they are the injured party.


deacon's picture

not that I disagree

But,some things are just plain wrong
like we park in our driveways
And we drive on the parkways
I opened up our front gate one day,and almost
picked off a person who was riding up the sidewalk
While i thought it was a bit funny,that rider didn't :)

If we deny truth before your very eyes,then the rest of what we have to say,is of little consequence

When something is sent by rail car it is called a shipment.

But if it goes by ship it's called 'cargo.'

Pandas eat bugs.

I love George Carlin

This is one of my favorite quotes

“Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

― George Carlin

I've had many years of riding, from trikes to bikes to bikes with motors to motorcycles. When you play, you pay, but don't put others at risk.


deacon's picture


I love that quote myself,heard a bunch of them
but with the passing of time,forgot who said them
This one must be a spin off from george carlin
make something idiot proof,and they will create a better idiot
He sure had a way of saying what needed to be said,and funny seems to stick
better in peoples craws

If we deny truth before your very eyes,then the rest of what we have to say,is of little consequence


First, semantics will get you nowhere in a logical conversation. Since those in wheelchairs can't "walk" are they now banned from the sidewalk? What about strollers and kids on tricycles? I can go on but I think you see my point.

Second, I can't advocate for any of your precrime nonsense. What if...? This sounds like every argument for gun control I've ever heard. Your collectivist thinking offends my libertarian principles. If someone gets hurt then we deal with the individual that hurt them just as we would if a car would injure a pedestrian.

Every point you've tried to make about how pedestrians can be hurt by bicycles are the same points the OP made about cyclists being forced to ride on the road. You've gotten nowhere... but feel free to keep telling yourself how smart you are as I will never come back to this thread to read your reply.

NOTE: I am not advocating violence in any way. The content of the post is for intellectual, theoretical, and philosophical discussion. FEDS, please don't come to my house.

It's simple...

It's simple sidewalks are for pedestrians etc, bike lanes are for bikes, roads are for motor vehicles. I am not going to split hairs with you, it is like arguing with a child.


Thanks - I'm glad to see that others like yourself see through..

these arguments that are made in long ranting run-on paragraphs that are impossible to finish reading which demonstrate that the writer has a firm grasp on the use of the qwerty keyboard and probably little else...

In another comment I believe he said that hitting someone on the sidewalk at 15 or 20 miles per hour could cause serious harm. Spoken like someone who's never ridden a bike - at those speeds I'd be on the road and relatively safe. You can't go that fast for very long on a narrow sidewalk before hitting the grass or a large crack and flipping on your head.

Pandas eat bugs.