Please Do Not Bike on the Sidewalk

don't bike on the sidewalk

A law common to most US cities.

Okay, so I’m an anarchist, and therefore not a fan of laws, lawyers, the nanny state, or other such deplorable ideas, but I am a fan of acting smart and in ways that support my fellow humans, rather than to potentially harm them.  This is the primary reason I always ride my bike in the street, unless the sidewalk is the only option. Bike safety should be important to any cyclist who wants to stay alive when riding on the city streets. This message is in the interest of preserving the safety of both cyclists and those they must interact with when navigating the cars and pedestrians in the city.

I consistently see people riding their bikes on the sidewalk, and I’ve nearly been run down by them a number of times as a pedestrian, as well as having nearly run over them a number of times as a driver of an automobile. Biking on the sidewalk is just plain dangerous.

There are at least three really important reasons that cycling on the sidewalk is illegal, cyclists.  I don’t do it.  Why?  Not because it is illegal.  Not because of the signs or laws or cops or tickets I might receive.  Because:

  1. It is dangerous to all the pedestrians. If you’ve ever known a person who was hit by a bicycle, you know they can do a lot of damage. I have known friends who were hit by cars, motorcycles, and bicycles. The ones hit by bikes had some of the worst damage. One got a broken hip. Another broke two legs and an arm. This is serious shit, people. Please don’t bike on the sidewalk.
  2. It is dangerous to you, the cyclist. When pulling out of a driveway or alley, the line of sight on the sidewalk is about one or two meters, while the line of sight to the street is usually three to nine meters. In other words, the driver pulling out can’t see you when you’re on the sidewalk until you’re right on top of him, but he can see you coming a ways off when you’re on the street. Also, the people in cars on the street are not paying much attention to the sidewalk. They should be, but they generally don’t. And when they do, they’re looking for slow-moving pedestrians next to or in front of their vehicles. They’re not looking for far-off, fast-moving cycles in their rear view mirror, or off ahead in the distance. Thus, they turn directly across the path of the cycle, possibly killing or maiming the cyclist. That’s you. Don’t you care about staying alive? Please don’t bike on the sidewalk.
  3. It is dangerous to the people driving the cars. As already mentioned, they’re not paying attention to you. When they cut across your path suddenly, they might swerve to miss you, striking a pedestrian (that’s me), or striking another vehicle. They could kill or maim any number of people at that point. Don’t you care about the chaos you cause? Please don’t bike on the sidewalk.

Okay?  See what I mean?  While I’m not a supporter of laws, I am a supporter of sanity, and of doing things that make rational sense. I am a driver, a cyclist and a pedestrian, so I see all sides of this. Today I was almost struck by the same two cyclists twice. During my walk, another cyclist on the sidewalk almost ran down a little old lady with a walker. And yet another cyclist pulled off the sidewalk suddenly, zipping right through the freeway entrance lane, and nearly getting himself killed. He had the nerve to flip off the driver that nearly hit him – a person who couldn’t even see him from the angle he approached.

The street is a far safer place to bike. I know it can be scary, especially in Los Angeles, where drivers don’t seem to give a damn about anyone not in a car. At the same time, I’ve tried both the sidewalk and the street, and can tell you that the street is far safer. The probability of someone completely failing to see me and running me down in the street is much smaller than on the sidewalk.

Please use the street.

Please do not bike on the sidewalk.

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