So much to write about…so little time.
September 4, 2005 I described my reasons for why I choose not to ride by bicycle on sidewalks.
Monday night I pointed out the (un)happy article “Reasons why we have sidewalks” in the University of South Dakota’s student newspaper.
Tuesday afternoon the author of the offending article left me a pretty nice response attached to the post as a comment.
Tuesday night a 12-year-old on a bicycle ran into a police car that had turned into his path, was cited and will be required to attend a bicycle safety course.
Yes, that’s right, riding a bike on a sidewalk, crossing the street in a crosswalk, collides with a police car that turns into his path, and it’s his fault. Why?
According to this news account he was cited for violating this law: “a person driving a bicycle upon a sidewalk shall stop before entering a crosswalk or highway from a sidewalk and must yield to all traffic therein.”
Do you get that? It can be argued that any contact, ever, between a vehicle and a bicycle coming from a sidewalk into a crosswalk, is the bicycle rider’s fault, because of failure to yield.
Add to that, this part of the same ordinance: “a person driving a bicycle upon a sidewalk shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian.”
Put these two laws in a pot and mix ‘em up and what do you have? A good argument that any bicycle, ridden on a sidewalk, has no rights. Any contact between the bike and a pedestrian is the bike’s fault for failure to yield. Any contact between the bike and a vehicle is the bike’s fault for failure to yield.
Sidewalks do not support efficient use of the most efficient vehicle in existence.
Do I think that 12-year-old should have been riding on the road? Not the one he got hit on, but maybe there could have been an alternate choice.
Do I think the car culture needs to change so that the 12-year-old can ride on the road? Yes.
Do I think the car culture will change? Well, there are a lot of reasons I hope for $100/barrel oil.