Sunday, September 04, 2005

Can I Interest You in the Sidewalk? Part II

tSD wants to know: why don’t I ride on the sidewalk?

I ride my bike on the road because it is much more efficient than riding on the sidewalk. Just like automobile drivers, when I ride my bike for utility (to and from work or for errands) I’m looking to propel myself through the city as quickly as legally possible. I’m trying to get from point A to point B so that I can get my work done. Riding bike for utility is serious business…deadly serious if I happen to get hit by a car.

Not surprisingly roads exist for the very purpose of efficiently moving vehicles. The Congress approved 268.4 billion dollars recently to make roads even more efficient for travel. That’s roughly $6,000 for each average American family. This money buys a complex system of signs, lights, and laws that describe how vehicles and their operators should behave on the road to help facilitate efficient movement. In fact, the system is so complex that some public schools take time away from reading, writing and arithmetic to offer opportunities for students to learn the system. And the system is so critical that failure to follow it resulted in 115 deaths every day in 2004.

Here is what the system says about bicycles on roads:

Every person driving a bicycle shall have all of the rights and all the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle.

Here is what the system says about bicycles on sidewalks:

A person driving a bicycle upon a sidewalk shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian. 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.

On a sidewalk I’m legally required to yield to every single person I encounter, I’m legally required to stop before entering every single intersection and I’m legally required to yield to every vehicle I encounter.

On the road I get to take advantage of a traffic system put together by experts for the express purpose of moving vehicles from point A to point B.


Unknown said...

In Minneapolis it is illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk in commercial areas. Also, it is dangerous. People don't look for fast moving vehicles on sidewalks.

Anonymous said...

The big danger with sidewalk riding is that sidewalks cross a lot of blind alleys, at least around these parts. People driving cars in these blind alleys are likely to come right up to the street before stopping to look for cross traffic. An unfortunate sudewalk cyclist could easily get mashed in such a situation.