Borderstan Candids: Sidewalk, Not Sideride (Says a Biker)

by January 12, 2012 at 8:00 am 2,748 12 Comments

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1500 block of 14th Street NW: Sidewalk? (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Candida Mannozzi. You can reach her at [email protected].

If you live in Borderstan (or anywhere in DC, for that matter) I know this has happened to you: you’re strolling down the sidewalk, maybe on your way home from the farmers’ market, or chatting with a friend, when all of a sudden and with no sound of warning, someone brushes past you on a bicycle, startling you. They zip past, weaving in and out among pedestrians, leaving a trail of surprised, startled and often irritated folks (and pets) in their wake.

I think my friend Julie put it beautifully when this happened to us some time ago. She yelled after the biker: “It’s a sidewalk, not a sideride!”

Bikers, and I’m one of you, keep your turning wheels in the traffic lanes and leave the sidewalks to those of us walking, jogging, pushing strollers or shopping carts, guiding our children or pets.

The city has been increasing its miles of bike lanes, so use them! If, for whatever reason, you insist on riding on the sidewalk, then at least give the pedestrians you are approaching a clue that you are on their heels, OK?! Ping your bell, or shout “bike on your left/right” as the case may be.

I look at it this way: if you’re riding a bicycle on the sidewalk, you’re in a bigger size and speed category than the pedestrians. Therefore, you’re not supposed to be there. So, the least you can do, when you decide to use the sidewalk inappropriately, is to give everyone fair warning, giving folks a chance to work around you. (Editor’s note: It is legal to ride on sidewalks north of Massachusetts Avenue NW.)

Oh, and thanks for stepping up to be the nuisance du jour, it takes a special kind of courage.

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