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Sidewalk Cyclists, I Honesty Think You’re Safer on the Street

by Borderstan.com — May 1, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1 Comment

"Borderstan""Bicycles and People"

It is not really easy to ride on the sidewalks. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Mary El Pearce. Follow her on Twitter@CupcakesDC and email her at maryelp[At]borderstan.com.

Bicyclers… we need to talk.

I know everyone and their tourist mother (including other Borderstan writers) have complained about people riding their bikes on sidewalk, but I want my voice to be heard as well. As a fellow bicycler, as well as pedestrian and driver, I feel I have a unique point of view on the topic.

I’ll admit, when I first moved to D.C., I rode my bike on sidewalks. Ever the goodie goodie, I did my due diligence and researched bike laws, which state that I can legally ride my bike on the sidewalk outside of the central business district, defined as 2nd Street NE and SE, D Street SE and SW, 14th Street SW and NW, Constitution Avenue NW, 23rd Street NW and Massachusetts Avenue NW.

Since it was legal in most places, I thought the responsible thing to do was ride on the sidewalk, the safer place to be versus the scary streets with the road ragers and hardcore cyclists whose shoes clip into their pedals. I ignored the scowls from pedestrians and rang my bell happily to let them know I was behind them and that they should get out of the way.

I was wrong (and not just about that annoying bell).

Turns out the streets are the much safer place to be when you’re on something with wheels — except a wheelchair, people in wheelchairs can go wherever they want and the rest of us can deal with it. Drivers are used to going around slow or stopped vehicles, and enough people ride bicycles that drivers have learned to share the roads.

When I’m driving it’s an inconvenience, for sure, to get stuck behind a cyclist, but I much prefer that to being a cyclist stuck behind pedestrians. It’s the safer and easier alternative, and you will avoid having random people develop rage anger against you, as I did the other day when a cyclist almost hit me on the sidewalk and I shouted behind him, “Watch where you’re going!”

Of course he was gone before I could do anything more than shake my fist at him, which is why I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you not to be inconsiderate and keep your bike on the street.

That also goes for Segways… don’t even get me started.

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Comments (1)

  1. Cyclists should ride more slowly and communicate with pedestrians if they are going to ride on sidewalks. DC still has a long way to go until all streets are safe, but Mayor Gray’s plan to radically increase the number of speed cameras on streets will help get us there (and raise revenue!). No motorist will deny that there a still too many reckless drivers on our roads, the reckless ones are enough of a danger to other motorists, it’s no contest when those vehicles come in contact with cyclists and pedestrians. It’s important not to be reactionary to particular incidents and think about ways to encourage everyone to be considerate when sharing public spaces.

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