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Friday, March 16, 2007

Stay off the sidewalks

Signs like these have popped up in San Francisco, ever since some "fist-shaking" senior citizens started campaigning against bicyclists. Good for them.

While bicyclist behavior that annoys motorists doesn't bother me much, pedestrians are already marginalized and abused enough. I always discourage bicyclists from riding on sidewalks. As I say on my Bike Commuting Tips pages:

Many beginning cyclists think that riding on the sidewalk is safer than riding in the street. They couldn't be more wrong. Cycling on the sidewalk means you have to dodge pedestrians, pets, scaffolding, garbage cans, parking meters and signs, vehicles exiting driveways and garages, landscaping, trees and leafy debris, motorists turning off the street, pedestrians leaving buildings without expecting a high velocity traveler sharing their space, and police officers with a ticket quota to meet.
Senior citizens and pedestrians are also oppressed by motorists. They should be allies of bicyclists, not enemies. When they see bicyclists organized as an effective political force against threatening traffic, they will join in our efforts against the automotive scourge.

In the meantime, stay off the sidewalks.

Image: Marianne Skoczek
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips


Yokota Fritz said...

I absolutely share your opinion that cyclists should respect pedestrian spaces. Whenever cyclists start complaining about "them pedestrians" I try to point out that we're just expressing what many motorists express about us.

Anonymous said...

I recently started walking for exercise. I've been yelled at twice now by bicyclists ("this is a bike trail!") while walking on the "bike" trail along the river. Isn't there room for all of us and shouldn't all forms of exercise be encouraged?

Paul Dorn said...

Absolutely. True "bike-only" paths are exceedingly rare. Most off-street paths are intended for multi-use non-motorized travel. And they generally have modest speed limits of 15 MPH or less.

Inconsiderate hardcore lycra hammerhead cyclists don't belong on multi-use paths. Tell 'em to go "shred" on a road if they want to go fast. Use abundant profanity, and don't hesitate to report them to authorities.

I'm an enthusiastic bike promoter, and believe bicycling can make one a better person. But I recognize that jerks are evident in all transportation modes. You have my sympathy.