Whenever possible, you should ride your bike on the streets and roads. I know it can be very scary to ride on the roads, especially for beginners. In some cases, it is actually against the law to ride your bike on the sidewalks. You will have to check with your state laws, city ordinances, and town municipals to see if cycling on sidewalks are permitted. Many times signs are posted on the side of the sidewalks if bike riding is not permitted on them. It might not sound right, but riding on the roads is actually more safe then on the sidewalk. This is because drivers are not looking for cyclists which causes a lot of close calls and bike/car accidents.
When To Never Ride On Roads Or Streets
There are also times when you should never ride on the streets or roads. High traffic roads that have no shoulder (cyclist escape routes) are very unsafe. Should a problem come up, such as a passing driver being too close, there is nowhere to go. Also, higher speeds gives drivers less time to react and can do more damage. Many states don’t allow bike riding on Interstates, Highways, or Expressways. So be sure to check with your local laws before doing so.
If You Ride On The Sidewalk
Sometimes you just need to ride on the sidewalk. Whether it’s because it’s just too dangerous to be on the street or you don’t feel comfortable on the roads. If you do ride on the sidewalk be sure to follow these guidelines for safe sidewalk cycling:
– Pedestrians Have The Right Of Way
Pedestrians walking on the sidewalk have the right of way at all times. No ifs or ands about it. If there is an accident on between you and a walker on the sidewalk it will automatically be your fault, in 99% of cases. Remember, sidewalks were made for walking. You are a guest on their turf so be kind to them. Whenever I have pedestrians coming towards me or passing them I always get off my bike and walk it until they are clear.
– Watch For Cars
In my experience in over 20 years of cycling, I’ve had the most close calls when riding on the sidewalks. Drivers just don’t seem to be on the lookout for cyclists on the sidewalks. I’m not sure why they don’t see cyclists when looking for pedestrians but many times they don’t. Maybe they just aren’t expecting them. Who knows…
Watch drivers when riding past business parking lots and crossing streets. This is where most accidents happen. Drivers try to make turns before the next car comes and don’t pay enough attention to see if cyclists are coming. If you are riding on the sidewalk with the street traffic going the same way I found that this is even more dangerous since drivers are always looking for cars just in front of them.
Of course, always wear a helmet no matter where you are riding. This should go without being said. Also, if you are ever in a close call never shout or scream at a driver or start an altercation. Never fight! If you are hit and injured stay calm and call the police and ambulance.
Have any suggestions or tips about road cycling or sidewalk cycling? Feel free to comment below.