Should You Ride Your Bicycle on the Sidewalk

An Answer from Our Knowledgeable Bicycle Accident Lawyer

Many times, cyclists opt to ride on the sidewalk because it feels safer than the road. However, riding on the sidewalk may actually be more dangerous than riding on the road. Besides, not all states allow cyclists to use the sidewalk for cycling, which any bicycle accident lawyer should know. Every state has a different legal provision for this. The general rule is to bike on the street or roads, unless you’re walking your bike, in which case you should move onto the sidewalk.

Biking on the sidewalk causes conflict between cyclists and pedestrians. And this is another hazard that causes accidents. This accident happens when you overtake a walking pedestrian and fail to see the person ahead, or you are riding too fast and hit the one in front of you.

So, can you ride your bike on a sidewalk? The answer is yes and no-there are a few situations where you should ride on the sidewalk, but there are many reasons why you shouldn’t.

Reasons Not to Ride

Hitting a pedestrian – The sidewalk is for people. Children walk here, people walk their dogs, and people come out of stores and wait for passenger utility vehicles. As you bike along the sidewalk, you are likely to speed up and hit people. Pedestrians are unpredictable. Even a car driver knows this. People text while walking, believing it is safe. They do not pay attention to their surroundings because they believe that the sidewalk is for them and not for any vehicle.

Sidewalks are also too small that they can only fit a few people side by side. If you ride your bike here, you have no room to maneuver in different situations. If you hit a pedestrian, he can sue you for physical injury. And remember, pedestrians do not move aside. It is not that they miscalculate the space, it is just that they may not be paying attention.

A car can hit you – When you’re riding on the shoulder of the road with the flow of traffic, drivers are more likely to notice you and thus less likely to hit you when making a turn. However, cyclists crossing streets from sidewalks tend to be overlooked by drivers at intersections because they expect to see only pedestrians. Therefore, riding on the sidewalk makes you less visible and thus more susceptible to vehicle collisions.

It is illegal – Some states ban cyclists from using the sidewalk, unless you are walking with it or if you are a minor. A bicycle accident lawyer will tell you that many states treat cyclists and bikes like cars, and you can get a ticket for not riding on the road. The basic expectation in these states is that you ride your bike under the same road rules that car drivers follow.

Reasons to Ride

In certain situations, it can be safer – At night and in the early hours of the morning, the sidewalks are usually empty. If the road is too dark, car drivers are not likely to see you. It is also in the early hours of the morning when traffic is so light that drivers tend to speed. In these situations, you are safer riding your bike on the sidewalk. You are less likely to injure yourself or others. If a police officer sees you, it is probable that he will let you off the hook since it is dark.

It is legal – Some states have provisions for bike pathways. However, some channels also function as sidewalks, and you can determine this through road signs. To determine whether a sidewalk is a bicycle lane, check out the list below.

  • There is a blue sign that shows a pedestrian on top of a cyclist.
  • The city map shows the sidewalk as a pathway.
  • There is a yellow line in the middle of the sidewalk.
  • The sidewalk has a drawing or symbol of a cyclist.
  • It is not crossing any road, or the sidewalk is within a park that has no other pathway.
  • The path follows the road, but there are signs that biking is not allowed on the road.

Conclusion

It is ultimately up to you to use your discretion. If you feel more comfortable riding on the sidewalk than on the road, then you should ride on the sidewalk, as long as you do it in a safe and vigilant manner. However, any bicycle accident lawyer will tell you that riding on the road is more often than not the safest way to ride, so you should get comfortable with riding on the road if you want to be a skilled and safe cyclist.

Last Updated: 03-24-2017