November 10, 2011

Sidewalk Biking and Laws

During my StrangeLaws post I failed to discuss the legality of riding on the sidewalk. The state code allows it but doesn't prevent local municipalities from regulating bicycles as they see fit:

            4511.711 Driving on sidewalk.
(A) No person shall drive any vehicle, other than a bicycle, upon a sidewalk or sidewalk area except upon a permanent or duly authorized temporary driveway.

Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting local authorities from regulating the operation of bicycles within their respective jurisdictions, except that no local authority may require that bicycles be operated on sidewalks.

It’s practically screaming for municipalities to take the bait and our fair city took the hint and prohibited the use of bicycles on sidewalks except where there are bikeways or shared-use paths. There’s a second exception is for children’s non-motorized vehicles which include bicycles with handlebars less than 30” travelling less than 5 mph, roller skates, unicycles, tricycles, etc.

The interesting thing that comes out of this is that the hipsters riding unicycles on sidewalks are probably obeying traffic laws because they’re on a children’s non-motorized vehicle. It doesn’t appear that a child has to be operating the vehicle but there is some ambiguity.

Regardless if those unicycle hipsters are legal, some people see it as the root of what’s wrong with humanity. The “asshats” and “assclowns” riding on the sidewalk create such a hazardous condition that one person suggested that there should be a “Kick over a sidewalk bicyclist day.” I, on the other hand, am nonplussed about sidewalk biking.

Should people be courteous and respectful in traffic interactions? I would love to say yes but I realize that this is America, home of the loud. Also, riding on sidewalks largely puts the cyclist at risk. If you go 10+ mph, you are going faster than what motorists would expect on the sidewalk. Additionally, the viewing angle to see a sidewalk biker, or sidebiker, is smaller than to see a street cyclist. Additionally, the sidebiker  may not realize that every driveway and curb cut is a potential intersection. Additionally, the sidebiker may run into pedestrians which would hurt both parties immensely.

I could keep going on, but I think the main point to make is that sidebiker who rides at jogger speeds greatly reduce the potential risks listed above. And if joggers can continue to scourge the sidewalks, my pro-bicyclists ways want bicyclists to have the same opportunity to be legally hated.

So lawmakers, please allow all non-motorized vehicles which operate at speeds of 8 mph or less operate on sidewalks. Then, we can hate those “asshats” and “assclowns” for their “asshole” nature rather than their lawbreaking choices. That's the American way.

Next up: More on the parking shelters

1 comment:

  1. I think it's dangerous to ride quickly on sidewalks. I wish people around campus would understand that. As a driver around campus, it's hard for me to predict where a bicyclist is going when they are on the sidewalks.

    I see people riding on sidewalks with no helmet and earphones in...I don't think that's the best idea/way to bike.

    But there are many bikers out there that do follow the traffic laws and do a great job at it.


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