Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bikes on the Sidewalk :-/

SFist touched on a hot topic yesterday. Experientially, there seem to be more bicyclists riding on the sidewalks these days. I've mentioned it before, but it's not a subject I feel comfortable going off on because
  • Tempers get hot, which is bad for reasoned debate
  • I like people who ride their bikes instead of driving cars, and I want more people to do more of that
But I'm 100% of the opinion that bicyclists should not ride on the sidewalk. Apparently so are a lot of SFist readers, and you can read what they have to say without getting mad at me. One comment, however, roughly sums up my opinion:
So you don't like cars, therefore you punish pedestrians?
Your logic is infallible.
I like walking around San Francisco, and I like not dying. It directly follows, then, that I want fewer people to drive, and for those that do to drive slower and more carefully. Riding a bicycle legally in the road encourages safer driving, improves bike and ped safety, discourages some driving trips and encourages other people to bike.

Riding your bicycle on the sidewalk does more to encourage the status quo of driving than would not riding a bike at all.


Dave said...

True. But I'd say bicyclist on the sidewalk are an indication the street design is very bike friendly either so they don't feel safe riding on the street. This is a sign that the bike infrastructure needs to be improved.

Pedestrianist said...

I agree wholeheartedly that bike infrastructure needs to be improved.

In fact I had intended to be more clear about that in the post, but it escaped me.

That said, I am quite sure that the solution for poor bike infrastructure is not to misappropriate our poor pedestrian infrastructure.

To say nothing of the pedestrians (which is out of character for me) riding on the sidewalk does nothing to improve bike infrastructure.

Now legally taking the full lane and slowing down Gavin's SUV on the other hand... :-)

ginevra said...

I'll only ride my bike on the sidewalk for a short stretch (less than a block) and only if I feel as though it's safe for the pedestrians (eg empty, or usually empty sidewalks) and for me. I go slowly and am very alert, but I know it's scary sometimes for someone walking.

If I see someone walking towards me, I hop off unless they have very obviously seen me.

Now, if folks jaywalking across market as they depart the bus could look up the bike lanes more often...