What! You ride on the street, not the sidewalk?!!

My coworkers think I’m nuts because I ride my bike to work. But when I tell them that I ride on the streets, and not on the sidewalks the expression on their face is priceless…

So I did some searching and I found this great article on the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin site. Here are some of the major points of the article:

Sidewalks are intended for pedestrians
When bicyclists are allowed to use sidewalks, the bicyclist must yield to pedestrians and give an audible warning before passing pedestrians traveling in the same direction. When crossing a street at an intersection, bicyclists using sidewalks are treated similarly to pedestrians.

The facts
A four year study in Madison found that 30 percent of reported bicycle crashes with cars involved a bicyclist who had been riding on the sidewalk. In over 70 percent of these crashes, the bicyclist was riding against the flow of traffic in the adjacent street.

A five year study of bicycle crashes in Neenah has similar results, 60 percent of the crashes were sidewalk related and 75 percent involved a wrong way bicyclist.

On Grand Avenue in Wausau bicyclists are prohibited from riding in the street and thus are forced to use the sidewalk. Ninety percent of bicycle crashes at Grand Avenue intersections involve wrong way bicyclists. Click here to read the entire article

I can reach speeds of 18 mph on my straight line-flat commute. Riding at that speed is basically suicidal on the sidewalks. The times that I had to use sidewalks I really had to pay attention to pedestrians, pets, trash, people backing out of their driveways, other cyclists, cars blocking the sidewalk, etc, etc..

So yeah, I ride the streets, only because it is SAFER.


  1. HenryH

    Yep, sidewalk riding is dangerous in general. League of American Bicyclists also recommends/teaches against riding on the sidewalk. I generally ride on the streets with few exceptions, and even then, I ride no more than 5 miles per hour… about the speed of a fast jog. The exceptions for me includes: narrow bridges, starting a ride with a short distance to the crosswalk, section of the sidewalk with a wall on the side, etc. Use your best judgment and proceed with caution if you are going to use the sidewalk.

  2. Nick

    Reach speeds of 18mph? I hope you can get going faster than that, dude!

  3. Moe (Post author)

    I usually don’t go past 18 mph on my commute, only because I’m on the lookout for dumb asses that will open their doors or make a right/left turn in front of me.

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