10.02.2008

Share the Sidewalk

One of my biggest pet peeves since moving to Columbia Heights is the alarming amount of encounters with folks riding bicycles on the sidewalk. Not just riding, but speeding along on the sidewalk--irrespective of whom or what else is in their way. It isn't just annoying but dangerous to pedestrians.

Despite the wonders of sidewalk cycling that have been professed, I don't understand why the cyclists in my 'hood insist on using sidewalks when there are perfectly sound streets and even a few bike lanes for their passage. I know that the DC streets are dangerous as I've witnessed and heard about countless pedestrian and bicycle accidents in DC. Taxi drivers and out-of-towners are particularly prone to ignoring traffic signals and signs and not staying within lanes. But that is no reason to transfer that risk and danger to the sidewalk and unsuspecting pedestrians like me.

So here are my simple suggestions for sidewalk cyclists:

1) Slow Down. If you want to go fast, try the street. The sidewalk should be the domain of the pedestrian. I don't mind dealing with little kids on bikes, skates, and scooters as they rarely are going fast. But an adult cyclist going several mph faster than I is ridiculous. Getting hit by a bike won't cause as many injuries as getting hit by a car—but that is no reason to put my flesh at risk.

2) Right of Way. Pedestrians have the right of way on the sidewalks. Don't even try to rush us or force us off to the side to let you by. If you feel the need to go faster, use the street. Same rule goes for those really narrow sidewalks where I have, in the past, stepped into the street to let a cyclist by. Also, in really crowded areas (e.g., DCUSA), it makes the most sense and is safer to get off your bike and walk along side it.

3) Pass on Left and Indicate your approach sooner rathern than later. I cannot count the number of times I either heard an approaching bike or heard a random "on the left" a mere seconds before having to jump aside to avoid a collision.

So, that's it. It's really simple. Please stop putting me at risk. It's not fair and I'd imagine it's not legal (or at least, shouldn't be).

1 comment:

Organica said...

100% agreement on your policy recommendations. i just know that someday i am going to be walking down the sidewalk listening to my headphones and decide to take a step to the left (heck, i don't always walk in a straight line) and a bike going too fast will hit me.