Bikes Don’t Belong on the Sidewalk


Over on London Topic, Dan O’Neil has written an article in which he describes his wife’s collision with a vehicle while riding her bicycle on the sidewalk, and he tries to make a case for why such behaviour should be allowed.

Sorry Dan, but that’s completely wrong.

I agree that riding bicycles on this city’s roads is hazardous, and that something ought to be done about that. But putting pedestrians at risk by allowing bicycles to share sidewalks with us is unfair to pedestrians, and completely contrary to the widely accepted concept of a transportation hierarchy that places pedestrians at the top.

We are all pedestrians, to some degree or other. We were all born pedestrians, and walking is a ‘natural right.’ As opposed to other forms of transportation, which are simply artificial constructs.

Dan writes that he has “never been able to find a case of a fatality resulting from a bike striking a pedestrian.” It took me about 5 seconds to find THIS ARTICLE. And I have no doubt that I could find more.

I’m sorry that Mr. O’Neils wife was hurt, and I hope that she recovers quickly. And London needs people who are willing to advocate for bicycling. For that, I commend Mr. O’Neil.

But we also need strong advocates for pedestrians and public transit.

And we need a police force that does a better job of enforcing the rules of the road than what I see day in and day out.

We need to elect people who can recognize the imbalance between automobile transportation and other forms, and the terrible price that our society and the environment are paying beause of our reliance on cars. People who are prepared to say so, and mean it.


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9 Responses to “Bikes Don’t Belong on the Sidewalk”

  1. kevbo Says:

    On a daily basis I come across people biking on the sidewalks while Im walking. On many occasions I have been struck by these people riding their bikes because I refused to jump onto the grass from the sidewalk and at the extreme I have exchanged words with more than one person riding a bike.

    As someone who chooses to walk everywhere he goes (or take public transport) and as someone who at one point biked everywhere (a habit I hope to get back into) I have been on both sides of the coin.

    Bikers are becoming more and more ignorant with each passing day as they cannot seem to make up their mind whether they want to be considered a vehicle or a pedestrian, moving from the road to the sidewalk when it is convenient for them.

    As bikers can be charged with driving while impaired while on their bike that makes them a vehicle and we all know where vehicles belong.

  2. fowgre Says:

    The politicians and the police have to get serious about protecting bicyclists on the road who ride lawfully, and come down with a heavy hand with careless and reckless drivers who behave unlawfully. I simply don’t believe that they’re making enough of an effort. Driving is not a right, and if drivers have to suffer inconvenience from making pedestrians and bicyclists safe, then so be it.

  3. Erica Says:

    I was a passenger in a vehicle-cyclist collision identical to the one described ny O’Neill about two years ago in southe London. But my fiance (the driver) and the cyclist were ticketed. Something I never hear about is the trauma that the driver and passengers suffer in this situation!

    Another time I had a driver yell at me because he didn’t see me as I was walking my bike across the road (not jaywalking – I was at the light). I couldn’t believe it!

    As someone who bikes to work daily, I’m astonished by the number of sidewalk bikers, and by the number of cyclists who don’t wear helmets. I really wish London would improvce the bike lanes.

  4. fowgre Says:

    Thanks for the comment Erica. I understand what you mean about trauma. I once had a pedestrian jump out in front of my car from between parked vehicles once, and my foot hit the brake instinctively. I swear it happened so fast it was all over before I even realized what was happening. How I didn’t hit him, I don’t know. I had to pull over to the curb for about 15 min’s before I was calmed down enough to proceed. There’s lots of behaviour to crack down on, and we’d all be a whole lot better for it. Since you’re a regular bicyclist, you should keep tabs on the group of local cyclists who are trying to organize. They held their first meeting on May 9 and had about 18 people turn out. I hope to post more about it soon. In the meantime, you can contact the group by emailing

  5. josh Says:

    Thank you for the group contact.

    Have you had luck submitting video to the London Police Department?

  6. fowgre Says:

    Josh, I’ve been so frustrated by Sgt. Tom O’Brien’s reluctance to press charges against motorists when I’ve provided him with vehicle descriptions and lisc. numbers, I’m going to take my time until I’ve got a quality video. Then if he refuses to act, I’ll go before a Justice and swear out a complaint. I suspect that it’ll be a test case, so I want to make sure that it’s as strong as possible.

  7. John Leschinski Says:

    If driving is not a right, then how is biking?

  8. fowgre Says:

    John, I’m referring to ‘natural’ rights. Like breathing, sleeping, seeing, etc. Walking is a natural right. Bicycling, driving, etc. are not. They are only legislated rights, and only so long as our government chooses to allow them to be. Having said that, it’s important to note that bicycling is considered to be #2 on the transportation hierarchy, next in importance to walking.

  9. mark Says:

    In a perfect city, there would be enough bike lanes, lots of sidewalk and decent roads. However, I think that given what London is, there’s a case to be made for riding a bike on a sidewalk (not really a ‘right,’ but just ‘reasonable’ considering the dangers of biking on certain stretches of road). I think that if a bike is on a sidewalk it is up to the biker to give way to any pedestrians.

    As a general rule, I think a bike on a sidewalk should go the speed of a walker or jogger.

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