Don’t ride on downtown sidewalks

Local pedestrian is fed up with law-breaking cyclists

The author, a local writer, penned the June 13, 2013, CN&R cover story “Canning way of life” under a pen name.

The first time I saw a road sign with a pictograph of a bicycle and below it the command “Share the Road,” my immediate thought was, “I wish they would.” The thought that followed was, “Why worry about sharing the road with them when they’re usually somewhere forcing pedestrians to share a sidewalk with them?”

Try telling a bicyclist who rides up to you on the sidewalk downtown that they’re breaking the law and you’ll get one of two responses: “I’m doing something for the environment!” or “Do you want to me to get hurt riding in the street?” In answer to those responses: “Am I polluting the air by walking?” and “Yes, I do want you riding in the street because that would be legal and make using the sidewalk safer for me.”

A pedestrian’s choice is clear: jump off the curb and into traffic or leap into the landscaping. But bikes don’t belong on the sidewalk in downtown.

There must have been some bicycle event in my neighborhood in May because, as I walked down the street one day in front of a large apartment house, a herd rounded the next corner, ignoring minor inconveniences such as a stop sign, a truck bearing down on them and a young woman in the crosswalk. Cyclists seem to think they’re a blend of both vehicle and pedestrian, light and swift and endlessly maneuverable, able to change course in a millisecond, hurtling speedily to whatever destination desired.

If you dispute this, here’s a quote from the DMV Driver Handbook: “Bicyclists…[h]ave the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle and motorcycle drivers,” and, “Bicyclists … [m]ust obey all traffic signals and stop signs.” Good luck finding almost any cyclist following these suggestions. I’ve always thought if bicyclists could figure out how to defy the law of gravity, they’d ride straight up the sides of tall buildings.

Yet cyclists rarely get cited for infractions because there aren’t enough cops and they have more important things to do, anyway. When they break the law and get injured as a result, the complaint will be, if they’re still among the living, “Motorists just don’t see us!” When you pop out in front of them in a flash without signaling, of course they don’t.