While children often learn to ride their bikes on the sidewalk, that does not mean it’s always a wise place for adults to bike. The reality is that riding on the sidewalk is much more dangerous than riding on the road.
This fact may seem counterintuitive, especially to those who are just starting to ride. After all, the sidewalk looks safer. It feels safer. It separates bikes from traffic. How can it possibly be more dangerous?
Here’s what cyclists need to know
The risk is that a cyclist on a sidewalk is vastly more likely to get hit by someone who is turning. Inattentive drivers only scan oncoming traffic for an opportunity to turn and neglect to completely check their surroundings. When a break in traffic occurs, they might glance at the sidewalk for pedestrians but not look far enough back or ahead for cyclists that are rapidly approaching the intersection at a pace faster than walking.
For instance, if a cyclist is riding down the sidewalk at 10 or 15 mph, a turning driver may never see them. They might check the road and the bike lane, note that they are empty and begin to turn. As they do, the bicyclist can enter the intersection and get hit by the inattentive driver.
The sidewalk feels safer to riders because of the separation, but it’s not nearly as common to get hit from behind by a car going the same way on the same street. Intersections are much more dangerous and riding on the sidewalk just increases the risk at these crucial points.
Riding on the road is safer, but you can still get injured. If you do, you may be able to seek financial compensation.