You’ve had a close call with a few cars while riding your bike. You were riding on the side of the road, but there wasn’t a designated bike lane. Drivers went by so close that you felt like you were going to get hit from behind, and one of them even honked at you as if you were the problem.
As a result, you’re thinking about riding your bike on the sidewalk. It’s less convenient, but you figure that it would keep you safer. Is this actually true? Should you begin riding on the sidewalk, following the rules for pedestrians instead of vehicles?
You may be in more danger
It’s understandable to feel safer on the sidewalk. You have some extra space between you and the nearest cars, and that seems safe. But the fact of the matter is that riders who are on the sidewalk have higher odds of being injured in accidents than riders who are on the street.
Part of the reason for this is that drivers who are turning don’t look to the sidewalks for cyclists. So someone could make a right turn through a crosswalk that they think is empty, but then they may end up hitting a cyclist who is coming along the sidewalk – and moving much faster than the driver expects.
If that cyclist had been in the traffic lane, then the impact could never have happened. The cyclist would simply have waited for the light to change and followed the cars through safely.
Additionally, it’s actually relatively uncommon for a cyclist to be struck by vehicles coming from behind them. It can happen, of course, but you’re not reducing your odds of an accident by riding on the sidewalk. You’re simply trading a less common type of accident for a more common one, thereby increasing your danger. The sidewalk provides the illusion of safety, but it is only an illusion.
Have you been injured?
Naturally, if a driver makes a mistake and injures you on your bike, you are certainly not to blame – as long as you were riding in accordance with local traffic laws. Make sure that you know what legal steps you can take to seek financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and other costs.