Friday, December 3, 2010

If You Were Riding the Bicycle #4 - Sidewalk Temptations

99.7% of the time, I don't ride on the sidewalk. I've got a couple of video clips, one from the summer and one from last week sometime...

When I review those clips, I find myself a little confused. Why am content to wait with the rest of the vehicles in one instance and not in another? I think the main reason is that in the first case I would have had to commit to staying on the sidewalk for quite a while because traffic was backed up, while in the second case it was more of a quick "ride around that garbage truck" kind of thing. In the first clip I was headed home from work near the end of my ride, but in the second I was going to work and near the beginning of it, so maybe the potential for lateness played a part too.

I don't believe that taking to the sidewalk is the right choice at any time, yet once in a long while I will do it anyway. When, if ever, does the temptation to ride on the sidewalk overcome you? Would you hit the sidewalk in order to overtake slow or stopped traffic?

What would you do if you were riding the bicycle?



Steve A said...

The last time the temptation to ride on the sidewalk wa right after a policeman repeated his order "get on the sidewalk." The first lightning bolt brought me back to my senses.

RANTWICK said...

Hey, I remember that post! That is not temptation... that is police misinformation!

JAT in Seattle said...

Do you think the difference between the scenarios is related to the poorer visibility in wet-dark-wintery conditions? I think I'm more clever-rodent among the dinosaurs multi-modal opportunistic when it's wet and dark and more inclined to take my place in the lane when it's light and dry.

I myself used a cross walk an then sidewalk salmoned nearly a full block yesterday rather than try to make a left turn accross a 35mph (~58kph) two lanes in each direction industrial/warehouse-district-nastiness arterial at rush hour (I also misjudged where the business I was trying to get to was exactly...)

Also the garbage truck delays are more predictable, whereas who the hell knows what is up to?

So I guess you're asking a philosophical question here: is okay for a righteous vehicular cyclist to resort to sidewalk use to get around confounding motorist blockages?

Probably... but not if it's a school bus, and I would have stopped more fully at the intersection when you re-emrge onto the street.

RANTWICK said...

JAT - Maybe so on the clever rodent dark wet thing.

regarding the missed business - yes, unfamiliar territory is more likely to land me on a sidewalk.

I don't think it is OK for the righteous cyclist to use the sidewalk, pretty much ever. Which is why I call it a temptation, a call to badness, if you will.

Steve A said...

I'd have to disagree with Rantwick's last comment, which is unusual in itself. The righteous cyclist should always consider using the sidewalk as an option - under pedestrian rules and at an appropriate level of low speed, caution, and regard for others operating under those rules. That being said, mostly I'd rather get places.

Steve A said...

I hope vernspropertyservices is giving you a kickback!


RANTWICK said...

Steve - "Under pedestrian rules and at an appropriate level of low speed" does indeed make it better, but I still think we're in slight disagreement... it is an unnerving feeling.

RANTWICK said...

I would never hire vern's... their trucks spend a lot of time stuck in traffic.

fred_dot_u said...

As a vehicular velomobilist, the sidewalk is never an option for me. It's too narrow, too rough and sight lines are almost always too poor. Even disregarding those points, sidewalk riders are too often associated in a negative manner (in my alleged mind, at least) with unskilled untrained cycling practices. Salmon riding, red light jumping and other dangerous habits go along with sidewalk riding.

I am of the opinion that my use of the roadway in a responsible manner justifies my use of the roadway in a vehicular manner. Taking the sidewalk to get around a short duration jam only to be in front of someone who later clears it does not promote cycling acceptance on the roadways.

I'm willing to take the delay, or as noted in the post, find an alternate route to remove it.

cafiend said...

A friend of mine just returned from Kyoto, Japan. He rode there with a Japanese friend. Before starting out he asked what were the cycling rules and conventions in Japan.

"Rules?" his hosts asked with quizzical looks.

He saw almost no one with a helmet. people rode on sidewalks at a cruising speed. Pedestrians accepted this as normal. In the streets he followed his local guide against traffic, with traffic, through intersections with no guiding principle except "don't hit and don't get hit."

His host does not own a car. He is retired and lives a simple life in a modest house. And he rides in a way that would freak out a whole spectrum of different American types.

I wonder if a pure vehicularist would actually gum up the works in a place with such different norms. Not that we should stop doing it where appropriate. This anecdote just broadens the perspective a bit.

RANTWICK said...

Cafiend - Yeah, I remember seeing some video from India (I think) where the busiest of intersections goes without any control features at all. People find their way.

Nice point.

Anonymous said...

Why not walk on the sidewalk? It is tacky, sure, but provides the bicycle rider full privileges in exchange for walking and not suffering the rough concrete expansion cuts.

I tend to see lots of moving traffic doing wrong and unsafely (and report a number of them). I figure I'd be spotted and issued the $110 ticket.

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