Cyclists have seen the bike accident statistics. They've been in traffic. They know how dangerous it is to ride next to 3,000-pound vehicles, and they know that drivers don't always like to share the road.
Some have speculated that it would be safer to get on the sidewalk. It's not meant for bikes, but would it reduce the risk?
It certainly could, in some ways, but it just opens up new risks. Specifically, there's one huge reason why bikes may be more likely to get hit: Drivers don't expect them to be there.
You think of the sidewalk as a separate area, but the reality is that cars cross sidewalks all of the time. They do it when leaving parking lots and driveways, for instance.
When a driver is backing out of the driveway, he or she will look at the street to check for bicycles and other cars. The driver will look at the sidewalk to check for pedestrians.
What that driver won't do is stop again at the edge of the sidewalk. The car will just roll right over it and stop at the road. The driver never expects a bike coming down the sidewalk at 20 mph, and a collision may be nearly unavoidable.
Cyclists need to think about sidewalks with a driver's mindset. For that driver, it's just a thin patch of driveway. Nothing more. Drivers don't think twice about pulling over it, and they're often going backward -- with limited visibility -- when they do.
If you're hit while trying to follow the laws and ride in the street, you must know what legal rights you have to seek compensation from a negligent driver.
Source: Bike to Work, "3 Reasons to Not Bicycle on the Sidewalk," Kwin Peterson, accessed Sep. 01, 2017