If you see someone riding their bicycle on the sidewalk, it is often because they simply feel safer being a bit further away from traffic. They know that cyclists are allowed on the road, but they feel like riding that close to cars is a major risk. Taking to the sidewalk, while unconventional, may prevent an accident, they believe.
But does this work? Or are they actually putting themselves in more danger?
You trade one risk for a greater one
It is more dangerous to ride your bike on the sidewalk and doing so means that you’re more likely to be involved in an accident. You simply trade one minor risk for a major one.
The minor risk is that someone will hit you from behind as they pass you in a vehicle. This does happen, but it’s fairly uncommon. Even when cars feel close to you, they often have enough space to pass safely. Riding on the sidewalk does eliminate this risk, though.
The major risk, however, is that someone will hit you while turning. It could be someone turning through a crosswalk at an intersection, never expecting a bike to be there or a driver making a right turn and crossing the sidewalk as they enter a parking lot.
If the bike is in the street, turning drivers tend to see it and wait when necessary to avoid a crash. When the bike is on the sidewalk, drivers simply do not see it and turn when they have a break in road traffic.
Seeking compensation for your injuries
Knowing how to ride safely can’t always prevent accidents. A negligent driver could still hit you, even in a bike lane. Be sure you know how to seek compensation for your injuries.