Should cycling on the pavement be legal?
Yes, completely
31.5% (73)
31.5% (73)
Yes, under limits as described here
25.9% (60)
25.9% (60)
No, it
39.7% (92)
39.7% (92)
I don
3% (7)
3% (7)
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Poll: Cycling on the pavement / sidewalk

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Edit - crap - what happened to my poll options? Trying again... Well, that sucks. Ok, well, the third option was supposed to be 'No, it's always wrong' and the fourth one was 'I don't care either way'. Tch.

As a daily cyclist this is a subject that bothers me a lot, and for some reason it's one that seems to inspire very strong feelings in general. And as I got tutted at today, I thought I'd pass it by others. (tl;dr version: cyclists should be allowed to ride on pavements within reasonable limits)

So, in most countries if not all, cycling on the pavement is illegal (note to Americans: UK 'pavement' = US 'sidewalk'; US 'pavement' = UK 'road'). The logic of this is that a bicycle is a vehicle, and vehicles belong on the road, but it's always seemed to me that this is more of a cultural convention than a logical position - after all, by the same logic wheelchairs should also be banned, and electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters even more so (trust me, those mothers can move!)

Suggest that bikes should be allowed on pavements and people throw their arms up in horror. But those crazy cyclists! They'll be knocking people down left right and centre, and there will be carnage. But I have two answers to this. Firstly, the image people have of reckless cyclists is far in excess of the truth. Sure, most cyclists do occasionally or even regularly break the law - jumping red lights or nipping on to the pavement. But injuries and accidents due to reckless cycling are very rare. According to figures on this page, out of 51,192 injuries to pedestrians in the UK over eight years, there were just 18 deaths and 434 injuries from cyclists. Even taking into account the smaller number of bikes on the road, that's a pretty trifling amount.

The fact is that cyclists are far more at risk from others than any risk they cause. In fact, in my experience most of the time the principal reason for a cyclist to break the law is for their own safety, such as jumping a red light to get ahead of the traffic.

The second point is that there is a simple solution, which is to change the law to allow cycling on the pavement with the following provisos (which are also my own personal code of conduct when cycling on a pavement myself):
1) A speed limit of, say, 10mph on any pavements with doorways that open directly onto them.
2) An absolute right of way of pedestrians over cyclists. If people are in your way, you have to wait. And no furious ringing of bells either.
3) An assumption of liability in the case of accident. Any unintentional collision between a cyclist and a pedestrian is automatically assumed to be the cyclist's fault.

Under those conditions, I believe that a change in the law would not only be fair, but would save lives, by allowing cyclists to avoid dangerous traffic areas without fear of prosecution. And they would also not clog up the pavement, because the speed limit would encourage cyclists to keep to the road whenever possible, just as they do now.

And no one would be allowed to tut at me any more.

Yadda Yadda Cyclist are all perfect special snowflakes. I have witnessed a cyclist run over as kill a man riding on the pavement. According to the police report he was doing over 25 miles an hour down a steep hill. Last week on dual use tunnel another person knocked over and had their ribs broken by a cyclist going to fast. The truth is there far too many selfish cyclists for it to be safe to allow them to use the pavements.

How are you going to get assumption of liability to work? Assumption of liability without insurance is pointless, if you have no money to pay damages for accident, liability is meaningless. So you would need a national cycle registration system with legal mandated insurance, the same as cars, without which liability is meaningless. To pay for the costs of such a scheme a tax would have to be imposed on cyclists or due expect everyone else to pay for things just for cyclists. Also you would need a new ranges of criminal offences to deal with uninsured and dangerous cyclists.

I only use my car once a week to do the shopping in the rest of the time I walk and I am really sick and tired having take evasive action around self centered morons in lycra screaming along the pavement to avoid having stop at a traffic light. I am regular user of narrow footbridge which has signs at either end that say no cycling but because its convenient they all scurry over and I'm fed up to back teeth at being sworn at for not getting out their way fast enough.

I'm going to go for yes but with restrictions here, I don't think bombing it down a pavement should be legal but there are good reasons one might be using a pavement, for example riding it fairly slowly across a stretch of pavement to reach another road, or supervising your child who is riding slowly on a quiet patch of pavement. Seems like overkill to me to ban all cycling, better just to ban cycling above a certain low speed or in high densities among people.

The speed at which cycling amongst pedestrians on the pavement would be safe would render cycling pointless, as it would be better for the cyclist to walk with their bike.

Even 10mph, compared to walking speed, is too much to allow a vehicle with the dimensions, mass and construction of a bike to travel safely on a pavement, yet at lower speeds a bike is less stable, making it a more of an obstacle than is really permissible for a pavement.

I really don't see the point, as allowing bikes to travel on the narrower pavements at safe speeds would just cause more obstructions and if they have to slow down and give way to pedestrian, the constant stopping and starting and having to give way would mean that it would be quicker to walk, not to mention that the only other method of maintaining a decent speed whilst giving way to pedestrians would be to suddenly move onto the road, then back onto the pavement, then back onto the road every time a cyclist encountered a pedestrian, which would make them a random hazard to both road users and pedestrians alike.

Also, you can't really compare bicycles to wheelchairs and mobility scooters, as bikes are a choice which allow able bodied people to travel at far greater speeds than walking, whereas the latter are the only means for disabled people to travel at all. You could use the same broken logic to argue that you should be allowed to ride your horse in the supermarket because they allow guide dogs.

Finally, I don't think citing an average 2 deaths and 54 injuries a year caused by cyclists to pedestrians is a good point in favour of letting people cycle on pavements, in fact I'd say that the proven fatal and hazardous risks of allowing people to cycle on pavements is good enough reason to keep them off pavements permanently.

Flatfrog:
And as I got tutted at today,

You got what now?

*Looks up "tutted"*
Tutting is the name given to a contemporary abstract interpretive street dance style that exploits the body's ability to create...

Someone danced at you? o.O

Anyway, if someone is cycling as a recreation, we have several cycling paths specifically made for them. So, no need to be on the road/pavement.
If someone is cycling as a primary mode of transportation, then they can either obey ALL the rules of the road or stay the fuck off it.

Either way, be where I'm not. Else, I won't feel a shred of sympathy when this happens to you.

Every cyclist I've seen riding on the sidewalk inevitably tries to slalom between all the pedestrians like he's a goddamn Olympian or something. Unless there's no shoulder and like foot high curbs or something, then get on the damn road and stop acting like your superior cyclist lifestyle lets you float above the rules of society.

Jamash:
The speed at which cycling amongst pedestrians on the pavement would be safe would render cycling pointless, as it would be better for the cyclist to walk with their bike.

Well, I don't think that's true. For one thing, a cyclist walking their bike takes up more space than one riding, and for another, even going slowly on my bike it's still faster than walking. In any case, this is mostly the same as my final point originally, which is that even if cycling on the pavement *were* legal, most cyclists would probably stick to the road most of the time. I'm not suggesting that any cyclist would prefer to use the pavement as their primary route.

Even 10mph, compared to walking speed, is too much to allow a vehicle with the dimensions, mass and construction of a bike to travel safely on a pavement

I don't see why. 10mph is quite slow enough to give a bike an effective stopping distance of a metre or so, and even a head on collision would be unlikely to cause serious injury. Also, and importantly, the cyclist is as likely to be injured as the person they hit, which makes them much more likely to pay attention.

Also, you can't really compare bicycles to wheelchairs and mobility scooters, as bikes are a choice which allow able bodied people to travel at far greater speeds than walking, whereas the latter are the only means for disabled people to travel at all. You could use the same broken logic to argue that you should be allowed to ride your horse in the supermarket because they allow guide dogs.

Obviously my point was made tongue in cheek, but I don't think it's that easy to dismiss. Personally I have poor knees which start to ache if I walk for more than a few minutes, whereas I can cycle comfortably for longer. Also, my journey to work is much too far to walk. Cycling keeps me healthy and avoids polluting the atmosphere. So to put this as an issue of choice is not really the factor. Still - as I say, I only made the point to provoke, it's not a key part of the argument.

Finally, I don't think citing an average 2 deaths and 54 injuries a year caused by cyclists to pedestrians is a good point in favour of letting people cycle on pavements, in fact I'd say that the proven fatal and hazardous risks of allowing people to cycle on pavements is good enough reason to keep them off pavements permanently.

I disagree entirely here. In the context of road deaths as a whole, I think that's an extremely small number, almost negligible. In 2011 175 people died by accidental drowning in the UK. 2 deaths out of the millions of daily pedestrians is obviously a tragedy for those 2 people and their families, but you can't use it as an argument against cycling. Especially when you put it against the 122 cyclists that died last year on the roads. Allowing cyclists on the pavement would, of course, increase the number of cyclist-pedestrian accidents, but overall it would almost certainly save more lives than it cost.

In suburban America, cyclists are the primary users of most pavement. This is largely because America spaces their suburban areas too far apart to make walking a worthwhile endeavor. I used to cycle home from work about 16 kilos/10 miles, did that every day for almost two years. I can count on one hand the number of times I encountered someone else on the pavement. Kept me off the road and away from cars, everyone was perfectly happy with the situation.

No.
My country has dedicated bicycle lanes. Look it up. Tell your governments to make some.

Launcelot111:
Every cyclist I've seen riding on the sidewalk inevitably tries to slalom between all the pedestrians like he's a goddamn Olympian or something. Unless there's no shoulder and like foot high curbs or something, then get on the damn road and stop acting like your superior cyclist lifestyle lets you float above the rules of society.

I don't know, I see comments like this a lot, but they just don't match to anything I've seen. Certainly not 'every cyclist I've seen', and I bet it's not every cyclist you've seen either. Most cyclists seem to be perfectly fine. Obviously there are some who aren't. But I think this is a case of confirmation bias. You only notice the one or two idiots, not the courteous majority.

madwarper:

Either way, be where I'm not. Else, I won't feel a shred of sympathy when this happens to you.

Wow. I just watched that. And well. You think that's OK? You 'wouldn't feel a shred of sympathy' for those people being plowed into and bouncing off that car's bonnet? Well, that's pretty fucking contemptible in my opinion. Even as a piece of hyperbole that's a bit beyond the pale.

Flatfrog:
Edit - crap - what happened to my poll options? Trying again... Well, that sucks. Ok, well, the third option was supposed to be 'No, it's always wrong' and the fourth one was 'I don't care either way'. Tch.

For some reason text in poll options is erased after you type in '. So now you know.

When I was 13 I got run over by a cyclist when walking home from school. He hit me from behind, and since it was so unexpected I ended up face planting right into the sidewalk. Broke my left wrist (thank god I'm right handed), and my nose. Motherfucker didn't even apologize, he just picked his bike back up and kept going while I lay on the ground in a daze. Eventually I got back up and walked another half mile home, where I had to wait for my parents to get home from work so that someone could take me to the hospital.

Next time I saw that biker was 3 weeks later, and he was still riding his bike on the sidewalk like an asshole (completely disregarding the bike lane that was placed in the road literally 2 feet to his left), dodging people at ridiculous speeds. When he came up next to me I kicked his bike, made him fall over, then picked his bike up, threw it in a ditch and walked away.

Anyway, bikes have no business sharing either the road or the sidewalk. They're too slow for roads, and piss off drivers because of it, and they're too fast for the sidewalk, making them a danger to pedestrians. They should only be allowed in designated bike lanes, where they belong.

Isn't this like asking to combine the slow lane and the fast lane? Dedicated Bike lanes are the answer here.

Flatfrog:

madwarper:

Either way, be where I'm not. Else, I won't feel a shred of sympathy when this happens to you.

Wow. I just watched that. And well. You think that's OK? You 'wouldn't feel a shred of sympathy' for those people being plowed into and bouncing off that car's bonnet? Well, that's pretty fucking contemptible in my opinion. Even as a piece of hyperbole that's a bit beyond the pale.

Well considering the cycalists were banging on his windows while he was driving with his kid and he gunned it to get away from some violent folk, nope no pitty.

Plus that kinda protest would have been annoying anyway, I dont care if you protest, just dont do it in the middle of a public street while I am trying to go from point A to B

Edit: oops, OT! I said no, and you should be legally allowed to fuck up any cyclists day if you see him on the sidewalk.

Dirty Hipsters:

Next time I saw that biker was 3 weeks later, and he was still riding his bike on the sidewalk like an asshole (completely disregarding the bike lane that was placed in the road literally 2 feet to his left), dodging people at ridiculous speeds. When he came up next to me I kicked his bike, made him fall over, then picked his bike up, threw it in a ditch and walked away.

I would have thrown the bike on him, picked up and thrown it on him again, then throw it in a ditch. If you want a more comedic effect get a really sturdy stick or something along those lines, throw it in their spokes!

Anyways I live outside of a small town of 1000 people and I always rode my bike on the sidewalk. You don't want to be on a road that has heavy Semi traffic. If someone was walking you pulled off into the grass and went around them. It probably wouldn't work like that though if you live in an area with a large population.

Flatfrog:

Launcelot111:
Every cyclist I've seen riding on the sidewalk inevitably tries to slalom between all the pedestrians like he's a goddamn Olympian or something. Unless there's no shoulder and like foot high curbs or something, then get on the damn road and stop acting like your superior cyclist lifestyle lets you float above the rules of society.

I don't know, I see comments like this a lot, but they just don't match to anything I've seen. Certainly not 'every cyclist I've seen', and I bet it's not every cyclist you've seen either. Most cyclists seem to be perfectly fine. Obviously there are some who aren't. But I think this is a case of confirmation bias. You only notice the one or two idiots, not the courteous majority.

In the town where I went to college, there were tons of people with bikes, but almost no one rode them on the road. I had one friend that did, and it was a point of pride for him because it was so unusual. It's not that the roads were narrow or dangerous or congested or anything, it's just that no one rode on them for whatever reason. The rest rode down the sidewalk between classes, among the thousands of students walking around, and only a handful would have the courtesy of saying they're coming before they blow past you. Many of these sidewalks barely let two people pass, much less a bike. They're such a nuisance that the city banned them from pretty much every sidewalk beyond four blocks from campus.

Confirmation bias might also be a thing. I see good cyclists, sure, but I tend to remember the ones that flip me the bird as they shoot through a stop sign ahead of me.

Desert Punk:

Well considering the cycalists were banging on his windows while he was driving with his kid and he gunned it to get away from some violent folk, nope no pitty.

At the end of the day, he injured and probably killed people. He and his kid got a little scared. Also, the people he injured or killed in this video were NOT acting violent towards him.

OT: I'm a cyclist, and I really don't think we should be on the sidewalks except to get from the road to the rack in as short a distance as possible. The pedestrians have the right of way and shouldn't need to deal with us in their designated space.

I just wish more drivers understood that cyclists are under the same laws as them. I've seen more accidents nearly caused by drivers who don't know how to deal with cyclists than anything else.

McMullen:

Desert Punk:

Well considering the cycalists were banging on his windows while he was driving with his kid and he gunned it to get away from some violent folk, nope no pitty.

At the end of the day, he injured and probably killed people. He and his kid got a little scared. Also, the people he injured or killed in this video were NOT acting violent towards him.

He injured a few people, no one was killed. And I think you underestimate how frightening it is to have a crowd of angry people around you beating on your windows.

They were still douchebags for riding really fuckin slow across the whole of the road.

So, because of where I live (middle of nowhere, Arizona basically) the few sidewalks in my town are, for the most part, devoid of people, and when there are some people walking, I just pull over to the side and let them pass.

I dont see a problem if you're not living in a heavily populated area. Though I can see the point if its New York or Boston, or any medium/large city for that matter :/

All bad manners aside and douchebaggery that may follow, simple physics dictates that the bicycle should be used on the sidewalk. The reasoning is such:

In a worst case scenario there is a collision. Assume averages of 50 lbs a bike, 150 lb a person, and 3000 lb a car. And that is a light car.

Would you rather be:
a) a 150 lb person hit by a 200 lb person + bike combination
or
b) a 200 lb bike + person hit by a 3150 lb person + car combination

I actually don't care what the law says, I always ride on the sidewalk because of safety. And for those who argue there are disrespectful riders on the sidewalk, there are equally disrespectful motorists on the road. And they're quite a bit more dangerous.

Desert Punk:

McMullen:

Desert Punk:

Well considering the cycalists were banging on his windows while he was driving with his kid and he gunned it to get away from some violent folk, nope no pitty.

At the end of the day, he injured and probably killed people. He and his kid got a little scared. Also, the people he injured or killed in this video were NOT acting violent towards him.

He injured a few people, no one was killed. And I think you underestimate how frightening it is to have a crowd of angry people around you beating on your windows.

They were still douchebags for riding really fuckin slow across the whole of the road.

It's interesting how you have yet to acknowledge that getting hit and injured by a car is a lot worse than being frightened for your safety, or even a bad thing. Indeed, if you get hit by a car, you DO fear for your safety as well. In fact, a cyclist often fears for his safety when he finds himself on the road with aggressive or inexperienced drivers, which is a fairly regular occurrence. That's why protests like the one in the video exist.

Perhaps violent anti-car protests and writing off injuries as irrelevant are both unproductive approaches to the problem, no?

As a pedestrian living in a city with designated bike lanes, I find it is a common occurrence for me to be struck or nearly struck while on the sidewalk. It happens more frequently in a tunnel where there is a sign explicitly banning riding bikes and instructing cyclists to walk their vehicles. The signage is routinely ignored, and I frequently find myself in minor altercations with individuals whose convenience was more important than my safety.

Sorry, your proposed rules would do nothing but increase this kind of crap, which I really don't need on my morning commute. Especially when I'm wandering about with my kid. Lobby for bike lanes, stay the hell off the pavement.

Flatfrog:

The second point is that there is a simple solution, which is to change the law to allow cycling on the pavement with the following provisos (which are also my own personal code of conduct when cycling on a pavement myself):
1) A speed limit of, say, 10mph on any pavements with doorways that open directly onto them.
2) An absolute right of way of pedestrians over cyclists. If people are in your way, you have to wait. And no furious ringing of bells either.
3) An assumption of liability in the case of accident. Any unintentional collision between a cyclist and a pedestrian is automatically assumed to be the cyclist's fault.

This works so much better if we have pictures. I'll post a picture, and what I think makes sense regarding bicycling.

For this: image

The primary people riding bicycles are going to be kids, and they SHOULD ride on the sidewalk, as it's far safer than the road, though for older bicyclists it really doesn't matter much since car speed is low.

For this, which is the main road just outside my neighborhood: image

The speed limit is 45 mph here, and 55 mph just beyond here in both directions, so riding on the sidewalk is far, far safer than on the road, and only 'pro' bicyclists would even consider riding on the road. In California, the equivalent type of road tends to have very wide shoulders or dedicated bicyclist lanes, but anywhere that doesn't should ride on the sidewalk for safety.

I can't find a picture that would fit your first point, but outside of cities, it doesn't fit at all. In general, if you're in a city, use the damn bike line if there is one, but it should hardly matter, since everyone is going slow to begin with. If it's a road with a decent speed, unless you're a 'pro' bicyclist, just use the sidewalk, it's safer.

Cyclists should for the most part stay on the road unless they're children where I think it's safer for them to be on the pavement. Not that I'm saying they have to, just that it should be an option and not illegal.

Footpath with restrictions. Those restrictions being 'don't act in a way likely to cause forseeable injury or obstruction to pedestrians'. You think all cyclists have spedometers? You think there is a safe speed to cycle that doesn't render cycling pointless anyway? You think there is never an empty footpath and a busy road at the same time? People have common sense, I'd rather they use it than have unnecessary restrictions.

Fact of the matter is, cars are going to kill cyclists more often than cyclists are going to kill pedestrians, and cyclists being on the road antagonise cars even when acting in accordance with the law, with the result of cars driving more aggressively or trying to overtake unsafely or switching lanes on top of cyclists. I know because I cycle and have witnessed this behaviour.

Cyclists should ride on roads where both lanes are not occupied or a bike lane is provided. Otherwise it should be up to them. If there were bike lanes everywhere and they weren't ignored like the few I see are, I may think differently.

Flatfrog:
Also, and importantly, the cyclist is as likely to be injured as the person they hit, which makes them much more likely to pay attention.

See, logically, I'd think that would also apply to the streets where they are already supposed to be. Yet bikers don't pay attention there, where the lethality is much higher and primarily on them.

I've been hit by cyclists twice while stationary, and that's just collisions and just me and just stationary in my vehicle.

Bikes should be in bike lanes, if there are no bike lanes then too bad. Cars can't drive on foot paths just because there are no roads in an area and pedestrians can't walk in the road just because there are no sidewalks in the area, bikes should not be able to ride on sidewalks or roads just because there are on bike lanes in an area.

i spent about a decade cycling to work when i was younger, come down on both sides of this really, cyclists should use the road and for the main i did , there was a 100m of pavement i had to use to reach a park entrance. but on the other hand i think i was hit by a car a little over a dozen times in those 10 years. and can fully understand people not wanting to cycle on the road.

so really its car drivers that are the problem if the standard of driving was higher it wouldnt be so lethal to cycle on the roads. and we could get the cyclists off the pavement

Small town cyclist here. We cycle on the sidewalk except when there isn't a sidewalk available or there is foot traffic. Then we swap over to the pavement. There is so little traffic here that the only real rules are yield to pedestrians.

We really need bike lanes everywhere, as then people will stop cycling on the pavement. Cyclists face a lot more risks than most other vehicles on the road, as there are always a couple of cars that will dangerously overtake you, and cars that just won't look out for you at all.

It's crazy putting bikes in the same lanes that have big lumps of metal travelling at anywhere up to 60mph. Dedicated bike lanes is the number one way to increase the use of bikes.

What's the big issue with cycling on the road? Why is 18 deaths and 450 injuries negligible to you?
I cycle every day along A roads and I've never had any kind of issue. When you start pushing 20 miles an hour on a bike, I don't think you should be on a pavement unless there's a dedicated bike lane. The fact of the matter is that most pavements are very narrow. You and your handlebars are taking up an awful lot of that space. In order to give right of way, you need to move into the side of the road, or maybe even swoop out into the road if there is nowhere to reasonably stop. It is not safe to run into a road. It is definitely not safe to move move out into the road at 10 miles per hour on a bike. It is safer for everyone to just cycle along the road, leaving room for cars to overtake you whilst remaining in their wing mirror. It is also faster and a more efficient use of your energy - as you're not going to have to stop and start so often.

It's legal here within limits. If there's room on the sidewalks for a bicycle to go without a danger to pedestrians then it's legal. If the sidewalk is crowded you'll either have to go on the road or push your bike.

It does help that we're also getting more and more bicycle lanes to prevent the sidewalk and to reduce the danger from being hit by cars. There needs to be restrictions if they are to go on the sidewalks, but preferably separate lanes as that reduces the risk for both cyclists, pedestrians and cars.

Tayh:
No.
My country has dedicated bicycle lanes. Look it up. Tell your governments to make some.

my coutrny has dedicated bicycle lanes too. you know what they did? painted some white lines on pavement and called it dedicated bicycle lanes. pedestrians are not allowed to walk on them.
Most of our bycicle specific roads are part of pavement, though most cyclists still use road (illegaly, if there is pavement lane you CANT use the road) beucase the pavement is so awful you will breka your back by the end of the trip.
Actually i think we should bah cyclin on roads becasue this often leads t road accidents. Our drivers think like: "of, your riding a bike in front of me, im going to make sure you have to ride off the road to live"

My honest feelings about it, bike path of fuck off.
I spent 4 years on a college campus that was on a lake shore and I saw the most egregious instances of what happens when cyclists stick to side walks instead of the road. They run people down, weave through people, speed down the sidewalk and ring their damn bell as if it is a magic sound that will make people dive out of their way, etc.
The logic behind cyclists is just dumb, so it's not safe for you to be on the road, so make it less safe for pedestrians on sidewalks, real nice.
And before someone goes "oh well but I'm a safe cyclist", that's great, but too bad that there is a sizable chunk (if not the majority) who are not.

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