« 6th Annual Tweed Ride is November 2 | Main | Bikes on Some MARC Trains Seems Imminent »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The 4 year old example of a bad outcome that he cites isn't even applicable. That happened in an alley, not a sidewalk. And it didn't happen next to a bike lane.

It also happened within the CBD where sidewalk cycling is already illegal.

I saw a comment that bicyclists are the greatest threat to pedestrians on a sidewalk, mid-block (not in an intersection). However, it occurred to me that stories of cyclists killing pedestrians are very rare, while stories of pedestrians killed by curb-jumping vehicles are exceedingly common. I wonder what the difference is in the counts of these kinds fatalities?

You can probably find the count for peds killed on sidewalks by cars at FARS (with all the caveats mentioned for bikes), but no one that I know of tracks ped-bike fatal crashes.

Required reading is the paper, "Killed By Automobile," by Jack Komanoff.

You can read it here:

It's a detailed study of pedestrians and cyclists killed by automobiles.

It includes this finding:
"Five percent of pedestrian and cyclist deaths occurred on sidewalks or other off-road areas where it is illegal to drive an automobile."

It also includes this finding:
"Public officials and the media divert attention from dangerous driving by attacking trivial nuisances like bikes on sidewalks."

It's worth reading the whole thing.

Sorry, Charles Komanoff not Jack.

Brilliant! Thanks for the pointer to the Streetsblog article.

Legislating trivialities invites sloppy law enforcement officers who, rightly, haven't wasted their time learning trivial laws. It also invites abuse. Legislating trivialities is a waste of taxpayer money.

The best way to discourage sidewalk riding is to build good facilities in the roadway. And on streets with bike lanes, that's exactly what's happening.

@contrarian - thank you for the post! I noticed the quote that I will see if I can find some applicable information on FARS. "Motorists killed 50 pedestrians on sidewalks during 1994-97 [whereas] one pedestrian was killed by a bicycle on a sidewalk during the same period", which is along the lines of what I was expecting.

The Invisible Visible Man had a post about using reason to determine threats rather than romanticism which ties into this. I saw another comment from a person who said that he had been hit by cyclists four times but "luckily" had never been injured. I would counter that not being injured had nothing to do with luck and everything to do with the fact that cyclist collisions are basically not dangerous (albeit unfortunate and best avoided, of course). Bikes zooming by might seem dangerous but actually aren't, while pedestrians are vastly more likely to be killed by a car driving up at them off the street.

As a 20+ year bike commuter, I'm fine with this. If you're over 12, ride on the street. There are very, very few streets in DC on which I don't feel comfortable riding (Parts of Capitol and New York, mainly), and they're quite easy to avoid.

But Slappy, you're not the only kind of cyclist out there. And you're not the only kind we want. Being a 20 year bike commuter makes you an outlier - probably the top .01%. Is that really where we want to draw the line? At only the most confident cyclists? Or do we want to make room for the "interested but concerned" cyclists who constitute the majority?

The comments to this entry are closed.

Banner design by creativecouchdesigns.com

City Paper's Best Local Bike Blog 2009


 Subscribe in a reader