Comment 32783

By arienc (registered) | Posted August 12, 2009 at 23:28:07

I find it a conundrum that many people who cycle somehow claim that sidewalks are safer.

After starting a bike commute to the GO here in Appleby a year ago, I find the opposite. When I use the multi-use pathway or sidewalk (riding on sidewalks being legal in Burlington), I found that almost daily I would come close to being hit by an inattentive driver who decided to continue into the intersection or cross the path without first looking at the bike path or sidewalk (makes little difference on the type of pavement). For a good majority of drivers, the stop line placed before the intersection is only a suggestion of where to begin applying one's brakes, especially when making right-hand turns.

On the road, even where there is no bike lane, I generally receive respect from drivers, apart from the odd aggressive yahoo honking a horn or yelling "get off the road...". This happens maybe twice a month. Riding on the road, even alongside high-speed traffic and trucks has ironically provided a more relaxing and safer commute. Trucks can be scary, but they almost always give me the full lane.

I have concluded that sidewalk riding is many times less safe than riding on the roadway. Yes, there is a sense of comfort and separation, but from my experience, being separate from traffic also means not being noticed, which is the #1 factor in cyclist safety.

While European style separated cycle paths may make sense, without driver education, enforcement and clear warnings (i.e. traffic lights for bike lanes, raised curbs) the addition of new infrastructure may end up causing more tragedies than it prevents.

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