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Bikes are near and dear to many students as a form of transportation. They're cheap and quicker than walking. But have you seen the chaos that ensues? I've spotted people talking on cell phones, smoking, and riding with hands stuffed in pockets because the cyclists doesn't know how to dress himself properly for the weather. Don't get me started on bike lanes and sidewalk etiquette!
Oops, too late.
Yesterday's post on Road Rights showed a map of sidewalk laws in the U.S.:
I grew up in Wisconsin, so I'm biased against riding on the sidewalk unless one has a good reason. In Illinois, however, riding on the sidewalk is allowed and students take all the rights of that without the responsibilities. Cyclists are required to yield to pedestrians on sidewalks.
I by no means blame only cyclists for the problems between bikers and walkers. People walk on the bike paths all the time, sometimes making them inaccessible because they refuse to move. Have you ever noticed that people seem to think you can't hit them if they don't look at you? It works when they walk in front of your car, too.
The option I most use is riding on the road. I figure a car is not likely to expect someone moving 10-15 mph on the sidewalk and I'm safer on the road. A lot of cyclists join me on the road. But again many of them take the rights without the responsibilities, and they blow through stop signs and lights without so much as a glance at cross traffic. If they don't look, the car can't hit them. I sense a theme here.
The bottom line is that, whatever your local cycling laws say, act like a car on the road and a pedestrian on the sidewalk with the caveats that you are much smaller than a car and bigger than a pedestrian. Adjust your risk assessment accordingly and be respectful of others.
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Illinois Bicycle Rules of the Road