GA law is clear (and this is apparently true in more places than not): Bicycles are not allowed on sidewalks.
I disagree strongly with this law. For several reasons, but not the least is manners. Manner FOR cyclists, and manners FROM cyclists.
I object because I think most people riding bikes (at least that I’ve ever dealt with) have a few problems:
1. They don’t know the rules.
I’m big on following the rules. The number of people who don’t know how to signal while riding a bicycle is upsetting. The number of times a pack of cyclists will be 3-4 abreast (the law says no more than TWO). The number of times people have been riding against traffic…. Seriously, I need to start a YouTube channel and call it “illegal shit I see on the road every day” – I could do a monthly bicycle video (at approximately 5-15 seconds per sighting, I’d need to collect a few to put together).
2. They are entitled assholes
There is good reason bicycles are allowed to ride IN the lane of traffic with cars – a small branch, a pine cone, or a dead squirrel pose a significant hazard for a cyclist. I GET it. That doesn’t mean I appreciate when a cyclist is doing it on a perfectly clean road were they CAN ride closer to the edge.
Now, this might ignorance or entitlement – I don’t know. I assume it’s entitlement when it’s a person wearing a cycling suit and fancy helmet and acting like my neighborhood street is part of the Tour de France. I try to remind myself they could just be a beginner who bought ALL THE GEAR… but sometimes….
And groups of cyclists. UGH. If you’re riding in a group you are supposed to single file. Not three or four abreast. SHARE. I am willing to share the road with cyclists. But damnit, they need to show the same respect.
3. They aren’t insured
I struggle with this one because I don’t want to make bicycles impossible for people to afford – BUT. BUUUTTT….. a car or a motorcycle has a licensing level to prevent (at least some) incompetence and requires insurance in case something happens. In the case of bicycles – no licensing. No insurance. All the responsibility and risk is put on the car/motorcyclist dealing WITH the cyclist.
And I don’t have an answer here, because I don’t think insuring cyclist is necessarily fair. Frankly, if a cyclist runs into a car they might scratch the paint. If a car runs into a cyclist – the cyclist very well might die. So car drivers SHOULD bear a greater risk-responsibility to a point.
This is where it bothers me that cyclists are not allowed to use sidewalks. There is a balancing act between people walking, people cycling, and cars. I do understand some of the reasoning for cyclists to be on the road instead of sidewalks… but honestly I think the speeds involved put cyclist-walker collisions to be far LESS dangerous than cyclist-car collisions.
OR allow cyclists to be on roads IF they get some kind of confirmed “I know what I’m doing” certification. Make it free. I am ten billion percent ok with my tax dollars covering the test time/expense/manpower to keep cyclists safe. And of course (just like walking) if there is NOT a sidewalk, “unlicensed” cyclists are allowed on the road. As long as the road is under 55 mph. If the cars are going 55 mph (or expected they might) unlicensed cyclists shouldn’t be on it. Period.
I’m sure there has to be other exceptions, but what we have only marginally works and kind of sucks. Surely we can do better, right?