Sometimes I Take the Sidewalk

[or~ “Get on the #%$~^@ sidewalk where you &++#@!*$ Belong!]

Bikes belong in the street, not on the sidewalk. In fact, it is illegal for anyone over the age of 12 to ride on a sidewalk in Chicago*. Riding in the street is generally safer because you are visible, while on the sidewalks you encounter pedestrians, cross streets, alleys, and parking lot entrances where drivers don’t expect to see bikes. Riding in the street is also generally faster and smoother, on better-maintained pavement instead of concrete blocks. Finally, riding in the street sends the correct message to drivers: that bikes belong.

Despite all of this, sometimes I take the sidewalk. Very rarely and only on the arterial streets when there is no way around them. This is the type of Chicago street where you’ll find the Targets and the McDonalds. Four lanes, two in each direction, no shoulder, definitely no bike lane, high speeds, and ginormous potholes. Meanwhile, the pedestrian-free sidewalks beckon. For these reasons, if I absolutely cannot avoid taking these streets, I usually ride on their sidewalks.

The most recent sidewalk expedition was on Thursday night, as my destination was on an arterial street and it’s the only way to get across the highway and river dividing the east and west sides. On top of everything, it was dark and raining. After studying Google maps in preparation for the trip, I decided that I would take side streets as far as possible and then hop on the sidewalk.


I am more interested in getting from point A to point B safely than in sending a message or exuding street cred (which is hard to exude on an Omafiets, anyway). 98% of the time it is safer to ride in the street, and even when I decide to take the sidewalk, it is only safer if I follow these rules:

  • Ride slowly.
  • Watch out for pedestrians and either slow to a crawl or walk your bike past them (if a sidewalk has a lot of pedestrians, don’t even try riding your bike on it).
  • Keep an eye out for alleys, driveways, parking lots or any other place from which a car could spring. Be extra cautious and look both ways.
  • At cross streets try to cross with the light in the cross walk. Assume that drivers do not see you. They certainly don’t expect anything faster than a pedestrian. Look over your shoulder for turning traffic.

This particular ride was more stressful and took longer than normal rides in the street because I had to slow and stop at so many intersections. Although I passed no pedestrians, I passed a few bikes – a couple on the sidewalk and a couple in the street. Did I feel a little sheepish when I passed the street riders? Sure, but not sheepish enough to throw myself in a situation where I did not feel safe.

The problem is that the city traffic design completely disregards bikes at the most dangerous areas, such as crossing rivers and highways. (Read about this problem in more detail at Chicago Bike Blog, where the author eventually decides to take arterial street sidewalks for a particular route with her son). So for those who are passionately against sidewalk riding under any circumstances, I respect that, but don’t hate the player, hate the game.

SOURCE: Let’s Go Ride a Bike,  8/29/09


*NOTES: New York State appears to be typical in that the Vehicle and Traffic Law 5 does not regulate sidewalk bicycling. It appears that the General Municipal Law (Section 180) 6  states that NY municipalities can regulate bike riding on sidewalks. They cannot require that bicyclists use a sidewalk instead of a public roadway, but they can impose limits to sidewalk bicycling. ALBANY CODE – § 359-4 Riding on sidewalks prohibited; exceptions. – No person shall ride any bicycle, tricycle, velocipede or other vehicle of propulsion on or over any footpath in any of the parks, or on or over any of the sidewalks of any of the streets or avenues in this City, except if it is to go into a yard, lot or building; provided, however, that the foregoing provision of this section shall not apply to children under 10 years of age; and provided further that this section shall not be so construed as to prohibit the riding of any bicycle, tricycle or similar vehicle upon or over the unpaved portion of the sidewalk of any such street or streets outside of the thickly settled part of the City as shall be designated in writing by the Mayor.  Every designation so made as aforesaid shall be filed with the Chief of Police and may be revoked by the Mayor at any time in his discretion.


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Filed under Activisim, City Review, Feature, Riding in Albany

ABC-Sponsored South End Bikeway Link Tour #1 – 3/7/15

 The South End Bikeway Link Coalition wants to build interest and support for protected bicycle lanes as key part of the proposed 1.5-mile South End Bikeway Link.

The Albany Bicycle Coalition is joining with other cycling organizations to sponsor monthly rides of the proposed route with stops at points of interest along the route.

Riders are invited to meet at Albany Corning Preserve Boat Launch Area (near Colonie St.) on March 7 at 10:00 AM) for a guided tour of the proposed route. The South End Bikeway Link will connect the new Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail to the Albany Corning Preserve, the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, and the Erie Canalway Trail. There will be a free “Ride Smart” mini class at 9:30 AM led by League Cycling Instructors certified by the League of American Bicyclists.


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Filed under Activisim, Bike Lanes, Rides

Promoting Cycling in the Capital Region Since 2004

Comp Sts 7-18-13 COMP AABC Year in Review ~ 2014

~ Albany Bicycle Coalition ~ Promoting Cycling in the Capital Region Since 2004 ~


  • Protected Bicycle Lanes/Madison Avenue Traffic Calming – As a founding member of the Protected Bicycle Lane Coalition, promoted protected lanes.
  • South End Bikeway Link – Develop and promote a protected bicycle link between the new Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail and the Albany waterfront/Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail.
  • Close the Gap in the Erie Canalway Trail – Helped take 100s of postcards to Governor’s office (8/22/14)
  • Albany Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee – Represented and advised on bicycle issues.
  • Albany Police Department Traffic Safety Committee – Represented and advised on bicycle issues on the Education, Enforcement, and Engineering Subcommittees.
  • Livingston Avenue Bridge Coalition – Promoted reopening of walking and cycling pathway over the Hudson River railroad bridge.
  • Capital District Transportation Committee/Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee – Regularly involved in promotion, public policy, and planning activities.
  • Albany Common Council – Advocated on various issues, including Protected Bicycle Lanes, Madison Avenue Traffic Calming, Complete Street Ordinance, and Albany Medical Center Hospital Garage.
  • Delaware Area Neighborhood Association/PAL Neighborhood Bicycle Rodeo – Check and tuned up bicycles for youth and adults (6/22/14)
  • Pine Hills Neighborhood Student/Resident Block Party – Hosted exhibit booth on ABC and Protected Bicycle Lanes. (9/14/14)
  • Transport Troy Supported Troy group advocating for sustainable transportation and bicycle routes.
  • Bike Count – Provided staff for the City of Albany’s twice-yearly count of people on bicycles
  • Upper Madison Street Fair – Promoted cycling and Protected Bicycle Lanes (9/21/14)


  • Bicycle Expo 2014 – Held 4th annual Bicycle Expo in Washington Park. 500 attendees, 35 vendors, 40 raffle prizes. (5th annual event to be held May 3, 2015.)
  • Keys to the City Hill Climb – Held the first “Keys to the City Climb” in Lincoln Park area (9/6/14).
  • Cranksgiving Ride – Participated in annual food drive ride (11/22/14).
  • Daily Grind-to-Daily Grind Ride – Hosted the 7th annual sponsored ride between Albany and Troy coffee shops (8/16/14).
  • Earth Day Bicycle Ride – Promoted cycling and environmental awareness in the city (4/22/14).
  • Holiday Lights in the Park Ride – Promoted and participated in charity ride through the lights.
  • Introduction to Cycling – Conducted workshop for NYS Tax and Finance agency staff.
  • Ride of Silence – Sponsored annual, national ride to honor those on bicycles killed in crashes. (5/21/14)
  • Monthly ABC Meetings – Open to the public, last Thursday of every month, LaSalle School.



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Filed under Activisim, Press Release

“The Joy of Bicycle Travel”

??????????????????????This was one of the main points by Jim Sayer, ED of Adventure Cycling, during his talk in Saratoga Springs on 1/26/15. As is his custom, Jim was taking a swing through part of the US to drum up bicycle touring but also, of course, to promote Adventure Cycling as the lead bicycle touring organization in the US and as an international leader. He highlighted the many different types of tours offered ranging from van supported, inn-to-inn, family fun, and self contained.

Jim covered the Adventure Cycling program and urged attendees to support their local advocacy groupLeague of American Bicyclists, New York Bicycling Coalition, Albany Bicycle Coalition, Parks & Trails New York,  Bike Toga, and so on. He made a big push for the United States Bike Route System which, when realized, will be the world’s largest. An audience of about 50-60, including at least 6 ABC members, also heard about touring initiatives and routes around the world and in Canada.

One of the major points raised – and of interest to local advocates for the Erie Canalway Trail “close the gap” push, the Madison Avenue Traffic Calming/Protected Bicycle Lanes initiative, and the multi-sponsor South End Bikeway Link was the many economic impact studies that demonstrate how bicycle tourism generates BILLIONS in states like Oregon, Montana,  Michigan, and Arizona.

Jim’s enthusiastic presentation and the programs he described were quite inspirational. We were all grateful to Bike Toga for hosting the event including a nice spread of beverages, fruits, and snacks.



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Filed under Activisim, protected bicycle lanes, Rides, Riding in Albany, Support the Cause

May is comin’ . . .

Ride in the Winter 1-15-15

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by | January 15, 2015 · 4:10 pm