Category Archives: Article

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.

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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

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*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

“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

Rally for Albany’s South End Bikeway Link – Urgency and Benefits

Rally For Albany’s South End Bikeway Link  – Urgency and Benefits

  1. Wednesday, January 21, 2015
  2. 6:00 to 8:00 pm
  3. Albany Public Library – Main Branch
  4. 161 Washington Ave.
  5. Parking lot in rear of library on Elk Street and on the street (street meters go “off” at 6 PM).

Join other stakeholders to discuss the recreational and economic benefits “the link” offers to connect local residents and neighboring communities. Together, our voices can be heard to build a safer path to the Hudson River/downtown Albany.??????????????????????

Advocates and stakeholders will meet on Wednesday, January 21, 2015, 6-8 pm, Albany Public Library Main Branch, Auditorium, 161 Washington Ave., Albany.

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By mid October, the 128-year-old Albany Susquehanna coal hauling rail line re-opens as a multi-use path for people on bicycles, walking, or running. It will stretch 9.3 scenic miles from Albany’s Port at Rt. 32/South Pearl St through Delmar to the Village of Voorheesville. While from Western New York, the 360-mile Erie Canalway/Mohawk-Hudson Bike Hike Trail abruptly stops at Albany’s waterfront Corning Preserve. Between the trails lay a 1.5-mile gap — one that forces cyclists onto rushing car commuters on Route 32 and neighborhood streets that are lacking any facilities for people on bicycles except for a few shared lane markings on S. Pearl St.

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Filed under Activisim, Bike Lanes, City Review, Meetings, protected bicycle lanes

A Kick in the Head . . .

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While not directly related to bicycles (other than “livable community,” “shop local,” etc.), the New Year 2015 will not be blessed with the best pastry shop in the area – Crisan (197 Lark St., 445-2727). Iggy and Claudia have announced that their business is converting to wholesale/special orders model and will no longer host a street side café.

Crisan has been a busy mainstay on Lark St. for six years. It offered the best pastry in the area, delicious coffee, and gelato in a courteous, welcoming atmosphere. It was common to find all three tables fully occupied and a long line at the counter. In all but the coldest months, the three outside tables were a great spot to “see and be seen” and enjoy the goodness of Crisan.

While this change is a real loss, rest assured that “Crisan Bakery & Edible Art Gallery” will provide you the best (and most attractive) cakes and pastries you can envision.

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Filed under City Review, Comings and Goings