Riding a Bike on D.C. Sidewalks May Be More Dangerous Than You Think

For many bicycle riders, riding on a sidewalk may be a first inclination, attempting to stay away from dangerous roadways, heavy traffic, and large motor vehicles. However, riding on the sidewalk may not be as safe as people believe it to be. Contrary to popular belief, riding on the street may be the best way to avoid a serious bike accident in Washington, D.C.

The city streets in D.C. are equipped with designated bike lanes, allowing cyclists to safely ride at a distance from other vehicles. Plus, when bicyclists choose to ride on the road, they follow the same traffic laws as any other vehicle on the streets. This consistency between bikes and cars can help increase transportation predictability between both cyclists and motorists, making it more likely to reach a desired destination without incident.

Three Reasons Why Sidewalk Bike Riding Is Dangerous
  • Speed – Bicycles travel faster than pedestrians, and neither can always predict what the other will do. Plus, many common sidewalk users are those in wheelchairs, the elderly, those with strollers or small children, and people with pets. These groups don’t always mix well with speedy bicyclists.
  • Visibility – Stationary objects like parked cars, and trees can make it difficult for motorists in cars to see what bicyclists are doing on crowded sidewalks. This lack of visibility reduces reaction time at intersections, driveways, and alleyways.
  • Predictability – Remember, bikes are vehicles, not just forms of recreational sport. Predictability is the key to safety. When bicyclists choose to ride on the sidewalk, drivers and pedestrians cannot prepare to consistently deal with bicyclists. Weaving in and out of intersections, between the street and the sidewalk, and around pedestrians can be very dangerous for everyone nearby.

There may be times when a bicyclist may be forced to ride on the sidewalk. These exceptions may include: inexperienced, small children on bikes, or when road construction or conditions prohibit street riding. However, if these occasions present themselves, it’s advised to ride slowly, and always keep in mind that pedestrians have the right of way!

Bicycle accidents can happen for any number of reasons, due to any number of variables. But, when negligence is a cause, victims have a legal right to seek the financial compensation they deserve. At Lewis & Tompkins, we proudly serve victims of bike accidents in Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland, and have a history of successful cases as evidence of our ability to aggressively pursue your bicycle accident injury claim. Call today to schedule your free consultation.

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