Why is it more dangerous to ride your bike on the sidewalk?

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2024 | Bicycle Accidents |

People will often ride their bikes on the sidewalk, even in places where doing so is technically illegal. They will say that they just feel safer. Riding in the road makes them feel like they’re constantly going to be struck by negligent drivers who are overtaking their bike. Riding on the sidewalk gives them separation and keeps them safe.

However, some studies indicate that it’s actually more likely that a cyclist will be hit on the sidewalk than if they are in the road. They are inadvertently increasing the danger they face. Why is this?

Drivers aren’t looking for cyclists

The problem is that drivers don’t expect cyclists to be on the sidewalk. They are looking for pedestrians. 

For example, a driver who is turning right may check their mirror to see if there is a cyclist in the bike lane. But when they see that the path is clear, they’ll begin executing their turn without ever expecting that cyclist to cross their path on the sidewalk. This leads to accidents when drivers turn into parking lots or driveways, or just when they turn on a perpendicular road.

Speed is also an issue. Some drivers will check the sidewalk, but they are really only looking for people who are walking. A cyclist is much faster, so the driver thinks that they have plenty of space to turn – but the cyclist quickly closes the distance. This can also happen to runners who are out for a jog. A driver will start to turn as if they have enough space, forgetting that the person is running and will approach that intersection much more quickly than if they were walking.

If you do get hit by a negligent driver, even if you were riding safely in the road, then you need to know how to seek financial compensation for your injuries.