Where is it safer to ride a bike?

A heated dispute about the safety of bike sidepaths started on twitter, made me re-consider the two options as well.

For example, Erik Weber @vebah considers sidepaths to be a safer option than bike lanes. And he does have a good point . In a country that dismisses cycling as a mean for the daily commute even more than walking and taking public transit and almost worships  “The Car” as an insignia of its exceptionalism, to have  cars and bikes  share the street will  always be an ordeal for cyclists.  It is like forcing the scrawniest kid in school walk on the same path to school with the meanest bully and assume they will cooperate somehow.

Bringing cyclists and pedestrians together on sidewalks and sidepaths sharing the same pavement  makes more sense , since  people that care enough to walk are more likely to understand and co-operate with cyclists. Yet  this match is not necessarily the best.

Bicycles are more like motorized vehicle and the new generations of e-bikes are “motorized vehicles” de facto.  They can reach speeds of 20-25 miles per hour which cannot compare with a person’s walking speed of 3-4 miles per hour. Having a bike passing you by a few inches away, going five times your speed, can be intimidating to say the least.  Pets and young children may get frighten and cause accidents…

Street crossing is another issue – as it is designed for pedestrians walking at for miles per hour and able to stop in a moment as traffic lights change. A cyclist who gained “full momentum” needs a considerably longer path so it can bring itself to a full stop as lights change …

A detailed list of articles and some stats on how dangerous sidepaths  could be found on the internet here.  I am no expert on bikes or cycling so I won’t guarantee it’s unbiased professionalism… Returning to cycling in the United States – I consider that both positions made equally good points. Yet neither can reach an agreement on what is the best solution – accommodations on the street or on the sidewalk.  Because they are looking only at one of the issue’s multiple facets…

Note: Eric Weber blogs for http://greatergreaterwashington.org/ and The City Fix.


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