My daughter asked me, "Did you step off your high horse, or were you pushed?" when I biked on a sidewalk.
A few weeks ago my daughter and I were on our bikes during the height of Christmas shopping season. I was dismayed to see traffic backed up a couple blocks on a road that ordinarily has light traffic. I hopped over to the sidewalk.
I preach "Don't bike on the sidewalk" every chance I get. Sidewalks are dangerous places for bicycles. Bike-car collisions occur at a higher rate to bicyclists riding on sidewalks than to bicyclists riding on roads. This surprises most people, because cars don't drive on sidewalks, except in rare circumstances typically involving alcohol. But then I ask, "Have you ever had a near miss by a car backing out of a garage?" (One young man answered, "She didn't miss.") Sidewalks cross driveways, parking lot entrances, alleys, and streets. Every crossing is a potential for collision, and as motorists we don't watch for bicyclists on sidewalks.
Streets also intersect with driveways, parking lot entrances, alleys, and other streets, but motorists do watch for traffic coming down a street.
I did not want to wait for 10 or 15 minutes in line that day so I hopped over to the sidewalk. I slowed down and watched carefully for cars entering or exiting as we passed one parking lot entrance and then another. There were no pedestrians on this sidewalk, or I would have biked very slow, at pedestrian speed.
When we got to the stop sign, I said, "You're probably shocked that I bicycled on the sidewalk."
My daughter replied, "Did you step off your high horse, or were you pushed?"
Apparently she has heard me preach vehemently against biking on sidewalks a few times.
Don't bike on sidewalks. But if you choose to, slow down and watch those driveways and entrances. Don't forget to check for cars coming up behind you that might be turning into the parking lot entrance that you are passing.
A few days ago we were discussing the best route to one of her destinations in Rolla. She admitted that she had started bicycling on the sidewalk. Bishop St., or Hwy 63, is a difficult street in Rolla. Avoiding it requires studying a map and having excellent spatial memory. Alternate, residential routes don't all have a stoplight at King's Highway, another difficult street. The logistics of route-finding were so complex that she gave up and started biking on the sidewalk.
I don't blame her. "Just remember to watch the driveways and parking lot entrances," I told her.