Bicyclists are NOT Pedestrians

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

Local rider learns a painful lesson

There was an accident involving a bicyclist and a vehicle this week, at the intersection of 5th and Market Streets in downtown Parkersburg. Initially, it looked to police as if the bicyclist was riding down Market Street and was hit or run off the road by a truck turning from 5th onto Market Streets in the pre-dawn hours on Thursday. But the police investigation later revealed that the bicyclist was cruising on the sidewalk on 5th Street and was crossing in the pedestrian walkway when the truck turned onto Market Street and the bicyclist took a tumble. Luckily, the bicyclist was not badly injured. But this accident points out a mis-conception that many people -- and many bicyclists – have. A bicycle is not a pedestrian. With very few exceptions an adult bicyclist should NOT ever ride on a sidewalk. Sidewalks are for pedestrians and perhaps small children on tricycles. But they are NOT for bicyclists. I understand why some bicyclists are tempted to ride on sidewalks. It can be dangerous riding in the street, even though bikes are legally permitted to operate on streets just like a motor vehicle. But when you ride your bike on a street that has no parking on either side and is curb-to-curb traffic, it can be a very scary thing. Many motorists don’t watch for or make provisions for bicycles. But that does NOT give bicyclists the right to simply jump up and ride on the sidewalk. The bicyclist should look for an alternate route that doesn’t have so much traffic. When that’s not possible, he or she should either get used to it or not ride. This bicyclist appears to have wanted it both ways. He wanted to ride on the sidewalk (like a pedestrian), have the right-of-way to cross the pedestrian walkway (like a pedestrian), but go much faster than a pedestrian by riding his bike. Sorry. That’s not the way things work. A lesson he has now painfully learned.

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