In some cities, it’s illegal for cyclists to use the sidewalk instead of the roadway. However, Indianapolis allows you to do so.
Safety is a primary issue for cyclists, and riding a bike on the sidewalk continues to be a topic of debate. Some people believe the sidewalk provides a safer avenue for getting from point A to point B; others believe it’s more dangerous, especially for pedestrians.
Why It’s Dangerous to Ride on the Sidewalk
Riding on the sidewalk can seem like a better option than riding on a busy roadway, but this option poses hazards, as well. Sidewalk riding doesn’t reduce the risk of crashing with a car.
Here are some important points to consider:
You May Be Less Visible to Drivers
When cyclists ride their bikes on sidewalks, they’re less visible to drivers. When people get into their vehicles, they’re distracted by putting on their seat belts, adjusting the radio and mirrors, positioning their coffee mugs—when they’re leaving their driveway.
Some motorists consider the sidewalk crossing part of their driveway, and they don’t often stop at the edge of the sidewalk to look both ways for cyclists.
You Can Put Pedestrians at Risk
When cyclists ride sidewalks, they’re more likely to make contact with pedestrians. Sidewalks can be narrow, making it more difficult to maneuver around groups of people or someone stopped in the middle of your path. You might encounter families walking on W 62nd Street while you’re biking to get to Northwestway Park.
Such pedestrians might be eating, texting, or talking on cell phones, not paying attention to their surroundings. Biking past them can prove challenging and dangerous. If you’re traveling at high speed and hit a pedestrian, you could do serious harm, and the victim could sue you.
You Can Fall Off Your Bike Directly Into Traffic
If a sidewalk is not properly maintained or construction occurs nearby, you could encounter a hazard on the sidewalk. A deep crack in the pavement can send a bicyclist head-on into heavy traffic, which may only be a few inches away.
Other hazards unique to sidewalks include coming into contact with a dangerous dog and getting hit by low-hanging branches. Any of these features can create a more dangerous path than driving in a designated bicyclist lane.
Four Rules to Follow If You Decide to Ride Your Bicycle on a Sidewalk
If you’re a cyclist who favors the sidewalk, it’s important to understand the dangers involved, as well as a few critical safety tips.
If you’re a cyclist who prefers to use the sidewalk over roadways, four rules to follow to make the trip safer. We have included these below. These can help you and the pedestrians sharing the sidewalk:
This is the primary rule for sidewalk cyclists. Because a sidewalk was designed for pedestrians. You should not go much faster than them. Don’t ride faster than a relaxed jog.
Yield to Pedestrians
If you ride up behind a group of people, be courteous and ask them to let you pass. Be prepared to wait for them to move out of the way. When you need to pass a pedestrian on the left, you should never startle him. Avoid ringing your bell or yelling because it may cause the person to inadvertently jump in your path.
Simply say, “On your left,” and most people promptly move to the right.
Walk Your Bike
Especially if you ride to work in a busy city, you may need to get off your bike and walk for a while. Congestion can make it impossible to maneuver easily, so walk your bike if there are too many people. Don’t risk hitting a pedestrian by attempting to swerve in and out of groups of people.
Check Each Driveway and Intersection
Make sure that you check for cars when you ride past a driveway, parking garage, or cross street. This means you need to slow down and be vigilant about looking for traffic at every type of entrance or exit. Remember that drivers aren’t usually looking for cyclists traveling down the sidewalk, and many forget that the end of their driveway is part of that sidewalk.
How Negligence Can Cause Bike Injuries
Cyclists experience accidents while riding for many reasons and negligent drivers cause nearly one-third of them, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The department’s research revealed how different forms of negligence lead to a bike accident, including the following main causes of bicycle accidents:
- Being struck by a car: 29 percent
- Falling: 17 percent
- Riding on roads or walkways that are in poor condition: 13 percent
- Riding while distracted, not paying attention, or making an error: 13 percent
- Crashing or colliding with another person or object: 7 percent
- Colliding with a dog: 4 percent
If you can prove that another party’s negligence played a role in your bicycle accident, you can pursue them for compensation. Keep in mind that bicyclists are subject to traffic laws and a basic duty of care. A pedestrian could sue a negligent bike rider if the rider caused an accident.
Seeking Compensation After a Bicycle Accident in Indianapolis
If you suffered injuries because of a negligent driver or another party, you might have a couple of options for recourse. You can file a claim with the party’s insurer and seek a settlement. If an insurer tries to undervalue or deny your claim, you can also file a personal injury lawsuit.
You may have to go to trial and argue your case before a jury, but you do not have to do so alone. You have the right to legal representation whether you file a claim or lawsuit.
If You’ve Been Hurt in a Bike Accident, Call Us
If you’re a bicyclist who a negligent driver in Indianapolis injured, contact Sevenish Law Firm, P.C. to help you get the compensation you deserve.
We can handle negotiations with the insurance company or represent you in court. Our team will work hard to help you get the compensation you deserve. You’ll pay no fee unless our lawyers win your case. Call us today at 317-720-3229.