Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bicycling on the Sidewalk

Over the weekend, I completed a personal goal of mine: ride my bicycle from our house in Durham to our old apartment in Cary and back. Total round trip distance (including a couple of quick side trips) = 38.3 miles.

View Larger Map

Now...here's the thing. Unless I really want to go out of my way, it's basically impossible to get from here to there without riding on some rather busy roads. While some roads in Cary do have dedicated bike lanes or wide shoulders, most do not. I think it's kind of scary to ride my bike on a road with heavy traffic, even if Cary has labeled several major roads as "bike routes". (Those "bike route" designations seem completely arbitrary, at least to me.) So what's the solution? Ride on the sidewalk instead!

I know that as a bicyclist, I'm not supposed to be riding on the sidewalk. Sidewalks are for foot traffic, not bike traffic. Bicycle traffic is supposed to take the roads. But, you know, I don't care. I feel safer, and I am not endangering the small amount of pedestrian traffic that actually does use the sidewalk, because I slow down, call out, and give plenty of room as I pass, all the while not hindering car traffic one bit. It all makes sense in my head, even if it's not what I'm "supposed" to be doing. Besides, how else was I going to get this picture?

Here is the background if you're curious what this is all about. Given how image conscious the Town of Cary is, I think it's amusing (and a bit ironic) that this message is still there, nine months later.

So, anyway...bicycling on the sidewalk isn't really fun; it's just a way to get where you want to go without getting in the way. So while Cary does have some nice greenways (including one with its own bridge over US-1/64, from which the above picture was taken - that was the highlight of the ride), you still have to get there somehow, and that's why I probably won't be doing too much biking in Cary anymore.

In other news, my Bicycling Trip to Alaska is now in Wisconsin. Yay!


bubba said...

Riding your bike on the sidewalk: fair or foul?
Foul for any distance over a few hundred feet/one block.

Cullen said...

I agree with Bubba...FOUL!

Chris Allen said...

I think it depends on the city and the area, too. Yes, it is technically "foul" everywhere. And it is absolutely foul in places that have a lot of pedestrian traffic (college campuses, small towns, downtowns of major cities). But in suburban areas like Cary where pedestrian traffic is almost nonexistent, there isn't an overwhelming "share the road" culture (despite Cary's best efforts), and the speed limit on many roads exceeds 45 mph, I think it can be excused, IMO.