Riding your bicycle around the busy streets of Indianapolis and other corners of Indiana can be understandably intimidating. Many motorists don’t pay enough attention to bicyclists, increasing the chances of causing a bicycle accident. You might be tempted to take your two wheels onto the sidewalk to get out of the way of negligent motorists. But is that a good idea? Is it safe? Is it legal?
Legalities of Riding Your Bike on the Sidewalk
Different municipalities can establish their own laws for riding a bicycle on a pedestrian sidewalk. What might be legal in one city could constitute a minor violation worthy of a citation in another. With this in mind, you should avoid riding your bicycle on the sidewalk unless you have first checked local ordinances to confirm it is legal to do so. Otherwise, your fun afternoon trip could end with a ticket.
Safety Issues of Sidewalk Bicycling
Not only is there a potential legal issue with riding your bicycle on the sidewalk, but there are also considerable safety issues, too. When you are on the sidewalk, you blend into your surrounding environment even more to motorists. You will be far more likely to be hit by someone opening their door after parking adjacent to the street, which is called a dooring accident. You could also be swiped by a driver moving through a driveway but did not expect a fast-moving bicyclist to be approaching.
You will also be at an increased risk of getting into a pedestrian accident when bicycling on the sidewalk. Pedestrians will have trouble seeing you coming and getting out of your way in an emergency. Shop doors that swing outward could also abruptly block your path, causing a severe head-on crash with the door and the person who opened it.
In a pedestrian-bicycle accident on the sidewalk, you and the pedestrian could both be seriously injured. Additionally, you would probably have a difficult time avoiding all or most of the liability as the bicyclist in the accident, especially if the city disallowed bicycle riding on sidewalks.
Bottom Line: Use Caution on Sidewalks
When safety and legal issues are considered, riding your bicycle on the sidewalk is something that should be done sparingly and always with an abundance of caution. You could inadvertently put yourself and pedestrians in danger of an accident, and you could be cited for a municipal violation. Using the street and designated bike lanes whenever possible is strongly advised.