City ADA Compliance
24 Apr

Sidewalk Wars: City Cyclists vs. Pedestrians


For the urban landscape, sidewalks have become a type of no man’s land for city commuters — not only for pedestrians but also for cyclists. Since vehicles rule the road, pedestrians and cyclists are at-risk anytime they walk or ride in the road. To remain safe, city cyclists and pedestrians often turn to the sidewalk. 

While many cities want their residents and commuters to move away from using cars and encourage bicycling, pedestrians in some cases see this shift as dangerous.

Throughout the years, bicycle riders have been a wild card for pedestrians and motorists alike. Some bicycle riders use the sidewalk as their personal roadway while other bike commuters run red lights, ride against the flow of traffic, and crash into opening car doors.

The upswing of shared city bicycles and e-bikes for commuters means an increase in crashes, injuries, and fatalities. In the Upper East Side of NYC, the police note that the number one complaint by residents is cyclists who don’t obey traffic laws. Cities are taking note of serious collisions involving bikers and pedestrians.

In Seattle, fatal and serious collisions between bikers and pedestrians increased significantly. The Washington State Department of Transportation released a report that revealed that between 2014 and 2018, pedestrian and cyclist deaths had risen 50% from traffic collisions. Meanwhile in NYC, bicyclists have injured more than 2,250 pedestrians since 2011, and in 2018  injuries have increased by 12% — meaning 127 people were injured by cyclists in that year alone.

As cities encourage residents and commuters to protect the environment by choosing walking, cycling, or public transportation, cities need to come up with more solutions for safety.

Another aspect that contributes to accidents are poorly maintained sidewalks. Neglected sidewalks make it difficult for pedestrians to use, which sometimes causes them to walk in the street or cross the street more often. For individuals with disabilities, this is also a problem as broken sidewalks can be even more difficult to navigate, and they often can’t easily hop over a curb, relying on curb cuts to transfer from road to sidewalk.

When it comes to biking in a city, the rule of thumb is that cyclists should navigate their two-wheeled, human-powered device as though it were a four-wheeled, metal-wrapped vehicle. Establishing bicycle road rules can make cyclists less of a wild card for other commuters. However, there are times when it’s not reasonable or safe for cyclists to follow established rules.

For example, some cities have limited protected bike lanes or multi-use pathways, but to access these lanes, cyclists must ride on roads shared with cars. This requires quick shifts in mindset as the cyclist must navigate different terrains, obstacles, and dangers.

At the top of the food chain is the car, which can severely injure both cyclists and pedestrians. Meanwhile, bicycles can also cause injuries and fatalities to pedestrians. With this type of food chain, pedestrians often view cyclists to be a danger to their well-being when they must share a sidewalk. Though most people are just trying to get to work, it can sometimes feel like a fight for survival.

These sidewalk wars can only be won when cities take action to reevaluate their infrastructure and create a new way to handle foot traffic, cyclists, and motorists. For NYC, this means that cyclists are now permitted to proceed with the pedestrian walk signal, which highlights the importance of biker and pedestrian safety. Another option for safety for all commuters is the addition of dedicated bike lanes, which keeps bikers separated from pedestrians and motorists.

At StrongGo, we believe in the importance of an accessible and safe world for all. Our detectable TekWay product offers reliable and durable safety options for bike and pedestrian commuters as well as intermodal traffic on bus, streetcar, and light rail. Speak with an industry expert today by emailing csd@stronggo.com.  

Sources

https://nypost.com/2019/08/31/nyc-bicyclists-are-killing-pedestrians-and-the-city-wont-stop-it/
https://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/18/spokes-the-cyclist-pedestrian-wars/
https://mynorthwest.com/991538/seattles-war-on-pedestrians/
https://www.outsideonline.com/2401548/cyclist-pedestrian-relationship
https://www.inquirer.com/philly/opinion/commentary/bike-lanes-philadelphia-culture-war-transportation-cars-walking-20180518.html
https://nypost.com/2019/08/31/nyc-bicyclists-are-killing-pedestrians-and-the-city-wont-stop-it/
https://crosscut.com/2018/04/e-bikers-these-sidewalks-are-made-walking
https://www.theurbanist.org/2019/06/03/pedestrian-deaths-continue-to-climb-wsdot-safety-report-shows/