Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Motorists impede cycling traffic

I whipped off this weakly written missive today in response to an article in the Wisconsin State Journal about motorists who are impatient with child cyclists going to and from school in Cottage Grove:

I don't know if the writer or the editor was responsible for the oversight, but I was disappointed to see a list of complaints at the article's end that children should be riding on the sidewalk, while no mention was made that children are not required to ride on sidewalks according to Wisconsin law. (In many municipalities, they are forbidden from doing so.) Cyclists are always permitted to ride in the road unless the road specifically prohibits such traffic (such as marked highways).

In any case, sidewalks aren't actually safer than roads. In fact, they may be more dangerous because drivers are less likely to see them as they approach driveways and intersections. The League of American Bicyclists has a lot of info about this; here is one example from their "biking myths" list.

Not to mention that cycling on sidewalks presents a hazard to pedestrians.

Children certainly need to learn the rules of the road and how to conduct themselves safely and predictably in traffic. They also need their governments to build bike paths before their schools are built, just as roads are built before construction. Teaching kids to ride on the sidewalk is not the answer.

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