Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mo clear on sidewalks

My conditional disapproval of bicycles on sidewalks could have been more clear, so let me try again.

It's OK when the sidewalk is explicitly marked for bicycle use (q.v. some of Boston's bridges over the Charles). That assumes the cyclist is going to yield right of way to pedestrians when necessary and otherwise behave responsibly. It may be OK in the example I mentioned in my reply. Salem's Riley Plaza is surrounded by sidewalks which are most often deserted, and has roadways distinctly unfriendly to bikes, but the alternatives on my route are even worse. When I take to the sidewalk here, it is at jogging speed and if it's empty. Otherwise I get off and walk.

What is never OK is what I infer is happening along Route 107, an undivided 4-lane road with both good paved shoulders and sidewalks. That is, cyclists ought not to use a sidewalk as a bike path just because it's there, and then operate at urban cruising speed (12 mph and up). It seems to me that the cyclist has rights on the roadway, but is a guest on the sidewalk, and ought to behave as such.

Still, heaven help us, too many Massachusetts cyclists ride like Massachusetts drivers drive, and Massachusetts pedestrians walk: chances are, they are both. Cluelessness and a reckless sense of entitlement, on the part of any users of Massachusetts' public ways, leave those of us trying to make this right tearing our hair out in despair. Inhabitants of many other states seem not to have this brain freeze when they hit the public pavement. Their example suggests that getting the mix right is possible for human beings.

I have an acquaintance who is known for aggressive vigilantism when he rides. I don't know if that's what it takes, in the absence of law enforcement that can't be bothered to keep the playing field level. It sounds worthwhile for me to take a look at 107 to see what's up.

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