Biking rules in town- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Biking rules in town

    To all you fellow cyclists--I am new to mountain biking. I took it up because I wanted to remain active while having something I could both do on my own and with friends. I just read the "Rules of the Road", but I will admit I have been riding sidewalks (for 2 weeks now since I first got my bike) and crosswalks not fully knowing those rules. First, I notice a massive majority of cyclists in North Dakota (Grand Forks, to be exact) ride on sidewalks. Granted, most of these cyclists are families, parents, kids, recreational cyclists, etc.), but I rarely ever see cyclists riding on roads. Personally, it will feel very foreign to me riding on roads with cars. My question to you guys...in town...is it ok to ride city streets on sidewalks as you ride to your destination (paved trails, XC trails, etc.), or are should cyclists always ride on the road with motorists. Personally I feel rather intimidated on the road since most motorists have a tendency to have little patience for cyclists (not to mention the fact I don't trust motorists nearly as much these days with all the modern conveniences such as phones, GPS, etc.). You opinions would mean a lot.

  2. #2
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    Well here in Australia if theres a road, cyclists must use it. I normally use whatever has less traffic or faster flow traffic to get from A to B. In most cases it would be on and off the road. But im always aware of my surroundings and ride it safe.
    I dont ride it like many idiots bringing us a bad name!!

  3. #3
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    I think that in most instances sidewalks are more dangerous than roads. Most motorists are not ready for something moving as fast as a bike on the sidewalk, they don't stop at the stop sign and block your path or hit you, don't look before turning etc.

    But I also live in a fairly cyclist friendly town, and we have a quite a few bike lanes, your area may be different.

  4. #4
    Ibexbiker
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    I think it also depends on the locations of sidewalks. If it is a residential area in front of houses it is probably not as big a deal as if it were the sidewalk in front of businesses with people coming and going. Although if it is a residential area be careful of the cars backing out of driveways.
    I would say that unless you have kids with you it would be a good idea to get used to riding the road. Start on roads that don't get much traffic so it is easier for those cars to pull over and give you room, that is assumming that they will move over. But you will only be passed occassionally and you can build your confidence up with that and then if you need to you can venture out on roads that are busier. I also purchased a third eye mirror this year to clip on my glasses. This has boosted my confidence on busier sections because you can see cars coming and make adjustments to your riding to stay safer.

  5. #5
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    those are some good tips ibex.

  6. #6
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    I stay off the sidewalks unless it is a shortcut through the urban jungle to get to where I'm going (i.e. through the shopping center parking lot, hop over the curb onto the sidewalk to ride it for 50 feet to get over to the access road behind the shopping center, down the access road to the main road, down the main road to the alleyway to get over to the next road where my destination is.

    Generally I carefully plan my commute routes out to have the shortest distance possible. I have no qualms at all about cutting across parking lots, but I only ride on sidewalks the minimum amount possible, and never through crosswalks (I either get off and walk, or ride on the side in the traffic que.) And no matter what, pedistrians have the right of way.... unfortunately even when they are stupidly walking right in the middle of the bicycle path.

  7. #7
    I'm SUCH a square....
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    Check the websites for the state as well as the city where you live. Nothing's exactly the same from one to another.

    Where I am, NE Hoosier, the sidewalk is acceptable except for 'business districts', defined as having no residences within 500 feet on any block. My state has the FRAP law, which is universally misinterpreted as basically one pedal over the curb. At least 1-2x/year, I will have a verbal with a driver who believes, with all heart & soul, that bikes belong on the sidewalk. Personally, I prefer side streets, secondary arteries, etc. I couldn't care less about 'the shortest route', as a longer one just means I ride more! Presently, I live 2 miles from work, and rarely ride straight in; I'll do 5-9 miles on my commute in, as well as home.

    I respect cars, as they can easily put me down for the long count, but I'm not afraid of them. Any driver that tries to intimidate me on the roads is gonna have his hands full.

    Take a little extra time, explore a little, use the commute to see what's there. I can promise a brighter outlook once you get to the 'grindstone'.
    A bike is the only drug with no bad side effects....

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the tips guys. I just did my first bit of road riding today. I did, as you said, take less traveled roads...and I was honestly relatively confident riding the roads...it wasn't nearly as bad as I was anticipating. I will continue to ride the smaller roads to build confidence....and hopefully soon I will be confidence enough to ride on more traveled roads.

  9. #9
    local trails rider
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    Rules (laws etc.) vary between locations.
    What exactly is safe varies possibly even more.

    I have pretty good paths for most of my commuting and other "useful" riding.
    Less busy streets are generally a good idea: there's fewer cars passing me and the ones that do have a lot of room to go around me.

    Be predictable, be visible, behave like a car.

  10. #10
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    Thou hast opened up a big can of worms.

    Laws vary from place to place.

    I'm usually on the road, but I'll modulo that with some common sense. For example, the road through my town used to be four lanes with no shoulder at all. I would often ride the sidewalk (or sometimes hop over to a parallel, back alley), but in that case the sidewalk is one that saw little foot- and bike-traffic. Riding it for that one stretch was a judgment call on my part.

    Now my town has repaved the road, made it two lanes plus a left-turn lane, and they've painted in bike lanes. Woot! The result is way-cool. I have plenty of room now to stay safely in the road. Plus, the new pavement is way smoother than the sidewalk. I couldn't be happier.

    Bottom line, I guess, is that I would generally ride on the road, but not all roads are designed to be safe for bicyclists.

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