California Forum

The Conversation feedback: On a mission to get bikes off sidewalks

Hilary Abramson’s article about being injured by a bicycle rider cruising on a downtown sidewalk and her mission to draw attention to the issue sparked a huge outpouring of letters to the editor and online comments. She checked into the city codes, asked the cops about enforcement and talked to city planners about possible solutions. Sacramento is certainly a bike friendly city, but as the streets and sidewalks get more crowded a conflict between cyclists, pedestrians and automobiles has grown. Last week’s Conversation asked two questions: Does Sacramento need protected bicycle lanes? And should there be fines for riding a bike on a city sidewalk?


Enforce the law and post signs

Re “ On a mission to get bikes off sidewalks” (Forum, Aug. 17): I’ve long been appalled by the frequent presence of people riding their bikes on crowded downtown sidewalks. In fact, even the police officers from the bike unit seem to do it regularly. Walking the three blocks from my office to the Capital Athletic Club, it is highly unusual to not have at least one bike pass close by me on the sidewalk.

As Hilary Abramson points out, riding a bike on the sidewalk is a violation of the California Vehicle Code. Typically, there are consequences for violation of the law, and it doesn’t make any sense for this to be an exception, particularly given the threat it presents to public safety.

Not only should the law be enforced and fines be imposed, but there should be readily visible signs posted stating that riding on the sidewalk is prohibited and that violators will be cited.

Jessica McGuire, Sacramento

Riding on street too dangerous

I frequently have to ride along Stockton Boulevard between T Street and Second Avenue to get to and from meetings at my place of employment. If you think I am going to ride in the street with cars whizzing past going 40 mph and 6 inches from my foot, you have another thing coming.

While I sympathize with Hilary Abramson, she failed to report any statistics of auto vs. bike fatalities and injuries in Sacramento because that would not support the point she is trying to make. I don’t have those statistics, but I will bet you there are more bicyclists killed and injured by automobiles than pedestrians killed and injured by bicyclists.

Until the streets are made safe to ride on, you cannot demand that bicyclists not use the sidewalk.

Dianne Gregory, Sacramento

Bike lanes are already available

Hilary Abramson was smart to bring readers’ attention to the alarming number of bicycles weaving in and out of pedestrian traffic in the central city. As one who traverses Capitol Mall and L Street with great frequency, I marvel at the disregard of those on bikes for the safety of those afoot.

Yes, the City Council should move to adopt an ordinance to prohibit the use of bicycles on sidewalks, given the number of bike lanes already available.

Jackson R. Gualco, Gold River

Concern for an elderly neighbor

Hilary Abramson’s article was a chilling account of what I fear could happen to my neighbor, Helen, who, at the cusp of 100 years old, finds a daily meditation in sweeping her driveway and sidewalk. With poor hearing and eyesight, she is no match for encounters with idiots riding their bikes on the sidewalk.

Having served many years working with former Sens. Thomas Kuchel and Alan Cranston, she is no stranger to the effectiveness of implementing meaningful laws and fines against those who refuse to abide with the bike lanes already provided, much less a protected lane.

Steve Hansen, are you listening?

Miles K. Hermann,

Rancho Cordova

Can’t pay me to move back

I was thrilled to read Hilary Abramson’s article in The Bee about getting bikes off the sidewalks. I, and my 16-pound dog, have been almost hit more times downtown than I can remember.

I lived at Fifth and N streets and walked my dog five to 10 blocks to Capitol Park every morning and evening, and I cannot tell you how many times bikes came racing around corners and almost killed my dog. When I would yell at them about riding on the street, I saw and heard everything from middle fingers to cursing at me to one person who told me to mind my own business.

I moved out of downtown to Elk Grove and there are no bikes on sidewalks here. You couldn’t pay me to go back downtown.

Cynthia Hearden, Elk Grove

Police need to act

I walk 20 to 40 blocks daily on downtown Sacramento sidewalks and strongly support Hilary Abramson’s opinion piece in Forum. Bikes and pedestrians in the same confined space lead to serious injuries. One experience includes nearly being run down from behind by a bicyclist and his large, leashed dog.

Police in the urban core must act because a pedestrian can’t react to something he or she cannot see and hear. If local officials are going to encourage active transportation, they must accept responsibility.

Robert J. Gore, Dixon

Suburb walkways a danger, too

Re “Bicyclists: Be more careful” (Letters, Aug. 16) and “On a mission to get bikes off sidewalks” (Forum, Aug. 17): Two days in a row, The Bee published a letter to the editor and then an article about two pedestrians sustaining severe injuries from collisions with bicyclists; one on a bike path and the other on a Sacramento city street. City streets are hazardous, but so are suburban walkways.

As a walker in west Roseville, I have had one collision and three near-collisions in the past two years. The cyclists are usually older teens and young adults, earbud-deaf, speeding on the sidewalks and failing to signal that they are behind walkers. The streets are wide and the bike lanes very ample.

California Department of Motor Vehicles says, “Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicle and motorcycle drivers.” No one should need to risk debilitating injury due to irresponsible bicyclists, just to get a little exercise.

Donna Pieper, Roseville

Some cyclists won’t obey rules

I am 88 years old. I need to walk each day, but the sidewalks are quickly becoming unsafe for me to do so. Bicyclists whiz past me, and though I stick to the correct side of the sidewalk, I can never count on bicyclists to obey the rules. I never have had trouble with people who bike in from home going to work. They use the bicycle lanes and are familiar with the rules of the road.

One day, as I was exiting a bus on 18th and J streets, a man came past me so fast and just barely missed hitting me. When I said something about it, he was disrespectful. There is no way he could have missed seeing the bus stopped there or the unloading ramp I came down on.

Doris E. Flair, Sacramento

Just observe rules and the road

There is no reasonable argument for violating multiple traffic code sections that would permit cars to drive on sidewalks. The same is true for the operation of bicycles.

I share the author’s concern about bicycle safety but not her rationale. The number of bicycle vs. auto collisions would be greatly reduced if cyclists would just observe traffic rules of the road. It’s real simple: Ride on the correct side of the road and in the correct direction. Obey stop and yield signs, and pay attention to the vehicle and foot traffic around you.

Ma Figueroa, Sacramento

From Facebook

Andy Alexis – The only way to get bicycle riders to obey the laws is to give tickets out to those who don’t. (Spoken as a 20-year bicycle commuter.)

Sarah Silvernail – Sacramento for sure needs some literacy in regards to cycles and vehicles coexisting. I have this conversation with people all the time. While I would love to see protected bike lanes, I think a great place to start is education. Many cyclists and drivers do not know their responsibilities as such. I am annoyed with cyclists on sidewalks, but I also realize it can be seriously dangerous to ride in a community with a large automobile population with drivers who do not understand or practice road sharing. That being said, the cyclists who cross intersections illegally, ride on the wrong side of the road and on sidewalks are, in my opinion, making it more difficult for the cyclists who follow the protocols. I would love to see more enforcement, but on the same token, if we aren’t providing a safe community and opportunity for all our commuters, it will be impossible to create a consistent platform of regulations to enforce.

Melanie Haage – Every day I have to avoid cyclists on the sidewalk. And there’s a bike lane right there!

Kristina Halvorsen – In Copenhagen, a bike friendly city, they have several ways to keep bicyclists and pedestrians safe. In some sections of the city, the sidewalks have a painted line down the center; one side is for pedestrians, one side is for bicyclists. Copenhagen also has painted bike lanes on the street with their own signal lights that help when bikes and cars make left and right turns.

Anna Sawyer – I’d rather bike on a sidewalk and pay a fine than ride on the streets; Sac has horrible drivers.

Jennifer Stauff – In the 10 years that I’ve lived in midtown Sacramento, I’ve had seven collisions with sidewalk bicyclists. Not once have I gotten so much as an apology. Two times I was cursed at for being in their way.

Kari Marie – The fact that I can’t ride my bike on a sidewalk and that so many major thoroughfares lack dedicated bike lanes are the reasons why I rarely ride my bike around downtown. I’d rather walk or drive. I’ve seen far, far more near-collisions between bikers and cars than I have between bikers and pedestrians. I’ve seen irresponsible bikers on both road and sidewalk, but in my experience, sidewalk riders aren’t usually riding as fast as road cyclists, and many of them will call out to you when they want to pass you.

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