I’m sure we’ve all seen it or experienced it a time or 10 here in Indy. Walking down the sidewalk (when there is one available) and someone either comes at you on a bike, or brushes past you from behind on a bike. Some go fast, some go slow but the fact that they are cycling ON THE SIDEWALK is the point I wish to examine with this post.
I have thought about this one for a long time but a recent brush really called me to action. I was crossing West Street to get to classes at IUPUI. I saw someone riding up the sidewalk of West Street and when I got across, we were in close proximity to one another. He turned and went another way, then apparently changed his mind and turned around and almost mowed me down. I did not stop walking so I don’t know if he though I was going to stop for him or what, but I put my hands up and grabbed his handlebars and angrily pointed at the now freshly re-painted bike lane on Michigan Street and said, “You’ve got lane for this thing, watch where you’re going.”
Was I in the right? According to the City of Indianapolis, the cyclist technically did nothing wrong. I’ve been unable to find any code city or state, that prevents someone from cycling on a sidewalk. In fact, all that I could find about sidewalks period was in the state code and it states that MOTORIZED bikes are allowed on sidewalks provided they do not interfere with pedestrians.
Whatever the case, as Indy grows it’s cycling culture, more people are getting out and pedaling to their destination. I have no issues with that whatsoever. What I DO take issue with, is that pedestrians again, must be the ones who have to take it in the hind end when someone on wheels, whether it be bikes or a car, decides that they aren’t happy with the current conditions. Case in point, the Michigan bike lanes. Are they dangerous? You can ask 50 people and the odds of that person saying the Michigan Street lane is unsafe are good. We have debated the merits here over and over again. So, when a cyclist gets onto the sidewalk on Michigan, I get it. But in the same breath, I don’t get it. There are other slower streets such as Ohio, Vermont as well as others that one can get across town. These streets are two way, slower, and generally I consider them to be more safe for cyclists to ride with traffic. Is it so much to ask them to move to those streets if they feel Michigan is unsafe?
I may be breaking ranks with my fellow cycling advocates and maybe even with fellow members of this site. With a budding cycling culture, there are likely to be head-butting conflicts such as those that I have described. Having a healthy conversation about how cyclists should be using the streets and sidewalks, is good for all of us.