Riding through traffic around cars can be scary, but it’s fairly straightforward; just obey the same rules of the road that you would if you were driving. What about when you’re riding a bike around pedestrians? Are the rules different then? What can you do to keep yourself and the foot traffic around you safe?
How to Ride a Bike Around Pedestrians
There are a variety of different circumstances in which you may have to ride through foot traffic. We’ve summarized some bike safety tips about what you should do in each of the following common situations.
- Pedestrian Crossing – When people on foot cross the road, they can cause the same sort of problems as a driver crossing an intersection. Sometimes they don’t look hard enough and fail to see you, the cyclist, barreling towards them. If the person walking is legally allowed to cross, like when signaled at a cross walk, then you, same as a motorist, are required to stop. Do not try to go between people.
- Sidewalks – Unless there is a law stating otherwise, you should be allowed to ride your bike on the sidewalk. This is often where you will encounter the most foot traffic. Ride slowly, and pass pedestrians only when it is absolutely safe. Just before you pass someone, make sure to give them a heads up with a nice loud “on your left!” and possibly a little ring of your bell (we know you have one).
- Bike Lane – Bike lanes are generally reserved for cyclists, but there are some places that also allow pedestrians to make use of them. In those cases, you should still have the right of way, but be cautious.
- Bike Paths – Many bike paths are dedicated to cycling only. Pedestrians are not supposed to be on these bike-only paths, but it’s better not to assume that you won’t run into any joggers. Also, when there is a dedicated bike path, there is usually a path for pedestrians, skaters, etc. Remember that you are not supposed to use that path on your bike, just like runners aren’t supposed to be on your path.
No matter where you are riding, it’s important to stay vigilant since pedestrians can show up anywhere. Even in situations where you should have the right-of-way, it is your legal responsibility to prevent a bicycle accident.
San Diego bicycle accident attorney Frederick M. Dudek is an avid cyclist, and regularly rides his own bike to work. He understands the hardships cyclists face every day.