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Dangers of Sidewalk Riding

Counterintuitively, sidewalks are an unsafe place for bicyclists.

Sidewalk riding is very dangerous — you are invisible when on sidewalks!

Motorists are looking in the road and not for sidewalk traffic moving at high speeds, such as bicyclists. They often don’t see bicyclists there, especially at driveways and intersections. Sidewalks themselves pose dangers to bicyclists. Poor maintenance, uneven surfaces, gaps, and pedestrians make sidewalks difficult and dangerous for bicycles to navigate.

Bicyclists are never required to use sidewalks or side paths. A person lawfully operating a bicycle on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances. If you must ride on a sidewalk (and local ordinance does not prohibit it) do the following:

  • Yield to pedestrians and walk bikes in crowded areas.
  • Provide an audible approach warning by ringing your bell or calling out “passing on your left.”
  • Watch for inattentive motorists; never assume they see you.
  • Ride with the direction of traffic (on the right side of the road).
  • Ride at walking speed. Stop and yield at intersections when a pedestrian would.

For further detail, see number 19 in the Mn Bicycle Laws FAQ found here.

BikeMN recommends children under age 10 ride on sidewalks and under the leadership of an adult, as they may not have the cognitive development to make the decisions necessary to safely ride in the street. Extra caution should be used at driveways and intersections, following the same rules as if on the road.