I Should Really Follow My Own Advice

By Josh Cohen September 22, 2010

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I came damn close to getting creamed last Friday and it wouldn't of happened if I'd just listened to my own brilliant BikeNerd advice.

I've covered the subject of bicycling on the sidewalk several times. While it is technically legal and can be convenient at times, it's generally a bad idea. Drivers don't expect bicycles on the sidewalks, don't look for them, and as a result, are more likely to hit a bicyclist when pulling into or out of a driveway or making a turn onto a street.

I was riding through South Lake Union on the way to a friend's house last Friday eveningĀ  (it was pouring rain and dark and generally pretty miserable if you'll recall). I was riding east/northeast on the Chesiahud Trail, that weird half-assed sidewalk bike path that parallels Valley St and Eastlake Ave.

I normally ride on the trail to skip the miserable section of Valley between Eastlake and Mercer, then merge onto Eastlake. The light changed right as I got to my usual merge point at the intersection of Valley and Eastlake, so I decided to go one more block on the "trail."

I slowed almost to a stop as I came to the Daniels Steakhouse parking lot driveway. There was a car stopped, waiting to merge right into the line of cars on Eastlake. But, the car was completely stopped, there were no breaks in traffic for him to merge into, so I started to pedal into the intersection. As I did, traffic moved, a spot opened up, and the driver gunned it. Thankfully he noticed me at the last second (my neon orange rain coat and Planet Bike Beamer 5 headlight certainly helped my cause) and slammed on his brakes. I slammed on mine. His front bumper stopped three inches from my front wheel. It was scary.

I wasn't riding recklessly, the driver wasn't being particularly negligent (sure he could have given another look before pulling out, but the multi-use trail just looks like a sidewalk and doesn't really send out the message "look out for bikes!," plus there was the whole dark and rainy thing). But, the entire situation would have been avoided completely had I been riding on the road. Sure, there are still plenty of ways to get hit riding on the road (ask Josh F. how many times he's been doored), but the risk of a similar T-boning situation is significantly less when you're off the sidewalk.
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