You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 6:05 a.m.

Ann Arbor bicyclist's dilemma: Ride on the street or the sidewalk?

By John Garcia


A man bikes down the sidewalk next to South University Avenue in Ann Arbor.

Angela J. Cesere |

Chris Marble rarely feels unsafe on his bike, but a recent Sunday was an exception.

Marble, a 71-year-old retired schoolteacher, was riding his bike on North Main Street in Ann Arbor. Suddenly, he was in heavy traffic from a University of Michigan basketball game.

"It wasn’t that bad, but I wouldn’t want to do it over and over again,” Marble said. "The drivers were nice. ... I don’t remember anybody cutting me close or blasting their horn or giving me the one finger peace sign.”


  • Bike lanes offer a measure of safety, but aren't always maintained, riders say
  • Though Marble managed to safely navigate the traffic hazard, the result can be tragic when bikes and cars share the road. Two riders died last year in Washtenaw County when cars hit their bikes. And 96 bike riders were involved in crashes last year. It might be enough to make a bicyclist wonder whether riding on the sidewalk would be a safer bet than navigating the street.

    Not usually, safety experts say.

    “If you consult the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code, it says bicyclists shouldn’t ride on the sidewalk. But it generally depends on who the bicyclist is, said Josh DeBruyn, the bicycle and pedestrian coordinator of the Michigan Department of Transportation. "Do you want your 6-year-old son riding on the road? Probably not ... there is no one answer.”

    DeBruyn said sidewalks have more intersections than roads, and drivers may not see bikers riding on the sidewalk as they approach an intersection.

    “It’s definitely safer in the street," said John Lindenmayer, the associate director of the League of Michigan Bicyclists. "On the sidewalk, every one of those curb cuts can cause an accident."


    Campus Student Bike Shop owner Bill Loy stands inside of the South Forest Avenue location in Ann Arbor.

    Angela J. Cesere |

    Sidewalks can have a lot of uneven surfaces, he added. And drivers pulling in and out of driveways may not be looking on the sidewalk for quick-moving traffic. "You have a lot more room to maneuver in the road and you’re more in sight of the cars ... . You’re more predictable,” Lindenmayer said.

    It's legal for bikers to be ride in either the road or on the sidewalk in Ann Arbor, the Police Department said. But Bill Loy the owner of Campus Student Bikes, said bike lanes are the best way to go when they’re available.

    “Unless there is a big utility truck coming by it’s pretty safe in the bike path. People seem to pay attention to it,” Loy said. But Loy also said bikers would be wise to do other things to increase their visibility and safety.

    “It’s important to have a light on your bike," he said. "If they wear dark clothes, and it’s misty rainy you can’t see them."

    Don Broadway, chairman of the board of directors for the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society, which organizes daily bicycle rides, said bike lanes do afford riders more room and safety than roads without them, but he said they are often filled with debris this time of year.

    “We’re paying taxes and would be nice to see that taxpayer money out there to maintain the shoulders and the roadways,” Broadway said. His groups try to choose roads with the best shoulders and lower traffic.

    Carl Sundstrom a program specialist with the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, which researches bicycle and pedestrian issues at the University of North Carolina, said research shows bike lanes increase safety, especially on higher speed roads.

    “Cities that install bike lanes are seeing more cyclists and less of a crash rate," he said. "You may see an increase in the number of crashes (as more people ride bikes), but the crash rate is going down."

    Marble said common sense goes a long way in keeping riders safe.

    “Be visible, ride predictable and obey the road laws," he said. "Act like a driver. That seems to be the most sensible thing for a bicyclist to do and that’s what I try to do when I’m out there. I don’t try to put myself in unsafe situations.”

    John Garcia is a freelance writer for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.



    Tue, Apr 13, 2010 : 11:26 a.m.

    Could someone direct me to the bicyclist's rules of the road? As a driver, my biggest problem with bicyclists is consistency. I cannot predict what the bicyclist may do - as I can with another driver - because they all seem to adhere to their own cherry-picked set of rules. Do all drivers obey the driving rules? Of course not! But we all know what the rules are, and what we should expect. I think the same expectation should be made of bicyclists who share the road.


    Sat, Apr 10, 2010 : 12:57 p.m.

    I have an idea.. make the bike riders get a license too.. have a tag on their they know the laws of riding.. maybe then us car drivers wont always be at fault when something happens..


    Fri, Apr 9, 2010 : 9:26 p.m.

    A great source describing Act 51: - "Act 51 Made Simple", from MDOT. On page 3: "Maintenance includes snow removal, cleaning, patching, signing, and marking, in addition to preservation, reconstruction, resurfacing, restoration and rehabilitation." Note that while the city says, "Winter maintenance of on-road bike lanes is performed in conjunction with operations on the adjacent road." (, in reality many of the bike lanes become snow storage in the winter. I know the Plymouth and Pontiac bike lanes become completely unusable most of the winter. There is no attempt to maintain them. Also, street sweeping of bike lanes is only done as part of regular street sweeping. There is no plan or attempt to provide extra sweeping on roads with bike lanes. Snow removal and street cleaning are some of the maintenance activities cited by MDOT as paid for with Act 51 funding. As far as I can tell, bike lanes don't receive extra maintenance, except for repair and reconstruction work, which is funded from the multiple sources cited before.


    Fri, Apr 9, 2010 : 8:49 p.m.

    Submitten - The easiest reference to find is at the WBWC website: It's in the "Successful Bicycle Planning" report, done by the Urban and Regional Research Collaborative of the UM Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. See p23. It cites Census data from the 1990 census, with 2% of work trips by bicycle and 17% by walking in Ann Arbor. I've seen newer data, but I think this will do for now. WRT federal matching funding for bike facilities, you should start here: That's the recently updated policy statement from US DOT encouraging bicycle facilities. Here's Transportation Secretary LaHood's recent blog entry on the topic: Don't know if that's what you have in mind. WRT maintenance, it depends on what you mean by maintenance. If you mean street sweeping and lane repainting, you're right, those are local operation funding. If by "maintenance" you mean repair and reconstruction, which is what the person you quoted talked about, then that money comes from the various sources I and others cited. Please clarify what you mean. Finally, having driven both our car and truck today (but not my bike for a change, though my wife took her bike this morning), I see nothing wrong with my gas tax money going to nonmotorized transportation facilities like bike lanes, which help the roads last longer, reduce congestion, and improve my community. If you don't like that, please take it up with your legislators.


    Fri, Apr 9, 2010 : 1:38 p.m.

    KJMClark- The intent of my comment was not to takes sides with either cars or bikes or pedestrians. It was in response to the taxpayer entitlement comment quoted in the story. I was trying to introduce the issue of limited resources. The fact is that Ann Arbor does not currently have the resources to properly maintain its bike lanes. The cost of a one-time bike license in Ann Arbor has been $8 for decades. The revenue goes into the general fund. Council is moving to eliminate the program. My suggestions about registrations and licenses for bikes were made with that knowledge. The "road repair" millage is for resurfacing and reconstruction projects. It can not, and should not, be used for routine maintenance. Bike lanes can, and have been, *added* as part of resurfacing projects. Your point that "Ann Arbor bicyclists pay a road millage already" is true but, with regard to bike lane maintenance, is also irrelevent. Yes, the state requires that 1% of Act 51 funds be used for non-motorized transportation. My point was that Ann Arbor spends five times that expanding its non-motorized transportation system while it has no sustainable revenue to maintain it. Can you substantiate that "over 15% of the trips in Ann Arbor are non-motorized?" What is the definition you're using for "non-motorized trips?" As far as federal government matching funds, again, what is your source? More importantly, if you're referring to *expansion* projects, then that still leaves the issue of maintenance funds unaddressed. I really don't have an opinion on where bikes should ride and where they shouldn't. I think it's a complicated question. I just feel that the city should be able to safely maintain its bike lanes if it's going to keep expanding them.


    Fri, Apr 9, 2010 : 9:41 a.m.

    If we were all following the same laws of traffic behavior it would be a lot easier on everyone. Unfortunately, I don't see that behavior from either bicyclists or drivers. The difference is that when a driver is behaving erratically it's easier to spot - because a car is bigger and easier to see than a bike. But, I have held my breath as a bicyclist mother with a toddler in the seat behind her suddenly, and without signaling, swerved across a lane of traffic to make a left turn. I've seen bicyclists dart into my lane because the bicycle lane was full of garbage. I've also seen drivers acting like bullies by coming right up behind a bike, then hitting the horn for no good reason. I've seen drivers swerve to the right to scare a bicyclist riding in a perfectly legal bike lane. None of this behavior is acceptable. Just as drivers have to learn how to follow laws, so bicyclists should know what their responsibilities are in traffic. No one wants to cause an accident or take a life. We all have to look out for each other.


    Fri, Apr 9, 2010 : 7:31 a.m.

    Bikers are safer in the street if they observe traffic laws. Unfortunately in Ann Arbor most do not. I see bikers run stop signs and red lights every day.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 7:52 p.m.

    CycloChemist... Yes WBWC is tireless in the work of advocacy of non-motorized transportation. However, it's unfair to shame Mr. Garcia who diligently contacted local bike shop, local bike club AABTS, Ann Arbor police and the state/regional LMB. Unscrew that presta valve and let a little air out of the ego...


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 7:14 p.m.

    Haven't read all the 51 comments so far but, shame on Mr. Garcia for not including an interview with a member of the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition, a local active transportation advocacy group that is working on many fronts to improve bicycling and pedestrian safety in Ann Arbor and surrounding communities. Learn more at, where you can learn about tomorrow's Ride Around Town (RAT!).

    Rick C.

    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 7:14 p.m.

    Glad to see some actual statistics to back up the greater safety of riding in the street! Regarding road repair taxes, keep in mind how much less damage is inflicted on the roads per passenger mile by bicycles than by cars. If I ride my bike to work, I'm putting less than 250 pounds of weight on the road; if I drive to work, I'm putting on the order of 10 times that much pressure on that stretch of road, not to mention the extra air pollution and use of oil.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 6:02 p.m.

    Trublue76 - the two to four times as dangerous as biking in the street is from crash statistic analyses. Ken Kifer did a nice write-up on the lack of danger of cycling here: He cites the Federal Highway Administration Crash-Type Manual for Bicyclists, which you can find here: You can find the Wachtel and Lewiston study that found the two times and four times greater danger on the sidewalks here: I've seen at least three significant studies that concluded all or part of that danger risk. I can look them up if you're interested. BTW, the crash studies find that biking on the right-hand sidewalk (on the sidewalk in the same direction as traffic) is two times as dangerous as biking on the right-hand side in the street, and biking on the left-hand sidewalk (against the flow of adjacent traffic) is four times as dangerous as biking with the flow of traffic in the street. The increased danger is due to intersections, and every curb cut is an intersection on the sidewalk.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 6:01 p.m.

    Submitten (cross-posted from the bike lanes discussion) - In Ann Arbor, at least, there is a bicycle license required, and cyclists do pay a fee. Ann Arbor also has a road repair millage, which everyone here pays whether or not they drive a motor vehicle. Also, Michigan law requires every jurisdiction receiving state weight and gas tax money (Act 51) to spend at least 1% of that money on non-motorized transportation facilities, primarily things like bike lanes. Note that Act 51 money is distributed on the bases of street miles and population in a jurisdiction, not how much the people there use motor vehicles. Since over 15% of the trips in Ann Arbor are non-motorized transportation trips, AA decided to spend 5% of our Act 51 money on non-motorized transportation facilities. So, Ann Arbor bicyclists pay a license fee already, Ann Arbor bicyclists pay a road repair millage already, and the State of Michigan requires, by law, that we spend at least 1% of the money we get from the state for things like bike lanes. And did I mention that the federal government is more likely to match funds for things like bike lanes? Also, there are only a few shared-use paths in Ann Arbor, and no "bike paths". There are lots of wide asphalt sidewalks, but under our non-motorized plan, they aren't bike facilities. Shared-use paths are supposed to be 10' wide and up, and along a separate right-of-way from roads. "Bike paths" are supposed to be like shared-use paths, but for bicyclists *only* - no pedestrians allowed. Seen any of those recently?


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 4:48 p.m.

    "People should not be riding bicycles on the sidewalk. It's a side"walk" not a side"ride". Does this mean we should park on the parkway and drive only on driveways? Was I supposed to be high when I went on the highway? Give me a break. I can't wait to see all the 6-year olds riding on Stadium...

    Rex Roof

    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 2:55 p.m.

    The only times I've been hurt on my bike, I was riding on sidewalks or through pedestrian walkways on streets. Bicycles shouldn't be ridden on sidewalks. Having said that, I often ride my bike on sidewalks when I'm less than a block from my location or it facilitates me getting to where I want to go. Also, I agree with a lot of what this cyclist states:


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 1:46 p.m.

    Peyton & Jackson72 - The one time I pass motorists on the right, which is fairly frequently, is when I'm using the bike lane on Plymouth and one or more motorists has been a jerk to me or is stopped in the bike lane... I figure that if cars can pass me on the left without waiting for a passing zone or giving a full lane, then I can pass them on the right when they're stopped waiting for a light. There's no reason not to go forward up to the light as opposed to sitting at the right rear corner of a car breathing exhaust fumes. But you have to be careful about not getting in the way of cars turning right on red. I can never figure out why when I'm riding along near the curb and cars treat that like a virtual bike lane when it's convenient for *them* (passing me without moving over), but then don't expect me to treat it like a virtual lane when it's convenient for me (when there's a line of stopped traffic). I guarantee it's safer for me to pass stopped cars on the right than moving cars to pass me on the left while staying in the lane. Mostly, though, I get around town neither without using bike lanes, sidewalks, or riding on busy streets -- I use low-traffic, low-speed neighborhood streets to get where I'm going, and it works fine. Almost anywhere you want to go, there's a good way to get there without riding on Huron, Main, Stadium, Washtenaw, etc.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 1:45 p.m.

    Since people form both sides have an elitist attitude there will never be any common ground on this issue. Oh, and maybe the bikers could set aside a saturday morning and sweep up their own lanes.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 12:47 p.m.

    Were paying taxes and would be nice to see that taxpayer money out there to maintain the shoulders and the roadways, Broadway said." Sounds good, however, the funds for maintaining the right-of-way come from the State in the form of Weight and Gas Tax revenue sharing. This means the only ones paying taxes to maintain the bike lanes are motorists. They pay for it at the pump. Recently, the State has had to cut back on the "sharing" part of the equation leaving fewer funds for maintenance. Despite this, the current City of Ann Arbor leadership sees fit to cyphon 5% of annual weight & gas tax revenue to EXPAND the bicycle transportation system - which includes bike *PATHS* (eight-foot width vs. five-foot for sidewalks). This leaves fewer resources for maintaining the roads for both cars and bikes. Services such as street sweeping, snow removal and pot hole repairs are all affected. Does it make sense to expand a system without having the resources to maintain it? Perhaps a productive result of this debate could be to come up with alternative revenue sources for maintaining the bike lanes and paths (including snow and debris removal). How about limiting travel in bike lanes to bicycles with city-issued licenses? Require bicyclists to complete bicycle-safety training? Require them to carry bike operators licenses? Collect a modest fee designated for bike lane maintenance? Channel funds from violations to a maintenance program, as well? Require all bicyclists, whether on the road or not, to have proof of bike-safety training? As motorists, we all have to renew both our driver's licenses and vehicle registrations every year (plus, carry costly insurance). Is it unfair to ask the same of the bike-riding population? I'm hopeful that my comments will generate some better ideas?

    Peter A Webb

    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 12:40 p.m.

    I don't bike in AA, but I have nothing against people who do it safely, and I appreciate what they are doing for the environment. That said, bikers in the road should behave like cars, and bikers on sidewalks should behave like pedestrians. On the road, this means stopping in line at stoplights and stop signs, as one commenter mentioned above. I almost hit a bike rider once when he tried to pass me on the right in the street. He was on my right in my blind spot, not behind me, as a car would have been. I signaled and got ready to make a right hand turn. I saw him JUST in time to avoid hitting him. He seemed pretty peeved and I probably would have been too if I had almost died. But it was still his fault. There was no bike lane. I had no reason to check for him. I am not omniscient. Also, if you are biking on the sidewalk, you can't expect to be safe if you approach and cross intersections at high speed. When I am making a turn in a car, I have to check that there is no oncoming traffic, no pedestrian crossing the intersection from the left, and no pedestrian crossing it from the right. If it only takes you a fraction of a second to enter my field of view and then get in front of my car, you might enter it after I have checked the direction you are coming from but after I initiate a turn. I have to be able to assume that people using the pedestrian right-of-way are moving at a relatively safe speed, otherwise I could never turn. Drive and bike safely.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 12:02 p.m.

    Craig - I have biked on every single road that people mention here as a "death trap", and prefer to bike on the road in every example. If you still think you have more control on the sidewalk, you should consider talking a League of American Bicyclists Road I course. And yes, I've biked on Packard south of Washtenaw recently and had no problems. I really think that experienced cyclists talk about the road problems as "harassment", and inexperienced cyclists talk about the same situation as "danger". The more you bike on the roads, the more you see that most of the problem is bad passing on the part of some motorists (10% or so), and downright bullying from some others (5% or so). (Catch that, fun ball?) Atticus, two of the most recent cyclist deaths I know of happened on sidewalks. One of them was in Kalamazoo, IIRC, where a cyclist hit a pedestrian and then lost control of her bike, crashed and died. In another case a person at my office died while biking with a dog on leash. Most of the car crashes on sidewalks result in destroyed bikes and injuries, sometimes severe, and sometimes severe enough to kill. The sidewalk crashes are *much* more numerous though. Peyton & Jackson72 - The one time I pass motorists on the right, which is fairly frequently, is when I'm using the bike lane on Plymouth and one or more motorists has been a jerk to me or is stopped in the bike lane (which happens several times per week). I see nothing wrong with passing motorists when I'm in a bike lane, but in this situation I prefer to just get out of the bike lane and get in line before the light. In this case, at Upland, the bike disappears after the intersection, so there's not much point in using the disappearing bike lane except to pass motorists on the right. I have to merge into the right lane at some point anyway.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 12:02 p.m.

    As a pedestrian, I have almost been hit numerous times by bicyclists on the sidewalk (in fact, I was almost hit yesterday in the rain by a bicyclist). I appreciate people wanting to ride their bikes, and I'd love it if Ann Arbor put up and maintained bike lanes better. Until then, stop trying to hit me with your bike!


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 11:51 a.m.

    Very little here addresses the safety of pedestrians on sideWALKS. As a newcomer to Ann Arbor, a frequent biker and very frequent walker, I'm amazed at the low level of courtesy bicyclists afford pedestrians. Daily as I walk on Packard with my two dogs, we are forced off the sidewalk by bikers who seem to think this is a game of chicken. It's rare to get an "on your left!" or even an "excuse me," but instead seems culturally acceptable to roar by and expect (or hope that) walkers leap aside. Particularly disappointing is that this behavior occurs on a street with a beautiful, clear bike lane.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 11:33 a.m.

    "haven't we figured this out by now? bad drivers force bikers to use the sidewalk." No we haven't figured that out becasue it isn't true. That's your opinion, which I disagree with. What we've actually learned, but what ewe already knew, is that Ann Arbor has horrible drivers & horrible bicyclists. Cars don't look for out bikers, bikers drive whereever it's easier for them to get around. Everyone's fault.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 11:02 a.m.

    isn't this like the 5th article this year covering the debate of bikes on the road vs. sidewalk? haven't we figured this out by now? bad drivers force bikers to use the sidewalk. share the road better, and this problem wouldn't even exist. it's not that difficult a concept to grasp.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 11 a.m.

    Note the photo of the sidewalk biker for this story is not wearing a helmet. Apparently safety isn't their concern.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 10:56 a.m.

    Sorry, "genericreg", it is wrong to over generalize about a group based on the behavior of a few. Truly all bicyclists/pedestrians/drivers are not cretins - only all those who disagree with my postings!


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 10:38 a.m.

    Main St. all the way from Scio Church to downtown is a death trap for bicyclists on the road. A bike path is needed all the way.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 10:26 a.m.

    Few topics so quickly display the readiness to declare ourselves right and everyone else wrong despite our knowing so little about the others' situations. How sad that we've all come to a point where our minds are so entirely closed in upon themselves. How sad that we are so lip-smacking ready to judge an entire group by the behavior of one or two individuals. Think all bikers are scofflaws and unpredictable cretins? You are no better than those who think all members of a certain race are criminals, bad drivers, or should not date your daughter. For God's sake grow up. About the street or sidewalk? Every situation is different, just like every rider and every driver is different.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 10:19 a.m.

    I ride my bike nearly every day in A2 and Ypsi. I have to park and ride in A2 because of the absurdly high parking rates; it would cost me more than an hour's wage to park nearly anywhere downtown. Anyway, the only place I feel safe riding in Downtown A2 is in the road. Pedestrians wander all over the place, darting in and out, ipods blasting, absolutely no awareness of surroundings. I guess it's cool if you live in the Deuce to be utterly oblivious to what is happening around you. I have an idea, why don't we start ticketing J-walkers in A2? I'm pretty sure they cause more traffic problems then anything bikes or cars cause. Enforcing J-walking laws would make the roads safer for bikes and cars. The bottom line is use common sense. A bike is a vehicle. It belongs on the roads in 90% of situations. Even when I choose to commute by bike only to and from A2, I feel much safer on the road than I do on that alleged bike trail on Packard. The poor lay out of that trail, where the trail often does not line up when crossing the street, sent me over the handlebars a couple summers ago. I learned my lesson: ride the road for safety.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 10:06 a.m.

    I've come very close to being clipped by high-speed sidewalk riders several times, and it truly drives me nuts. Admittedly, where this tends to occur most is in places where the roads are simply in such disrepair that they are essentially unusable for bicycles. Still, it's no excuse. It's unfortunate and inconvenient that the infrastructure is crumbling, but if a cyclist does have to choose the sidewalk for their own safety, they have to be aware that pedestrians have the right of way, and slow down considerably when any are present. Sidewalks should not be used for anything going over 10-15mph. What really gets me though, is the occasional buffoon who rides their bike on the sidewalk at high speeds, heading the opposite direction from traffic relative to the road. Yes, I know that drivers are supposed to stop twice, once before the crosswalk, and again as they edge up to the road. Face it though, drivers appraise what they expect to be slow pedestrian traffic as they approach from a distance, and tend to focus left as approach the road. If someone comes flying down the sidewalk from the right at 20mph, they are not going to be visible to the driver as they come up to the road (or back out of their driveway), and if an accident happens here I think the cyclist has no one to blame but themselves. Not sure where that would fall legally, but socially I think it could be considered Darwinism. I don't think there should be any laws banning bikes from the sidewalk entirely, as sometimes it is the only safe and practical choice. Cyclists should remember this though - when you're on the road, it's same road, same rights, same rules. When you're on the sidewalk though, it does not belong to you, and you should consider yourself to be a guest. You have many more responsibilities here than you have rights, and if you are witnessed as being careless or reckless, I do believe that police should be able to use their discretion to stop and ticket you as deemed necessary.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 10:03 a.m.

    I think a second poll needs to be taken. Which would you want? a) a law mandating bicyclists ride on sidewalks unless a lane is provided b) a law mandating bicyclists ride on the street unless walking the bike c) no law mandating where a bicyclists ride

    Top Cat

    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 9:49 a.m.

    People should not be riding bicycles on the sidewalk. It's a side"walk" not a side"ride". Sidewalks are supposed to be safe places for people to walk.

    Atticus F.

    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 9:17 a.m.

    It's an undisputable fact that it's safer to ride your bike on the side walk as apposed to riding on the roadway. All of the recent bicycle/car fatalities I have heard of have all been on the roadway. I think that bike riders should be able to ride in the street. but they should keep in mind that all it takes is one distracted driver changing their radio, or sending a text, and you could be killed.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 9 a.m.

    As a pedestrian, I have been hit from behind by a girl on a bike going WAY too fast.... and yes, there was a bike lane right there! I agree with the other poster about having a bell on your bike and using it... however, with so many people wearing headphones, they probably wouldn't hear it anyway. the biker that hit me said something (couldn't hear exactly what), which startled me, and I stopped, and got hit. How about if bikers are required to WALK their bikes past pedestrians? Especially on streets where the lovely gardens and hedges make it impossible to get off the sidewalk when a bike is bearing down on you.....

    Jody Durkacs

    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 8:54 a.m.

    I ride on the sidewalk when near any main roads for the same reason I stopped riding a motorcycle: I don't trust other drivers. I could obey every law in the world and still easily get killed by someone distracted driving. In the sidewalk, I am more in control, safer, and can keep myself out of dangerous situations. No amount of "experts" or safety codes will convince me otherwise.

    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 8:54 a.m.

    I think bicycles should NOT BE ALLOWED on streets - they are a serious disruptor to traffic flow and cause accidents. Show me a death on the sidewalk from a bicyclist hitting a pedestrian? Cars KILL bicyclists - All BICYCLES should have a clearly audible and permanent signal (like cards in the spokes, louder hubs, etc) so pedestrians have some warning that bicycles are near.. Bikes are just pedestrians with wheels.

    Tom Joad

    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 8:38 a.m.

    NO, IT'S EMINENTLY SAFER to ride a bicycle on the street. It's false security riding on a sidewalk. If you are afraid of cars you should just walk. Riding on a sidewalk is inherently dangerous because pedestrians are not looking out for cyclists. I've seen cyclists ride fast on the sidewalk, only to slam on their brakes when a person walks in front of them or the cyclist smashes into a car leaving a driveway. Even kids are safer on the street where drivers can see the cyclist and allow him or her their share of the road. On the sidewalk, unless you are crawling along, you are a threat to do great bodily injury to a pedestrian or yourself.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 8:28 a.m.

    Another aspect of bicycle safety is the reckless disregard many bikers have for the safety of walkers. Many will pass closely at high speeds without warning, especially on long downward slopes. Walking daily to work, I have an occasional close call with a car. In contrast, feeling threatened by a bicyclist is a weekly experience.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 8:06 a.m.

    Just remember cyclist and pedestrians you may of had the right of way but..... Dead is dead, crippled is crippled, and paying a ticket sucks but you had the right of way. Use common sense.

    Craig Lounsbury

    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 8:06 a.m.

    KJMClark@ I have a mirror. I stand by my comment.

    Peyton Bland

    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 8:04 a.m.

    I want to reinforce what jackson72 said: "That also means I can't creep up the curb side and pass cars that have just passed me as they wait at a stop light or stop sign. I have to stop in line just like them." Almost every time I bike in the vicinity of downtown, I see bikers riding up between the curb and the line of cars stopped at a light or stop sign. Thankfully, I've never seen an accident but lots of close calls! From the point of view of a pedestrian... Bikers: If you ride on the sidewalk (for whatever reason), PLEASE get a bell and use it when you ride up behind pedestrians!

    Rick C.

    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 7:52 a.m.

    One reason I find riding in the street to be (usually) safer is that there are more laws and shared expectations about the street than the sidewalk. Pedestrians (probably rightly) don't have any rules about what side of the sidewalk they have to be on, and they can pop around corners or around hedges or other obstructions at any time. Also, on at least one part of Glazier Way, the trees are low enough over the path that if I ride my bike with a helmet on I'll get whacked on the top of the head. If I ride in the street, by law, I must follow the same rules of the road as cars, and everyone should know what everyone is doing. Yes, there are idiots and ignorant people on all sides of this equation that make them look bad -- from bicyclists riding the wrong way or disregarding stop signs and red lights to drivers who use the bike lanes to pedestrians who think it's STILL their right-of-way to cross at an intersection after you've already started through it. As an aside, when I get into a discussion about this, it seems like the "bad apple" point is always made when I mention riding my bike in the street... that I shouldn't because "some jerk on a bike just blew through a stop sign last week and I nearly ran into him." I'm all for ticketing those jerks (and the drivers who don't yield to pedestrians when appropriate, and pedestrians who jaywalk into traffic).


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 7:46 a.m.

    I'm an avid bicyclist and daily car driver and there is room for both sides to improve their manners and common sense. Bikers need to pick their poison. If I decide to ride in the street, I don't jump on and off the sidewalk to pass cars and ALL of the same rules apply to me as they do to cars. That also means I can't creep up the curb side and pass cars that have just passed me as they wait at a stop light or stop sign. I have to stop in line just like them. Those are the things that frustrate or anger car drivers. I also use common sense when I'm biking and stay off the busy main roads like Jackson Ave. or Washtenaw at busy times. Unfortunately, as we all know, common sense isn't common. When I'm driving my car, I give bikers a safe distance as I pass and don't yell at, blare my horn at, or see how close I can come to them. Washtenaw County clearly needs more and better maintained bike lanes and paths so that bicyclists are able to ride safely. It's not real helpful to have a bike lane full of gravel, broken glass and other debris. When you ride in other parts of the country you can see how other communities have created an environment so that bicyclists can ride safely without impeding auto traffic. It's when a community doesn't take the time to address the issue, you get accidents from impatient drivers and bicyclists that make costly mistakes.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 7:46 a.m.

    If the bicyclist (not all, only a select few) who can not let their militant bike egos let them share the road or simply obey the simplest of traffic laws should be reprimanded to wearing training wheels, a horn, and tassels. No problem for most bicyclists.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 7:44 a.m.

    I believe there are more stories on biking than anything in this town. With the possible exception of pets. We have beat this horse to death. But since we are on it again I would like to offer some suggestions to parents of young bikers. If you are going to allow them to ride on main streets help them find the safest routes. Twice in the last couple weeks I have been driving down Dexter west of Maple and observed kids about 9-12 years old in groups of 3-4 riding. In both instances 1 of the group has veered slightly into the driving lane. It appeared this was in response to loosing their balance momentarily. Fortunately there were no adjacent cars at the time and there was no tragedy. We don't let our children drive until they have had training and have reached the age of 16. However some parents allow their young riders out on these same dangerous streets.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 7:42 a.m.

    I believe there art more stories on biking than anything in this town. With the possible exception of pets. We have beat this horse to death. But since we are on it again I would like to offer some suggestions to parents of young bikers. If you are going to allow them to ride on main streets help them find the safest routes. Twice in the last couple weeks I have been driving down Dexter west of Maple and observed kids about 9-12 years old in groups of 3-4 riding. In both instances 1 of the group has veered slightly into the driving lane. It appeared this was in response to loosing their balance momentarily. Fortunately there were no adjacent cars at the time and there was no tragedy. We don't let our children drive until they have had training and have reached the age of 16. However some parents allow their young riders out on these same dangerous streets.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 7:36 a.m.

    I agree with the poor maintenance of the bike lanes as mentioned here. Illegal dumping of leaves in the fall, broken glass and road hazard trash comprise the risks for bike tires. Motorists won't stand for this and why should bikers have to accept it? The Mayor explains that the City no longer can afford to maintain the bike lanes which is true. However, we need to ask why city sidewalks remain clear of glass, snow, leaves and trash. Ann Arbor can certainly pass an ordinance requiring businesses and homeowners to clear the bike lanes in front of their property just like the sidewalks. The City should also step up and enforce the fall leaf rules of no dumping until the day of pick up. Ann Arbor only provides bike lanes to pretend to be a green city. However, it will never inconvenience motorists or attempt to reduce motor vehicle traffic.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 7:32 a.m.

    The stretch on Packard between Carpenter and Eisenhower? The sidewalk. Packard between eisenhower and Main? The street.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 7:26 a.m.

    Chris Marble has it exactly right. Drive your bike like you're driving a car. Perfect. Craig - get a rear view mirror. You'd be amazed at how much control you *can* have over the interactions of traffic around you, but you have to see what's going on, and be willing to be assertive to make things work out properly. MDavid - Unless council changed the ordinance (they were considering it), it's not illegal to bike on downtown sidewalks. There are signs saying walk your bike, but the DDA put those up without an ordinance to back them up. They were supposed to go along with sharrows in the street to encourage cyclists to use the roads, but the sharrows wore out and haven't been replaced. Kayjay - I hope you don't lump people together like that everywhere in your life. Some bicyclists don't obey the laws, just like some motorists don't obey the laws, etc. If you count the number of motorists speeding, tailgating, and stopping in crosswalks, you'll find that motorists and cyclists are about as law abiding. The police are the solution in both cases. And the police *could* be the solution for making it safer for cyclists to use the road.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 7:24 a.m.

    As a motorist I admit I get a little frustrated with the bicyclists... but mostly I recognize that the times that I have frustration are because there are no accommodations for those bicyclists. For example, on our way to work (I carpool) almost every day we encounter the same guy riding down State Street, passing over the entrance to 94... sure, we get a little annoyed, but we slow down for him. I don't trust everyone to do that and I worry every time I see him! It's major obstacles like that which make me feel extremely uncomfortable trying to commute to work or downtown via bicycle. Even where there are bike lanes and shoulders, though, people in cars don't always pay attention. Another example from my commute -- Westbound Ellsworth at Stone School -- very close to where the Ann Arbor Police keep their fleet of vehicles (almost always cops driving around that area), people constantly use the bike lane or shoulder (whichever it is) to blow by people waiting at the light so they can turn right on Stone School. I mean, come on people, it's so OBVIOUSLY not a turn lane. As a jogger I have no problem with people driving on the sidewalk/bike path, either, UNLESS there is a bike lane for their use right next to it or if they refuse to share the space. I think whatever accommodations need to be made, whether bike paths or bike lanes, will be necesary in the coming years. I just don't see drivers changing their ways consistenly enough to feel comfortable driving a bike on a busy road.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 7:16 a.m.

    I find it especially rewarding riding on bike paths in the fall, when adjoining property owners have pushed their leaves and branches into the street, three weeks before scheduled leaf pickup... How about during the winter when the bike lanes are clogged with plowed over ice and snow? Ever notice how delivery trucks love the bike lanes? "What, I was driving my car in the bike lane?... Wait a minute... I really need to take this call...; )"


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 7:15 a.m.

    Ride in the street and obey the traffic laws. That includes stopping at 4 way stops and signaling your turns. Use a light when riding at night, preferably a flashing light. Use common sense and obey the law. How hard is that?

    Craig Lounsbury

    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 6:54 a.m.

    "DeBruyn said sidewalks have more intersections than roads, and drivers may not see bikers riding on the sidewalk as they approach an intersection." I find part one of the above a bit baffling. I ride on sidewalks a lot along "busy" roads where they lack bike lanes (Packard, Platt, Carpenter etc). On the sidewalk I have control over my interaction with cars. I can watch drive ways and slow/stop as needed. If I get hit by a car on a sidewalk its almost assuredly my own "fault". In the street I have no control over cars coming up behind me.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 6:33 a.m.

    I agree with most of the opinions, but especially DeBruyn. The third choice in the poll should include "...skill of the rider..". Also, isn't riding your bike on a downtown sidewalk illegal? It should be considering the density of pedestrians, dogs on leashes, people darting in and out of stores, etc. But then, only if such a law would be enforced. Walking your bike on a downtown sidewalk is safer for rider and pedestrian alike.

    Steve Pepple

    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 6:31 a.m.

    A comment was removed because it violated our guidelines. Please don't use all caps when commenting, it is the equivalent of shouting and is considered rude.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 6:14 a.m.

    Why don't these bikers stop at stop signs? Aren't they supposed to obey traffic laws? Twice, as a pedestrian crossing the street at a stop sign, I have nearly been hit by a cyclist coming out of nowhere, exceeding car speed limits, completing oblivious to me in the intersection, and nearly hitting me. You can't hear them approaching, and they drive like they own the road.

    Dr. I. Emsayin

    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 5:40 a.m.

    Ann Arbor needs to make biking in the street safer for bikers. Pretty soon there will be parking meters for bikes knowing this city's priorities. Just think, all those college kids with their fancy bikes having to pay to park for class! Make the kids pay for thier bike lanes that way! Biking on the sidewalk is ridiculous in the downtown area. If traffic is bad, walk the bike on the sidewalk. Or hire police on bikes to ticket sidewalk bikers; there's something to do with taxpayers' money.