Arizona law does not prohibit riding your bike on the sidewalk, but does that mean it is safe to do so? Cycling is a very popular outdoor activity, especially in Arizona. However, Arizona bike laws seem to be a topic of confusion for many people. When it comes down to it, laws are put into place for our safety and the safety of others. Therefore, if you choose to enjoy the Arizona roads via bicycle, familiarizing yourself with the laws and understanding the dangers is imperative.
The laws in Arizona regarding riding bikes on sidewalks differ from city to city; however, the dangers are the same wherever you are. Riding on sidewalks is not completely prohibited because we have to take into consideration areas where biker safety on the road is extremely reduced, andchildren.
Avid cyclers seem to disagree on what is best for their safety, but the majority seem to believe riding in the roadway is safer than on the sidewalk. Fear seems to be what guides cyclists who choose the sidewalk. Fear of vehicles is a valid fear, but is the idea that the sidewalk is a safer place valid? Actually, a large portion of accidents involving bicycles and automobiles happen when a bike rider is using the sidewalk instead of the roadway.
Often bike riders using the sidewalk decide to ride against traffic, believing that they are safer when they can see traffic coming towards them. However, drivers exiting private drives, parking lost and side streets oftentimes do not check traffic to the right when they are turning right, because oncoming traffic is coming from the left. This results in car-bike collisions. As I constantly say to my children “If you get in an accident with a car, who wins? Even they know: The car, every time!
Another thing: Cyclists sometimes forget that they are a danger to pedestrians. The statistics are hard to find but the fact is that many people are injured every year after being struck by bicyclists. Head injuries are common in these types of accidents. As it so happens, my wife sustained a head injury due to this type of collision many years ago when she was a student at ASU. She was crossing the street, she did not see the cyclist (as he was shielded by a large truck) and he apparently did not see her either. They collided, and my wife was knocked unconscious. She suffered from a concussion for several months.
If you choose to ride your bike on the sidewalk, we suggest following these guidelines to help everyone avoid injury.
1. Ride slow and yield to pedestrians – Sidewalks were built for pedestrians, not fast moving traffic, therefore there are a variety of obstacles for someone traveling at a faster speed such as mail boxes, signs and light posts.
2. Be alert and watch carefully all points of entry to the roadway – drivers generally pull all the way up to the road when getting ready to turn onto it and are not expecting fast moving vehicles coming down the sidewalk, especially from the opposite direction of the traffic flow, so they likely will not see you.
3. Use Crosswalks – if you must cross the street wait until you come to a crosswalk and make sure to walk your bike thru the crosswalk. Arizona law prohibits riding a bike through a crosswalk.
4. Make eye contact with drivers – When you are crossing the street or a roadway entry point and a vehicle approaches, do not cross until you have made eye contact with the driver, you are sure they see you and grant you non-verbal permission to proceed. If this does not happen—WAIT!!
5. Ride with traffic not against it – Always ride in the same direction that traffic is flowing.
Please remember, these are just some suggestions for safer riding, I have not included all the bike safety tips available. The internet offers lots of valuable information for cyclists, try these two sites for more safety tips: http://bicyclesafe.com and http://www.azbikeped.org/for-your-health-and-safety.html#besafe