Although I am sometimes guilty of it myself, I actually support this protest,
A group of fist-shaking mad San Francisco senior citizens gathered at a South of Market intersection today to demand that bicyclists stay off the sidewalks.As soon as the police start enforcing laws against double-parking in bike lanes and cars that make illegal right turns, they should absolutely crack down on people riding on the sidewalk.
Among those in attendance were seniors who have been plowed into by bikes.
“For too long, the city has allowed illegal and improper use of its sidewalk. For years, pedestrians have been squeezed, shoved, intimidated and injured by bicyclists and motorists. The sidewalk is designated as a walkway, not a parking lot for cars or a bike lane for cyclists,'’ said David Grant, executive director of Senior Action Network, which organized the event.
His group’s demand got the attention from the San Francisco Police Department. Authorities said today they will step up enforcement against bicyclists who illegally ride on sidewalks. The infraction carries a $138 fine. Under law, only children 12 years old and younger can legally ride their bikes on the sidewalk.
If we’re starting to enforce laws to keep pedestrians safe, however, we’re probably much better off starting with cars, which kill something like 20 pedestrians a year in San Francisco (PDF), than with bicycles, which account for fewer than one pedestrian fatality a year (which is obviously still too much).
I don’t have that much patience for people who ride on the sidewalk. I understand that it’s scary to ride on the street a lot of times, but in addition to pissing off pedestrians–who should be our natural allies–it’s usually more dangerous to ride on the sidewalk than in the street.* I am in favor of enforcing the laws that protect cyclists from cars and pedestrians from both.
*Although anyone who’s ever tried to take a lane on, say, Folsom between 14th and 18th might legitimately argue with this.