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Should bicycles be allowed on sidewalks anywhere in Lawrence?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on September 22, 2010

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Photo of Nabil Alotaibi

“Only on campus. It makes it a lot more convenient for the buses.”

Photo of Lisa Naime

“Bicycles should be allowed on the sidewalks because they slow down traffic in the street.”

Photo of Dave Ogle

“Anywhere but downtown, there’s just not enough room.”

Photo of Meghan Flicek

“I do believe that cyclists should be allowed on sidewalks anywhere in Lawrence, except for maybe Mass. Street, because the roads can be pretty scary sometimes.”


LogicMan 7 years, 5 months ago

Bicycles are vehicles, and belong on the streets and designated bike paths. And their operators must follow traffic laws. An exception for small children to operate bicycles on sidewalks in residential areas makes sense though.

When possible widening roads to add bike lanes, without removing any car lanes, also makes sense where there is significant bike traffic, and when finances and land allow.

Bicycles, being vehicles operated on public streets and that can cause damage and injury to others, should be licensed and carry a small amount of liability insurance.

trailrunner 7 years, 5 months ago

Speed. A bike can travel a lot faster than a wheelchair.

Kat Christian 7 years, 5 months ago

Well that's just the craziest idea I've ever heard. I can just see it now "profits on bicycle sales have dropped tremendously" If I had to pay to get a bike license or buy insurance that would be the last bike I would ride. Gas up my car please.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 5 months ago

Like Roe said elsewhere "It's a side "walk", not a side "road"."

whats_going_on 7 years, 5 months ago

so can I not jog, rollerblade, or skip down it either? :(

Flap Doodle 7 years, 5 months ago

Under the current regime, skipping is permitted if you are also going "La, la, la." at the same time.

Kent Shrack 7 years, 5 months ago

Actually, You must jog on the sidewalk. It is illegal to jog in the street.

Kat Christian 7 years, 5 months ago

Well next time my grandson and I go bike riding we'll ride in the middle of the road, obey the traffic rules and hold up vehicle traffic. That should make a lot of Lawrence people frustrated....might be you next time. Then maybe you'll rethink how you feel about bikes on sidewalks when you have to drive 5 mpr.

Beth Ennis 7 years, 5 months ago

if your grandson is old enough to ride a long distance with you, then he should be old enough to learn the rules of the road. It's just not that difficult. Besides, the sidwalks in this town are in horrible shape and it's more likely you would take a tumble on a sidewalk than in the road. I agree with allowing young children to ride on sidewalks in residential neighborhoods close to their homes. But once a child is old enough to ride more than a block or 2 from home, it needs to be on the road. It is just too easy to run into someone walking, and that is not only dangerous for the walker but the biker also. A very good friend was riding her bike on the street like she should when a pedestrian stepped out from in between 2 cars right in to her path at the last possible minute. Our friend on the bike was more seriously injured than the pedestrian was. It's not just a safety issue for the pedestrian, but the bicyclist also.

Adrienne Sanders 7 years, 5 months ago

On Kentucky & Tennessee. It's deadly for bikes there. Then again the brick sidewalks aren't helpful either.

knayte 7 years, 5 months ago

This is true. Taking Kentucky and Tennessee would make the most sense for my bike commute, but I just don't feel safe doing it.

Kat Christian 7 years, 5 months ago

but they aren't allowed on the deal with it already.

Brian Laird 7 years, 5 months ago

You need to use "will power" to keep yourself from violently assaulting other individuals? I would say that that is evidence of some serious mental problems.

Zoee 7 years, 5 months ago

Seriously, if you have to hold back from pushing them off the road you shouldn't be on the road. Go see a therapist. Cyclists have a right to be on the street and they aren't trying to hurt anyone like you flat out said you have to hold back from doing.

whats_going_on 7 years, 5 months ago

It depends on the sidewalk/street. For instance, most places downtown I wouldn't ride a bike on the sidewalk because they are so crappy and uneven. But on Clinton Pkwy, I'd rather not ride on the road, so since the sidewalks are double-wide there, I'll ride on that.

Kat Christian 7 years, 5 months ago

Now you just wait a minute.....when I bike ride with my grandson...we ride on the sidewalk for his safety. I'll be darn if I'll jeopardize his safety to please this law. If this city wants people to ride in the streets then they will have to make the roads safer with bordered bike lanes to prevent drivers from hitting bikers or widen every sidewalk in Lawrence. This is ridiculous. Society wants to promote good health by telling people they should get out and ride their bikes more yet this town wants to put biker safety in jeopardy by telling them they can't ride on the sidewalk. We need to come up with a better solution with a more practical nature that works for everyone and they make cost $$ and of course Lawrence does not have. So just leave it alone for now unless you have the $$ to solve this situation and put your $$ where your mouth is.

trailrunner 7 years, 5 months ago

I don't think anyone or the law suggests that young children should be forced to ride on the street. Although I'm just assuming. It's an issue of safety with regard to the speed of a bicycle with respect to a pedestrian. I'm guessing your grandson isn't riding his bike at 20 mph.

pizzapete 7 years, 5 months ago

Riding on the sidewalk is a good idea, especially on a busy street. Riding a bike on a busy sidewalk such as downtown or on campus is a bad idea and should not be allowed. The law is in place for a reason, right?

birdsandflowers 7 years, 5 months ago

What's the big deal if a bicycle rides on a sidewalk? I cringe for the safety of a biker when I see it riding on a busy street next to an empty sidewalk. Often times the biker in the street impedes traffic flow. If overall safety is viewed -- the biker in the street opposed to the biker and walkers simultaneously on a sidewalk -- the latter is the safest for all. And, isn't that what is important?

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 5 months ago

No. If they wish to be respected like another vehicle, they can't have it both ways and want to ride on sidewalks as well.

dwendel 7 years, 5 months ago

This is a moot debate. It doesn't matter what the traffic laws are as long as there continues to be NO enforcement. People will drive/ride in a manner that will best advance their own immediate self interests, whether that's texting while driving, blowing through red lights, not signaling, riding on sidewalks, thumping sub woofers at nuisance levels, etc. They will only not do these things if there is a substantial and imminent threat of repercussion for these behaviors, i.e. getting a ticket or crashing.

I'm sure that every one of us is a witness to 10 moving violations every three minutes we drive in Lawrence. In 15 years of driving here, I doubt I've witnessed 10 traffic stops.

John Hamm 7 years, 5 months ago

Not until they learn to give a shout out to warn you they're about to blindside you at high speed! Plain lazy or inconsiderate.......

givingisfun 7 years, 5 months ago

I never let my children ride their bicycles in the streets. Now a days the sidewalks are much wider and that is where they should ride their bikes. Another issue would be joggers in the streets. How crazy! Most of the time people jog in the streets when there is a nice sidewalk on both sides of the street. To me they are not jogging for their health, instead they are wanting to be noticed. Several times I have drove down Princeton Rd. and there is this woman that runs down the middle of the lane. There to is a sidewalk on both sides of the road and an island in the middle of the road. I have had to stop and move over for her to pass. I have also gotten out of my car and suggested to her to either jog on the sidewalks or on the middle island and she always tells me to mind my own business. Now that is ridiculous. I think anyone riding their bicycles, jogging or even on skateboards in the streets should be ticketed for doing this. Doing these things in the street is not safe for them or for the automobile drivers.

trailrunner 7 years, 5 months ago

I'm a runner but don't do this and it annoys me as well. I think the reasoning is that the alphalt road is significantly softer (hence gentler on the joints) than the concrete sidewalk, not because they want to be seen.

Kontum1972 7 years, 5 months ago

yes... yes ...yes....and they should be allowed to have gun mounts on the handle bars ,,,nothing larger than a .30 caliber air-cooled

Viking2 7 years, 5 months ago

When an automobile and a bicycle are involved in an accident, under Kansas no-fault automobile insurance law, the automobile insurance policies of both the driver and the rider are in effect.

CeeDub 7 years, 5 months ago

The no-fault is PIP coverage (personal injury protection), and it would cover each of them up to the first $2,000 of medical bills without having to determine which driver/operator was at fault. After that, the insurance companies would investigate - obtain police reports, witness interviews (if any) to arrive at a decision. In some instances, there could be partial fault on each side, so that would also affect how much each company paid out.

I am also against bicyclists riding on the sidewalks on Mass, it's too congested now as it is. Lawrence says it is a progressive city - why weren't bike lanes installed years ago?

Richard Heckler 7 years, 5 months ago

YES absolutely....... except on mass street downtown.

Of course it is now against a city ordinance to ride on downtown sidewalks.

Here is an improved idea:

Create inner urban bike/pedestrians pathways on the most dangerous streets . The right of way is available aka existing sidewalks. There is ample bike and pedestrian traffic in these to warrant conversion.


  1. Widen sidewalks on selected busy streets to 10' ft wide that which accommodates both cyclists and pedestrians.

Streets such as 6th,9th 13th,15th,19th , Connecticut,Kentucky,Tenn,Wakarusa,Kasold.

  1. Light them up which in the process the city is making it safer for women = rape prevention.

  2. Provide cross walk signs and markings at each intersection from 7th to 19th to increase awareness for drivers

  3. Decrease speed by 5 mph from 7th to 19th along inner urban busy pathways

persevering_gal 7 years, 5 months ago

I agree with a few others...yes, but not on Mass. There are too many bikers being hit by cars either due to idiot bikers not taking precautions or idiot drivers not taking precautions. I am literally terrified to ride my bike on the streets of Lawrence.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 5 months ago

Bikes on the sidewalk only if they follow a man carrying a red flag to warn the easily startled.

booyalab 7 years, 5 months ago

This one's hard. While I don't think that people should generally be riding their bicycles on sidewalks, I'm not sure it should be regulated. There are times when it makes sense for a bicycle to be on the sidewalk: if it's a child, or there's plenty of visibility it's wide enough for two and no pedestrians in sight, or if it's midnight on a weekend and you're in the student ghetto and don't want to get run over by a drunk driver.

There is a way to safely and politely ride your bicycle on a sidewalk. I've seen this done in cities other than Lawrence. You're riding along, you come up to a pedestrian, slow down until you're almost going their speed, call out "behind you, to your left" or whatever, the person gets the picture and makes sure there is enough room. No one has a heart attack and there is minimal inconvenience to the cyclist.

booyalab 7 years, 5 months ago

Of course, that only works on a relatively deserted sidewalk. It's not exactly nice to barrel through a high foot traffic sidewalk, even if you shout "out of my way! I'm on a bike!". Or the ever delightful weaving through people like they're orange cones and you're preparing for the extreme bike polo championships.

SeaFox 7 years, 5 months ago

I ride my bike on the sidewalks (but not downtown) for my own safety. I don't care what the law says. The law is there to protect pedestrians on the sidewalk from people on bicycles, but what about protecting bicyclists from automobiles?

Has the city council looked at the sidewalks (outside of downtown) lately? It's simple logic. There are A LOT more cars on the road than pedestrians on the sidewalk. So the chances of a bicyclist getting hit on the road by a car are MUCH higher than the chances of them hitting a pedestrian walking on a sidewalk they're riding on. If I'm on the street, my safety depends on the actions of a bunch of strangers who might be distracted, eating, drunk, in a hurry, etc. If I'm on a sidewalk, my safety is in my own hands. A much more comfortable place to be.

If I come across a pedestrian I usually left the sidewalk and rode by in the grass alongside as I passed them, they weren't in danger or even inconvenienced by me. And that's a big if, I used to ride from home at 25th & Ousdahl to the public library on a regular basis and not see a single person till I was downtown. By being on the sidewalk, I didn't have to worry if the sound of the car approaching from behind was going to be the last thing I heard.

slowplay 7 years, 5 months ago

Mass, No. Everywhere else, Yes. I've never seen or heard of a pedestrian getting seriously hurt by a sidewalk riding bicyclist, but I've seen some nasty bike - car collisions. I ride fairly often and most often will use the side walk. I'll never ride on the road unless there is a clearly marked and separate bike lane.

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