Sidewalk Bicycling Safety Issues

Department of Civil Engineering, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Publication date: 
December 1998
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Bicycle route and safety data sets for 2,963 commuter cyclists in Ottawa and Toronto, Canada, containing cyclist characteristics, collision and fall history, and regular commute route, are used for this analysis. Previous analyses found sidewalk collisions and fall and injury rates significantly higher on sidewalks than on roads or paths. Of the 52 events reported on sidewalks, none were reported to police and would, therefore, not be found in a police accident database. These events did result in injuries, and in two cases major injuries. This analysis has found that commuter cyclists in Ottawa use sidewalks primarily on major roads (not necessarily high-speed roads) and often to cross bridges or to take shortcuts where no road exists. Toronto commuter cyclists use sidewalks primarily on high-volume multilane roads. Some Toronto cyclists still use sidewalks when bicycle lanes are provided. A slightly higher proportion of women are sidewalk cyclists in Ottawa; however, no age relationship was found. Sidewalk cyclists reported proportionally more near misses with bicycles in the previous month. A relatively large number of sidewalk collisions are with other bicycles. The most significant result of the analysis is that sidewalk cyclists have higher event rates on roads than nonsidewalk cyclists.