Should Cyclists Dismount at Crosswalks?

Today the DailyCamera is running a story on how the City and others are suggesting changes to the existing law that cyclist to ride through a crosswalk to requiring cyclist to dismount when crossing a crosswalk.

First reaction would be, "why are you riding on the sidewalk" because riding on sidewalks is dangerous? But after watching the above video its clearer that these "crosswalks" they speak of are more like cycling paths that cross-over a road. CU Campus is full of them and the other one off campus would be Walnut street and its cut by Folsom. Given that clarification will new laws and possible enforcement change the behaviors of those creating a dangerous situation? There are already laws that require cyclist to stop at stop signs and lights but that for some has no effect. Others in the cycling commuting are against such a new law change as explained in the Daily Camera Story. Please do read the Camera's story because they do a fair job of giving both sides of the issue.

Personally I'm not for requiring a cyclist to dismount at crosswalks like the one exists on Walnut and Folsom, I know how to cross safely and I do not dart into traffic while at the same time I do not submit to the cars because crosswalk users do have the right-away. However I AM for requiring cyclist to dismount at crosswalks that are typical sidewalk/intersection type which are probably about 95% of the crosswalks in the city but probably not the ones targeted in this new law. Related story on Cyclist on Sidewalks create bad reputation

Take our Poll Where do you stand on the crosswalk suggested law change?

This DailyCamera story is going to create a ton of comments, here are a few

Encouraging bikes to ride through crosswalks (which then implies riding on the sidewalk) blurs the line between a vehicle that must follow the same laws as cars, and some kind of rolling pedestrian. As a cyclist and as a driver I think this is pretty dangerous. Ride on the road.

I think most bicyclists go through pretty slow. The really dangerous ones are pretty infrequent, but they really are endangering themselves, and cars can't be expected to anticipate them. I don't know if any have been hit, but I would think they would be.

The only bikes that really drive me nuts are the occassional goofballs who go the wrong direction for the side of the road they are on, sometimes just for very short distances like to reach a wheelchair ramp or something. They end up being in a completely unpredictable place and even good defensive drivers are eventually going to hit them. I can hardly believe it when I see it.

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9 Comments

Not all crosswalks are created equally

Not all crosswalks are created equally, when a bike path cross over a road (or other way) those intersections need to be treated differently.

That is just a technicality, the real problem is arrogant/ignorant humans on bikes (do not want to call them cyclist) that disregard their safety and the ethics of human interaction.... Don't dart into traffic but don't be scared like the guy on a bike in the video who just stands there at the crosswalk.

Seems pretty simple. If this

Seems pretty simple. If this is really a problem, just add stop signs on the street, so vehicles using the road must stop at the crosswalk, no matter what. If that's too draconian, then a yield sign (though that's already implied by the crosswalk markings).

Users of the crosswalk have the right of way, whether they're walking, running, or riding a bike or skateboard. It's drivers' responsibility to yield to anyone in a crosswalk.

Users of a crosswalk have

Users of a crosswalk have the right of way when they're being lawful. You can't expect drivers to yield to whomever has the ability to jump out into the crosswalk at any second.

Should drivers exhibit caution when approaching or driving through a sidewalk? Absolutely.

But there's some responsibility on the part of bikes/peds/skateboards/whatever to not dart out in front of a moving car.

The expectation that cyclists dismount at crosswalks doesn't mean that cyclists have to dismount to cross the street. If you're using your bike like a motor vehicle, that is, following traffic, riding in the street, etc, then you wouldn't need the crosswalk, and you shouldn't dismount.

If, however, you're riding on the sidewalk--in either direction, then you should be travelling at pedestrian speed, which means you should not be passing any more pedestrians than are passing you. Most people walk at about 2-3 miles per hour. At that speed, it's difficult to remain upright on a bike without massive swerving.
The suggested change to require dismounting is just a way that the powers that be can ensure that cyclists are travelling no faster than pedestrians.

The speed ONLY applies to

The speed ONLY applies to entering speed, not traveling speed within the crosswalk. I take it to mean the max ped speed, not average. Regardless, I pull up .... stop to make eye contact and wait for cars to slow down. I expect this to take a couple of seconds and I expect cars that are "on top" of me to continue ... looking back a resonable number of cars for a reaction (usually a wave). I do not wait for them to stop (safe slow is good) because that is more disruptive. I do not walk across because I think that that is SLOWER and more disruptive. The above does not always work smoothly and it can be dangerous ... usually due to a car in a far lane that insists on NOT stopping. This scenerio relies on 2 responsible operators with both being courteous. I usually end my trip with a little wave and a thank-you.

Typical Boulder

This is standard Boulder lawmaker behavior: pass laws to try to solve any perceived problem.

Here's the issue - "darting" across crosswalks is *already illegal* for *anyone* - pedestrian, skateboarder, cyclist, or freaking unicycling mime. You have to give cars sufficient time to stop, then proceed through the crosswalk.

So existing law already covers this situation, much as it covers riding 2 abreast and impeding traffic, running stop signs or red lights, and riding the wrong way on the street, etc, etc. Yet I have *never*, in more than a decade of living in Boulder, seen a SINGLE PERSON cited for breaking the law on a bike. I'm sure a few have, but the bottom line is that at this point NOBODY on a bike, skateboard, or on foot expects to be held accountable for their actions on the road. To some extent I could make an argument that this is true of many car drivers as well, but that's beside the point.

So the solution is to enforce the existing law, not pass new ones. More laws that aren't enforced aren't going to change anyone's behavior - and how much good does it do to have an extra charge to bring up against a skateboarder who's on a ventilator in the ICU because he/she darted in front of a car?

Put some cops on bikes, or on foot, or both, and hand out some tickets to people who are breaking the law, regardless of what vehicle they're operating. That's the only way to get through to people.

-Walt