As I’ve noted before, I commute by bike in warm weather. I take Washtenaw Avenue, which has no bike lanes, from my home all the way up to the Medical Campus. Because of the aforementioned lack of bike lanes, the high speed limits, and the heavy traffic on this road during my commute hours, I ride mostly on the sidewalk along Washtenaw, contrary to the official state guidelines.
I understand the reasoning behind the League of Michigan Bicyclist’s rule that cyclists should ride in the road, because for various reasons, it’s generally unsafe to ride in sidewalks. I try to comply with this rule in high-density, slow-traffic areas like downtown Ann Arbor, or in Detroit where the roads typically have plenty of empty lanes.
But I think it’s stupid to say bikes shouldn’t use the sidewalks on stretches of road like Washtenaw which have heavy traffic and high speed limits. Yes, drivers are supposed to share the road, but on the few times I’ve rode in the street I’ve feared for my life. Even when following the rules of the road, halting at red lights (which I always do) and sticking to the right hand lanes, I’ve encountered hostility from drivers who want to kill me. Meanwhile, for most of Washtenaw, the pedestrian presence on the side walk is pretty light. I slow down and look carefully for drivers whenever I reach an intersection, and halt if I’m not absolutely sure a driver will yield right of way. When I do get stuck behind a pedestrian, I slow down and go around them, usually on the grass. I don’t care what the official guidelines are. They are simply not appropriate for the particular conditions of the route I take, and I don’t see how mindlessly following them makes any sense.