Side Path Bicycling

Bicycling is one of the least understood forms of transportation.  From the perspective of safety, it is often perceived to be better off bicycling on a side path rather than on a road.  But this is not necessarily the case.  Using education to inform travelers of the hazards to consider may help us make adaptations for safer behaviors, and assist us with making more informed choices.  Here are some things to look for related to side path bicycling safety from The AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities:

  1. Motorists may not see the bicyclists in both directions when turning across the sidepath
  2. Bicyclists crossing intersections at intersections may be at unexpected speeds (speeds faster than pedestrian speeds), which may increase crash frequency
  3. Motorists waiting to enter roadway may block the sidepath crossing
  4. Stopping the bicyclist at cross-street driveways are inappropriate and typically not effective
  5. When sidepath ends, one direction of bicyclists will be going the wrong way
  6. A sidepath may need additional road crossings
  7. Signs posted for roadway users are backwards for contra-flow riders
  8. Barriers are sometimes needed to keep roadway traffic from conflicting with sidepath cyclists, which may obstruct view of each other
  9. Sidepath is sometimes constrained by fixed objects
  10. Some bicyclists will use the roadway instead of the sidepath because of operational issues described. Furthermore, some states prohibit bicyclists using roadway when sidepath is present
  11. Bicyclists can only make a pedestrian-style left, which will increase crossing delay
  12. Bicyclists may not be in the view of drivers turning left or ride from adjacent roadway/driveway
  13. Bicycle-motor vehicle crashes may still occur at sidepath crossing locations
  14. Signs and markings have not been shown to be effective at changing road or path behavior at sidepath intersections

Sidepath conflict diagram AASHTO


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