Did you know that a bicyclist who chooses to ride on a sidewalk in Connecticut can actually be considered a pedestrian? Typically, cyclists fall into their own category, but they are still considered to be “vehicles” according to traffic law. A cyclist may very well be considered the victim of a pedestrian accident if an errant vehicle causes an injurious crash — but only if certain conditions apply. Here are some things to consider if you are a cyclist who likes to leave the road.
Is it legal to ride on the sidewalks?
Not in most jurisdictions. Although many riders will hop onto the sidewalk if they are on a long stretch of two-lane road — or if they are concerned about safety because of a blind corner — riding on the sidewalk is generally frowned upon. Cyclists are only protected by pedestrian status if they are walking their bike through a crosswalk or along a sidewalk.
What about the safety hazards?
Riding on the sidewalk could actually cause cyclists to cause their own pedestrian accidents; that is, they could run into someone on foot. Keep in mind that you do not have to be behind the wheel of a car to be considered a drunk driver, for instance. Pedestrians that are injured by cyclists may have legal recourse against the negligent rider. Cyclists run the risk of smashing into another pedestrian, but they can also fall victim to vehicles that are backing out of driveways or making turns. In that case, if the cyclist is on the sidewalk, the wreck could be thought of as an auto-pedestrian accident if the cyclist has dismounted and is pushing his or her bicycle.
When do cyclists have the same rights as pedestrians?
If you have dismounted your bicycle and are walking it through a crosswalk or on a sidewalk, you have the same rights as a pedestrian when it comes to traffic law. Otherwise, you are treated as a vehicle operator. Cyclists should know their rights when it comes to riding and pushing their bikes, because the “pedestrian” designation could make a significant difference in the outcome of a legal proceeding.
Source: Bike Commuting 101, “Top 5 rules for riding on the sidewalk,” Commute by Bike, accessed Aug. 06, 2015