Commentary By Stan Bunger

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — You’re looking at a lawbreaker. I can say that because I saw this guy ride his bike up a sidewalk on San Francisco’s Market Street, and that’s illegal.

The whole “bikes on the sidewalk” issue is in the news this week because San Jose’s City Council is scheduled to vote on banning sidewalk bike riding in the downtown area, thus joining San Francisco, Oakland and many other cities with similar laws.

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California leaves this matter up to local control, and that’s where it gets tricky. Enforcement is seldom a priority, and even in cities that do ban bikes on the sidewalk, the rules seldom apply to residential neighborhoods.

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Here’s where I come down on this, and I speak as a cyclist, an avid walker, and a driver by necessity: bikes really don’t belong on sidewalks. Especially as cities increase the number of bike lanes, it’s hard to argue that safety is served by mixing faster-moving bikes with walkers on the sidewalk. Yet a San Jose study found that even on streets with bike lanes, a quarter of the cyclists were riding on the sidewalk.

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Cyclists have been increasingly vocal about demanding a safer riding environment. They should also stand up for the safety of pedestrians by staying off the sidewalk.