My old friend G bikes to UBC and back every day.  Here’s his take on the problems with bike routes that direct cyclists up onto the sidewalk.  — SE.

I was biking out to UBC this morning, and got honked at by a bus simply for being on the road.  The roundabout at 16th and Wesbrook is a great piece of transportation engineering for cars, buses, and pedestrians.  However, they didn’t plan that well for bikes.  The nice bike lane on 16th ends at the roundabout at a little ramp with an arrow that directs you up onto the sidewalk (where you can proceed to plow pedestrians over?).  What most cyclists do (including me) is carefully move left a bit into the vehicle lane, and be a vehicle while riding through the roundabout.  It was while slowing down behind one bus that another bus behind me honked and pointed vehemently at the sidewalk.

Maybe it’s wrong for me to not use the sidewalk there, but I’m faster at navigating the roundabout than the buses are (and almost as fast as most cars).  So I’m not slowing anyone down other than by simply taking up a spot on the road.  On the other hand, if I were to use the sidewalk, it would slow me down considerably to, say, make a left turn.  To do so, I’d have dismount (unless I want to be that annoying cyclist getting in the way of pedestrians) and then walk my bike across four to six lanes of traffic.

Until there’s an extensive network of cycling paths covering every block of the entire city, there will be times when cyclists need to become part of the normal vehicular traffic.  And when the cycling route painted on the road goes somewhere dumb, it’s much easier for cyclists to become part of the normal traffic.

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