'Why can't you use the sidewalk?' The driver's guide to sharing the road with bikes

Learn to coexist with cyclists
Posted at 6:00 AM, May 18, 2018
and last updated 2019-04-30 05:00:15-04

Editor's note: WCPO originally produced this animated video in May 2018. We are republishing it today in anticipation of Bike Month 2019 beginning Wednesday.

CINCINNATI -- There are certain questions a cyclist from the Tri-State will get from time to time:

Do you have to ride in the road?

How can you possibly keep up with the speed limit?

Should I treat you like any other car?

Can't you just ride on the sidewalk?

It's understandable: To someone who has never ridden a bike on the road -- or at all, for that matter -- it can be a hard thing to imagine, mixing into lanes dominated by much bigger and much faster vehicles.

But cyclists do it every day. Especially this month — celebrated around the country as National Bike Month — drivers are likely to see more of those metal steeds out on Tri-State roads.

It's in the spirit of bridging that gap of understanding that we produced this animated explainer, to give answers to some of the most commonly asked questions from drivers about bicyclists.

"A lot of people ask, 'Why do cyclists not use the sidewalk?'" said Jason Reser, owner of Reser Bicycle Outfitters in Newport. The bike shop is one of Bike Month's biggest sponsors and partners.

"One of the reasons is a lot of places it's not actually legal, and it's less safe," Reser told WCPO. "You wouldn't want a biker going 20 miles per hour on a sidewalk with someone stepping out of a door."

Reser also said there's less visibility between the driver and the cyclist when the rider is hidden behind trees and parked cars lining the curb.

"A cyclist moving 15 to 20 miles per hour coming up to an intersection or a driveway might not be seen," Reser said.

Another common misconception is that cars can't pass a bike in front of them if it means they have to cross a double-yellow line. Truth is, it is legal to cross into an oncoming traffic lane -- when it's clear to do so -- even if it's a double-yellow line. This is the case when overtaking any slow-moving vehicle.

If you haven't already, watch the video above for answers to more common questions about bikes on the road.