I generally try to ride in traffic as a vehicle, following the rules of the road, stopping at red lights, taking the lane, etc. In many urban areas, you are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk (pavement for those from the UK). However, there are some times when it is unavoidable to ride more like a pedestrian than a vehicle, and I have some trouble figuring out when, or how, I should "switch modes."
- Most bike racks are on the sidewalk. It feels silly to stop and walk my bike for the handful of yards from the street to the bike rack.
- Some bike paths are accessible only from the sidewalk, not directly from the street.
- When I stop at a stop light, and it goes to an all-way pedestrian walk signal. While I normally try to follow all the rules that a car will follow, it seems silly to wait (and get in the way of the first car while I'm accelerating) when I can just ride across the intersection on the walk signal.
- Some complicated intersections are dangerous to traverse on a bike, but have nearby crosswalks which may be easier to use.
- Some bike paths cross streets with a cross walk, which are generally intended for people who are going at pedestrian speed, not bike speed.
Some issues that I have:
- Cars likely don't expect to be watching for people riding onto or off of the sidewalk. If, for instance, I need to make a left turn and go up on the sidewalk for a bit to get onto a bike path, I worry that drivers who aren't expecting traffic to go that way might not predict accurately where I'm going.
- I feel like using crosswalks and cross lights weakens the "same road, same rules" type campaigns to help give bicyclists access to the roads.
- I'm sometimes not sure when it's acceptable to switch modes. There are some cases where I can cut through some pedestrian paths, and ride on the sidewalk for a few hundred feet, or I can go around a couple of blocks on the road; should I be "cheating" a bit by riding on the sidewalk briefly, especially given that there are all of the circumstances listed above in which you need to ride on the sidewalk, or should I be trying to always treat myself as a vehicle and never use the sidewalk unless absolutely necessary?