I am fairly new to riding, in a city where it is legal to ride in the road or on the sidewalk. In the areas where I need to ride, the roads are busy but the sidewalks are virtually deserted.
I keep hearing that it is safer to ride in the road, but is it really? Are there studies that show (or contradict) this?
It seems like the hazards of riding on the sidewalk are things that are under my control (don't zoom through crosswalks, watch out for cars coming in/out of driveways), while the hazards of riding in the road (people texting while driving, cars passing too close, road rage) I have to rely on other people being careful.
So it seems to me that I am better off riding on the sidewalk where my safety is in my own hands than in the road where my safety is in the hands of all of the drivers around me. But I am new, so I acknowledge there may be other aspects of this that I haven't thought about... so is it really still better for me to ride in the road, and if so, why?
Edit to add: This is a small city in the midwerstern United States. The sidewalks I am talking about are on stretches of road where it's mostly businesses with large parking lots, so there won't be any kids playing or anyone backing out into the road (but still will be people turning from the driveway to the road or the road to the driveway). With the exception of right by a bus stop, you almost never see pedestrians on the sidewalks, it mostly seems to be bicyclists. As an alternative to riding on the sidewalk of this road, I could take a more indirect/winding path through some neighborhoods where it wouldn't feel quite as scary riding in the road and ride in the road there - but is that really any safer than riding on the sidewalk near the busier roads?