Thursday, September 19, 2019

Can I ride my bicycle on the sidewalk in Batavia? It depends...

post by John Burnham

There are three items in the City Code that specifically address riding a bicycle on sidewalks in Batavia:

  1. No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within the central business district except on those sidewalks designated as bicycle routes. 
  2. No person fifteen (15) or more years of age shall ride a bicycle upon any sidewalk in any district except upon those sidewalks designated as bicycle routes. (1972 Code § 77.045; amd. Ord. 93-58, 9-20-1993) 
  3. Whenever any person is riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk, such person shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian and shall give audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian. (1972 Code § 77.045)

So this means if you are 16 or older, which includes all adults, you should not be riding on any sidewalk in Batavia that does not specifically permit bicycle riding. This is especially true on Wilson street, between Route 25/River Street and Shumway Avenue/Island Avenue (referenced as the "central business district" in item 1, above). No one, including those 15 and younger, is permitted to ride on the sidewalks here.

Wilson Street, Central Business District looking west
"But it is too dangerous to ride on Wilson Street between Route 25/River Street and Shumway/Island Avenue," you say. I agree completely. Unless you are a cyclist with confidence riding among distracted drivers, the Wilson Street street is not for you.

North side of Wilson Street looking east at the signs, planters, lamp posts, fire hydrants, and parked cars.
If you are uncomfortable riding on Wilson street, walk your bike on the sidewalk for a block.  Even if there are no pedestrians at the time, you don't know when someone will step out of a store into your path. Add signs, planters, lamp posts, fire hydrants, and parked cars, and you have a recipe for an accident you could have avoided.

You say you avoid riding on the street to avoid getting hit by a car? What is a pedestrian supposed to do to avoid getting hit by a bicycle on the sidewalk?

"But there are some sidewalks where bicycles can be ridden, right?" you ask hopefully. As far as we can tell, the only sidewalks all cyclists can ride on are:

Houston Street

1. Along the north side of Houston Street, between Island Avenue and the Fox River trail. This is really a "multi-use path" specifically constructed to accommodate both cyclists and pedestrians.

South River Street

2. The sidewalk along the west side of S. River St. (Rte. 25) between Wilson and Webster, which is considered a connector for the Fox River Trail when it is flooded north of the Donovan bridge. WATCH FOR CARS exiting the parking lot!

Wilson Street in front of Batavia High School

3. The sidewalk on the south side of Wilson St. between Feece Dr. and Western Ave. (in front of Batavia High School). There is a sign directing bicycles to the sidewalk, but you don't see it until after you have passed any way to get on the sidewalk (without hopping the curb). Nice. Just get on the sidewalk anywhere between Randall and Feece and you'll be fine. There is no sign to indicate when to go back on the street, so...
Donovan Bridge: No!                                   Riverwalk: No!                                 Houston Street: Yes!
In every case, whether on the street, trail, or sidewalk, cyclists must always pay attention, yield to pedestrians, announce when they are approaching from behind, and SLOW DOWN when it is crowded with people and Pokemon GO! players.

 Yield to Peds Sign at

Batavia is a pretty easy city to ride on the streets. We're no Amsterdam,  but for a few main cross-town routes which are easily bypassed, most of the streets are calm and safe for riding bicycles. We need to help keep the sidewalks safe for pedestrians.

1 comment:

  1. What about adults who have serious hearing impairments and whom may have great difficulty hearing any vehicle approaching them from behind ? yes, having a handlebar mounted rear view mirror is very helpful, but not always adequate.