Pedestrians Only

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Image credit:

Yesterday, I was involved in a cyclist's near death.

This may be slightly off topic for this blog, but as the blog doesn't really have a specific agenda or framework, you're stuck.

First, the story:

I'd waited until a little late in the 100-degree day to go for a run, so I opted for a four-mile path and a slow pace. I was about three miles in and on my way up the sidewalk of a very busy street here in Houston—a six-lane road with few stoplights and a speedy speed limit. Frankly, it's more of a surface highway than a street. The sidewalk along it connects some retail centers, gas stations, and a couple restaurants.

Trotting along in the quiet heat, I was startled to suddenly hear something crunching the sidewalk immediately behind me, coming up fast. I startled, emitting an alarmed "Oh!"

My flinch made the cyclist—the creature pouncing on me from behind--flinch. And when she did, she lost her balance and fell into the street.

Fortunately, it was a Sunday, road travel was light, and there was a gap in the traffic. A slight gap, but a life-saving gap. I jumped out into the street—you can never be sure people in cars see something flat on the road--and waved my arms to stop traffic until I could help her up and get her back with her bike onto the sidewalk.

She was okay, the bike was only a little dinged up, and another runner stopped to help us get the chain back on it.

It could have been so much worse.

I don't think cyclists in Houston realize that sidewalks are for pedestrians only. Or, if they do, they ignore the law. (Yes, it's a law: In other cities, these people would get tickets.) Cyclists regularly ride on sidewalks here in this huge city, and it's incredibly dangerous for them and for pedestrians when they do. Yesterday was a good example of why. Vehicles and pedestrians aren't supposed to mix on the same path.

The street we traveled on is a busy street. Maybe it's frightening for cyclists to ride bikes on it. If that's the case, then they have numerous other roads on either side of the main drag that they can use. Those are the roads I use when riding my bike. This is a city—there are many ways to get to any given place. Use the route that is safest to you.

And that route, cyclists? It's never the sidewalk.