An acquaintance recently started riding a bike. When he told me he was riding on the sidewalk, I explained this was not a good idea.
Most bicycle accidents occur at intersections and riding on the sidewalk actually increases the risk of being hit, because the cyclist is less visible to drivers of motor vehicles.
He said he was afraid to ride on the road because he might be hit from behind. I told him that car drivers will not hit cyclists as long as they can see them. I could tell at the time he was not convinced, and I warned him to be extremely careful.
About a week ago he was riding his bike on the sidewalk, going in the wrong direction; a car was stopped in a parking lot a short distance back from the road. As he approached, the car suddenly shot forward.
In all probability the driver was looking in the direction of traffic, saw a gap and drove forward to merge into traffic, not expecting a cyclist to be coming along the sidewalk from the opposite direction.
He didn’t actually hit the vehicle, but a combination of braking hard while trying to swerve around behind the car, sent him flying over the handlebars landing heavily on his back.
Police and paramedics were called and he was taken to a local hospital. He has severe bruising, and has since had to return to the hospital and have blood and fluid drained from a large swelling on his back.
He contacted a lawyer who checked the local city laws, and surprise, surprise, it is illegal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk. He has no legal claim what-so-ever.
So, even though motorists will constantly yell at you to get on the sidewalk, and even though police will usually ignore you and not stop you riding there; it is not a good idea to ride on the sidewalk.
Besides being extremely dangerous, if you are involved in an accident, in most cities you are breaking the law and you do not have a legal leg to stand on. Insurance companies are not going to pay, and you may even find that you may have to pay damages.
Or, as this person has found out the hard way, in addition to his pain and suffering, he will now have to face some hefty medical bills.