How to merge into traffic from a sidewalk?

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BikeNoob
Member
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BikeNoob here, new to Pittsburgh biking and biking in general. What’s the best way to move from the sidewalk to the road if there are already cars waiting at the intersection? I was by Craig and Bayard after an appointment and got my bike out of the building at the intersection to find a red light and cars waiting in the single lane on Craig. Do I dismount and walk across the street with the walk sign on and then go on to the road or do I find some space with the car waiting at the front and hope they’ll give me space to ride? Or do I wait for the green signal and then wait for all cars to pass me by then hopefully find time and space to get on the road?

Sorry if it’s a very basic question; I’m still learning!


Eric
Member
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isn’t that a 4 way (all way) walk intersection? Ie, full peds cycle no matter what the direction is? If so, go during that time. If not, I’d do the latter – wait until the green and the intersection is empty and then go.


BikeNoob
Member
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Yep, it is a 4 way walk intersection! That makes sense, to walk across during the walk sign and then continue on the road. I wasn’t sure what I should do in that moment. Thanks!


paulheckbert
Moderator
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Or straddle your bike on the sidewalk with it pointed diagonally toward the intersection, and when the 4-way walk signal comes, check in all directions for red-light runners and turning cars, then bike from the sidewalk into the road. No walking necessary. The less time you spend in the intersection, the less likely you’ll get hit there (intersections are where most crashes occur).


BikeNoob
Member
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Is it legal to do so? That seems like the safest option but considering bicycles are considered as vehicles and can’t be ridden on cross walks, where pedestrians go, I’m not sure if it’s okay to do as you mentioned.

  • This reply was modified 1 month ago by  BikeNoob.

paulheckbert
Moderator
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If you don’t ride for any significant distance on the sidewalk (less than 3 feet, say) I think it’s fine. (Cycling on sidewalks in business districts is illegal in PA, but it’s legal otherwise). I’ve done this kind of move for decades and never had a problem with it. I’m much more worried about turning or oblivious drivers than I am cops.

Sometimes it’s necessary to do the opposite move (biking from road onto a business-district sidewalk or busy sidewalk) and there I try to come to a stop quickly and dismount just after I’m out of the road, rather than dismount in the road and then walk the bike onto the sidewalk. For safety you want to get out of the road quickly.


Steven
Participant
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I think technically, the law says that to cross an intersection via a Walk sign, you must not be riding. When you’re riding, you’re supposed to follow the red and green vehicle lights, not the Walk/Don’t Walk lights.

But this aspect of the law was likely written without anyone thinking about how it would apply to cyclists. I doubt anyone will care if you cycle through a four-way walk (as long as you yield to pedestrians).

  • This reply was modified 1 month ago by  Steven.

StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Comparable to explaining how to tie a shoelace, I don’t think I can adequately describe my exact method. In short, safety first, and that includes the law. If you’re not endangering yourself or anyone else, and not potentially scratching someone’s car, do whatever makes the most sense at the moment, even if not squarely within the confines of codified statutes.


BikeNoob
Member
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Thank you all for your replies, they make sense! I’ll be a little more at ease now when navigating through Pittsburgh on my new bike. Safety first, of course.


Dave
Member
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You can not legally cross a 4 way pedestrian walk signal while riding your bike. I do know of two instances of cyclists getting ticketed in Squirrel Hill for doing just that. You can walk (or run) a bicycle across the street though.
Regarding legally riding on sidewalks, my understanding is that it is not legal in a “business district.” Any time you are cycling (street or sidewalk) pedestrians deserve their right of way.


Eric
Member
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I just go through these 4 way walks very slowly, balance bike style. But I’m also a mid 40s.white guy, needy looking, so the chances of cops harassing me is close to zero anyway.

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