Letter: Sidewalks are for pedestrians not bicyclists

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Letter: Sidewalks are for pedestrians not bicyclists

Nancy Bertogli
St. Augustine

Dear Historic City News editor:

Today I was nearly run down twice by people riding pedal bikes on city sidewalks.

I am a sixty-year-old woman in relatively good condition for my age and live in the Fullerwood neighborhood. Every day, I walk my two small dogs in my neighborhood. The first incident was around 8:00 a.m. this morning on San Marco Avenue near the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind.

There were two women pedaling toward me on the sidewalk and I could not tell which way they intended to go. I didn’t want to jump out onto San Marco Avenue so I just stopped where I was. The first woman stopped her bike and said something nasty. The second woman stopped behind her.

I said to the first woman, “You need to yield to pedestrians.” She replied, “You should go F*** yourself” My reply was, “you should too.” I wish I’d said something about having respect, decency and setting a good example but I was shaking all over from this confrontation. This woman was probably around 40-years-old and I’m not sure if the second women riding behind her was her daughter or a friend.

Later in the morning, a second incident occurred on Cordova Street near the Lightner Museum. I was walking on the very narrow sidewalk on the east side of the street when a college student began riding toward me. Again, I stopped because I’m not sure what the bicyclist is going to do. It seemed that the bicyclist expected me to stand aside and let her pass. She did have to stop because there wasn’t enough room between the parking meters and low stone wall along that part of the sidewalk. At least she didn’t hit me or swear at me.

These two incidents are not the first that I’ve experienced in this city. It seems to be a theme here. Last spring near the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind I was walking north on San Marco Ave and from behind me I heard a bell. I didn’t realize there were two people riding bikes behind me ringing a bell for me to get out of their way until one of them yelled at me to move. I was horrified that people would do this especially in the area of the deaf and blind school.

I learned at a very young age that people riding bicycles are supposed to follow the rules of the road and sidewalks are for pedestrians. I believe that bicyclists using the sidewalk pose a significant threat to pedestrian safety. Our sidewalks do not and should not support both modes of transportation. I don’t understand why people riding bikes think the sidewalk is their bike lane and that pedestrians need to get out of their way.

I’m not sure if there is any city ordinance that addresses this issue. I’d like to ban bicyclists from sidewalks completely or at the very least post signs that bicyclists must yield to pedestrians.

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