When faced with the choice of being sandwiched between a just-opened car door and a SUV, and riding on the sidewalk where there’s hardly any traffic, I’m on my bike on the sidewalk. I wish I weren’t, but it’s often the least-worst alternative. And sometimes I’ll still do it if there’s a bike lane on the street, if the bike lane is two narrow strips of paint that come and go as the street widens or narrows, and is completely ignored by drivers. I consider my presence on the sidewalk part of my plan to die in my sleep at a ripe old age. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, the city can save their paint and skip marking bike lanes—it’s a “compromise” that’s more of a sop than real solution. The city just puts them down where it’s convenient to show that they’re “bike friendly” without doing the hard work of carving out a few real, separate bike lanes.
Patronizing "sharrows," imaginary bike lanes painted on pavement, insipid ad campaigns begging drivers not to run over cyclists: all a waste of money. Until we have dedicated bike lanes, cyclists—for our own protection—will alternate between street and sidewalks, jumping back and forth between them multiple times on the same trip, because it's the only way to safely commute by bike in a city without dedicated bike lanes.