Richard asked: I live in a predominately college town. I recently moved and started biking to campus. There are no bike lanes for a portion of the road I have to ride down currently, and I am forced to either ride down the sidewalk which is crowded with pedestrians at frequent bus stops or ride down a 4 lane (two lanes each way) street. I prefer a car lane when at all possible due to hills and blind angles of cars pulling out on sidewalks.
I typically have no problem on the ride to work, but after I am done with the day and riding back I have had someone either almost drive into me, illegally passing me in a intersection and almost colliding with me every since the fall semester started. All of these situations have occurred at one intersection, both on the sidewalk and while using a car lane. I want to know if there is anything I can do by contacting the city or law enforcement to reduce the seemingly high odds of an accident occurring.
The police and local officials will not know about these conditions unless they are reported. I recommend contacting them and local cycling clubs and other organizations to begin a dialog and cooperative effort to address this and other problems. You may find that others have similar problems here and in other locations. See these posts for other such cyclist/law enforcement cooperative efforts that have been successful.
As you have correctly pointed out, there are significant hazards associated with cycling on sidewalks which are frequently not recognized.
I must comment on your use of the term, “car lane”. The roadways are for the use of all legal vehicles, and bicyclists have the same rights and duties as other drivers. In some circumstances, a bicyclist must use a bike lane when present. When a bike lane is not present, or in the many circumstances which do not require a cyclist to use the bike lane, cyclists must be fully aware of safe and legal cycling practices and use them for their own protection and comfort.
Although it sounds like you are an experienced cyclist, a great resource for safe cycling practices is the Florida Bicycle Association’s Savvy Cycling course. You may want to consider the class and encourage local cyclists to become instructors to educate others in your area.