Two days ago, the City of Somerville announced it would start enforcing regulations prohibiting the use of bicycles on sidewalks with fines between $20 and $50.  Mayor Curtatone claims the crack-down is meant to ensure public safety amidst “increased bicycle and pedestrian traffic” and “substantial use of bicycles on sidewalks”.
Given the city’s budget problems , I wonder whether this policy change is motivated more by a need to find new sources of revenue rather than by public safety concerns. I could imagine that bicycle use may have increased dramatically in response to high gas prices, but whether this has resulted in more bicycle-pedestrian accidents has so far been lacking any quantitative justification. Where are the numbers to support this policy change? If the city is looking for money, it ought to deploy traffic officers on the side-streets to watch for speeding drivers.
The timing of this announcement is also peculiar given that we’re in Winter and that surely means that bicycle use is down, naturally.
Bicyclists ride on the sidewalk when they don’t feel safe or have room to ride on the road. The city should be adding or improving bike lanes [3,4], enhancing street lights, installing bike racks, and fixing potholes to make the city bike-friendly, not punishing cyclists for protecting their own safety on the sidewalks.
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 Nov 13, 2008 City press release : SPD TO INCREASE ENFORCEMENT OF CITY BIKE REGULATIONS
 Oct 21, 2008 City press release : MAYOR CURTATONE JOINS CYCLISTS ON NEWLY INSTALLED BIKE LANES
 May 28, 2008 City press release: New Bike Lanes Line Beacon Street and Broadway