Sometimes, drivers who do not exactly appreciate sharing the road with cyclists will question why they do not ride on the sidewalks and stay off of the road entirely. In some cases, they’ll ask this as if they believe the cyclists are in the wrong.

This is a dangerous attitude. It shows that drivers do not necessarily respect cyclists. It also shows a fundamental lack of understanding regarding cyclists’ rights and the law.

If they looked into it, they would find that the Department of Motor Vehicles makes it very clear. Cyclists need to follow the regulations and rules of the road, just like drivers. They also have the same rights as those drivers. They count as “vehicles,” just as cars do, and they deserve to use the road — not the sidewalk — as much as anyone else. As long as they do so legally and without breaking traffic rules, this should be easy.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that cyclists should ride with traffic, on the road, while following traffic signals and other rules. They say that this applies not only to adults, but to any cyclist who is at least 10 years old.

In short, bicycles are not meant for the sidewalks. They can actually put pedestrians in danger, and there is more confusion about the right-of-way if a bike is on the sidewalk. For instance, should the cyclist cross with the crosswalk or at a green light? The rules of the road indicate that bikes should move at green lights, just like cars, but that can get complicated if they’re actually on the sidewalk. The roads are intended for bikes and cars, and they must learn to coexist.

Have you been hit by an impatient driver who refused to safely share the road? If so, make sure you know how to seek financial compensation.