April recently wrote In Defense of Sidewalk Bike Riding, suggesting that it's OK in certain circumstances: "I believe there are in everyday cycling occasions on which a cyclist may need to sidewalk ride." Meanwhile economist Felix Salmon weighs in at Reuters:
Bikes can and should behave much more like cars than pedestrians. They should ride on the road, not the sidewalk. They should stop at lights, and pedestrians should be able to trust them to do so. They should use lights at night. And -- of course, duh -- they should ride in the right direction on one-way streets. None of this is a question of being polite; it's the law. But in stark contrast to motorists, nearly all of whom follow nearly all the rules, most cyclists seem to treat the rules of the road as strictly optional. They're still in the human-powered mindset of pedestrians, who feel pretty much completely unconstrained by rules.
Read the whole rant here.
But I think there is another side to this argument, that April alludes to at the end of her post:
On the day when bicycles have a bona fide piece of the road in cities everywhere, cyclists will only need to avail themselves of the sidewalk on rare occasions.
In North American cities with lousy bike infrastructure and drivers who don't believe bikes belong on the road or know how to deal with them, why are people blaming the cyclists for trying to keep themselves alive instead of demanding road improvements, stronger laws, better enforcement and driver education so that cyclists can stay on the road and feel safe? Give us a place to ride safely and we will use it.