Aside from being illegal, it can be dangerous for the people walking on the sidewalk (where they belong).
I was out at lunch with some people from work one day last week and we were approached from behind by three cyclists – two women and a man – while walking along Parkdale. When I pointed out to them that they weren’t supposed to be on the sidewalk they responded that there “wasn’t room” on the street. Me and my friends responded that there was room and that regardless they shouldn’t be on the sidewalk.
The guy on the bike decided to respect the law and rode off the sidewalk and off in to the distance on Parkdale. The two women, however, continued to ride on the sidewalk behind us, so we eventually stepped aside to they could go past us. The picture above is them riding off into the distance.
The fact of the matter is that if you’re riding a bike, you belong on the road, either in the bike lane if it exists, or at the side if it doesn’t. It is illegal for you to ride on the sidewalk. If your comfort level is such that you don’t feel comfortable riding on streets that have traffic then you shouldn’t be riding on those streets. You, like the women I encountered, should be taking side streets and bicycle paths where you won’t have to deal with traffic.