One more rest day before my ride in the ULCER tomorrow — let’s hope the weather holds and it dumps rain tonight but stops by, say 4:00 a.m. So I thought I would take a minute and give you, the driver, some tips on bike safety. What? But Mike, I don’t ride a bike! That is fine, but as a driver, there are things you can do to help make the roads safer for knuckleheads like me who ride a lot. So, here is the list:
1. Never assume a cyclist knows what they are doing. While there are cyclists who do know how to be safe on the road and how to interact with you without causing an accident, do not assume that the cyclist you are approaching is one of these. You can never judge the experience of a cyclist based on their clothing or the bike they ride. I know cyclists who really should never leave the house who ride very expensive bikes and wear expensive clothes. Conversely, I know cyclists who ride junky old bikes who know and respect the rules of the road. If you treat every cyclist as if they were new to the sport, you should be ready for most circumstances that arise.
2. Always give the right of way to the cyclist. Regardless of the situation, always let the cyclist have the right of way. As you approach a cyclist on a two lane road with no space to pass them and oncoming traffic, follow the cyclist until you have the space to pass. If you come to a four-way stop, make eye contact with the cyclist and let them know what you are doing. Almost all cyclists I know will appreciate your help in keeping them safe.
3. Don’t ever swerve towards, yell at, or throw stuff at a cyclist. I know that sounds pretty basic, but you would be surprised how many times this has happened to me. Just know that I have a pretty good memory for things like the make and model of your car and your license plate. You better believe I call the police when things like this happen. I have a cousin who was out running and had a water balloon thrown at her from a passing car. Long story short she went through months of rehab and can never run again. She will be bothered by that injury for the rest of her life. A cyclist only has to be three feet from the white line, so generally that means they can be almost in the middle of the right lane. That is a wide space.
4. If you see a cyclist pulled over at the side of the road, for goodness sakes, stop. You would be surprised how many times I have flatted multiple times on a ride and need a little assistance. Most of the time I do not, but I always appreciate the offer for assistance. Sometimes just using your cell phone will help me out of a tight spot.
5. Remember, if you and the cyclist got in a fight, you win every time. Your car weighs thousands of pounds and the cyclist has their weight and the weight of their bike (about 20 pounds). If you hit a cyclist, you can easily hurt or even kill them. Is that worth the extra 5 seconds you save by passing them early or rolling through a stop sign when there is a cyclist in the intersection? Cyclists have a right to be on the streets and while sometimes they do inconvenience motorists, the law protects them just as it does you.
While not comprehensive, this list does point out some of the more common mistakes that I see while I am on the road. Be friendly to a biker…not everyone is. It will make their day.