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Bicycle Spoken Here: Bike Versus Car

Richmond.com: Bicycle Spoken Here: Bike Versus Car


By: Alix Bryan
Published: August 01, 2011

We’re all pedestrians, and some of us, myself included, hold the perspective of both a motorist and cyclist. The below list is based on personal experience, not user submitted data.

Ride Richmond recently produced a spoke card with information to highlight the “extremely important need to inform and educate both motorists and cyclists.”

The organization has a mission to educate both groups to make the roads safer, even writing a letter to the DMV Commsioner asking that the DMV manual be updated.

Below are some examples that frustrate me whether I’m behind the wheel or the handlebars.

TOP FIVE THINGS FROM BEHIND THE HANDLEBARS

That whole blow the horn at me to let me know you’re there. Stop that! It’s the equivalent of me walking up behind you and screaming in you ear. Cyclists are focusing on the road, which can is treacherous enough. Don’t make it worse.

Know your car and the lane, and how much space is there. Most of the time there is no need to weave into the other lane of oncoming traffic and then shoot me a backward glance of disdain. It's dangerous for all parties.

Rolling stops, or turns and intersections in general. Cyclists, if they’re riding properly, are constantly scanning the road, looking out for obstructions, traffic signals and traffic.

So we scan the tires of a vehicle to anticipate what you are going to do. "Are you potentially getting ready to go?," and "Do you see me is running through our head?" when you don't come to a complete stop.

That method has saved my life, as a cyclist and as a scooterist. But when you keep rolling, ever so slightly, or jut out far into the intersection—I get nervous about your next move.

Are you scanning for oncoming pedestrian and bicycle traffic when you only lightly brake? Or are you just looking out for a 3,500 pound vehicle?

Entitlement. Cyclists pay taxes for the roads that they too have equal access to use. One might not know this by the current state of affairs, but the City of Richmond is at work to change things.

I suggest motorist try shifting the attitude from one of being inconvenienced to one of appreciation that people are utilizing alternative forms of transportation. If more people did it, there would be less money spent repairing roads, less pollution, and lower obesity rates.

Oblivious. A vehicle has at least three mirrors and many windows for you to look around, and behind. Check them. Check them before you open the door and it slams into us or we jerk into oncoming traffic to avoid it. Check them before you make a right turn and hit a bicyclist.

TOP FIVE THINGS FROM BEHIND THE WHEEL

Riding against traffic is illegal. Bicyclists ride with traffic, pedestrians walks against it. When you bike the wrong way, it decreases room for pedestrians and compromises the room left for oncoming cyclists. And it makes cyclists look bad.

Blowing off four-way stops. You don’t get to do that as a reward for saving natural resources. A four-way stop should be acknowledged and your turn taken as though you were in a vehicle.

Entitlement. Many cyclists make no effort to share the road and ride leisurely, seemingly condescendingly, in the whole lane with no regards to traffic. It’s a road, and for the most remedial description ever, a road is designed to move traffic—not slow it down.

Bicyclists must ride “as far to the right as safely practicable” riding far enough left to avoid the door-zone and motorists from sharing narrow lanes.

Riding in a bubble. I see a lot of riders who look like they are in another world. They aren’t looking around for cars, pedestrians or other cyclists. They aren’t engaged in the ride. They talk on the phone. They barely stop at red lights. They zig-zag through crosswalks without scanning.

Hiding. At nighttime, it is best to avoid doing the ninja impersonation. It is best to be seen, with reflective tape, reflectors and flashing lights. 

 

What bad practices do you think would make the roads safer? Leave some thoughts in the comments!