KTUL: Tension Between Cyclist And Drivers
posted 11/18/09 6:58 pm
Tulsa, OK – After 3 fatal accidents last summer some riders are concerned there’s even more tension on our streets.
As they told Newschannel 8’s Charles Ely, they’d like drivers to appreciate they’re in a no-win situation when it comes to harassment and collisions.
The senseless deaths of Christa Voss and Matt Edmonds offer graphic evidence of how bikes and their riders fare in a collision.
Tulsa’s bike racers such as Chris Zenthoefer were stunned by the sudden, severe violence and loss of their friends.
“Its been a massive emotional drain I think on everyone. Two people we see all the time.and all of a sudden they’re gone and they’re doing something that we do together.”
Tulsa’s racers are on the roads doing thousand of training miles every year.
While they’re accustomed to traffic the realities aren’t lost on them.
“One ya know you lose a friend and 2 they’re doing something that could have easily been any one of us we ride that road all the time.”
Experienced riders try to be careful and predictable.
It’s legal to ride 2-abreast. on the right side of the road.
But far too often a driver coming-up on this situation will be infuriated by the inconvenience of changing lanes.
Nathan Leigh says it can be a problem.
“It doesn’t respect me as a person as a law abiding citizen. I think its important that they realize that the law is behind me in being on the road.”
“Yes that does mean moving over into the other lane but do it when its safe.”
In Oklahoma.sharing the road isn’t just a matter of courtesy.
It’s state law.
Drivers must give riders 3-feet of clearance because it t could easily be a matter of life and death.
Rider Jay Mowrey says they need space to get around road hazards.
“Just give us some room.. that’s all we ask.”
“Someone did a study and found the times to go around a bicycle was 7-seconds. That’s 7-seconds that they have to be inconvenienced how hard is that. If that bothers then that much then what’s really going to set em off.”
Every riders has stories of close calls.
Drivers have been known to spray mace or throw things and then speed away.
That creates a lot of anger.
“I’ve had been cans thrown at me and cigarettes.”
“Just stop one time let me have a little discussion with him and then we’ll talk Ha ha ha.”
There’s clearly a lot of tension, but i’ts also clear that riders contribute to the problems.
Bikes are required to follow the same traffic rules as cars.
Riders can be careless.by rolling through stop signs.
They can also be too assertive and take up too much of the road during group rides.
Cyclist Ross Snider says they can gain some ground with drivers by simply doubling-up on the courtesy.
“I’ve made an extra effort at stop signs and things to try to be friendly even if I feel like I was there first sometimes I wave em through just to present a better side.”
Being nice can’t hurt because bikes aren’t going away.
According to the Census Bureau bike commuting is growing by about 10% a year.
Plus more adults are turning to cycling..to stay fit and give their joints a break.
Retired psychologist “Beverly Duffield” was focused on fitness when she became the 3-rd crash victim of the summer.
As a member of the Tulsa Bicycle club her death resonates with a group that has almost 400 members.
“Tulsa is short one very special lady she put 100% into everything she did, she was so sensitive so caring.”
Eve O’Kelley knows understands what a loss it is, because she also did volunteer work with Duffield at St. John.
However, she didn’t need the accident to show her the dangers of our roads.
Even a retired woman who’s small in stature doesn’t get any slack.
’A car comes just as close as it can and a guy comes along and put the top of his body out and screams get off the street!
The shock of almost being attacked like that almost causes me to have a wreck almost. I don’t know what’s a matter with people anymore.”
What’s clear is the fact that conflict on the roads can be fatal.
We’ve had too much pavement marked for evidence and we don’t need any more roadside shrines.
Several riders we interviewed offered the same thoughts about what they’d like drivers to remember.
Several said they’re part of families with husbands or wives, parents and kids.
If there’s another fatal accident a lot of people will share in the suffering.