Friday, November 22, 2013

Cars and Bicycles need to learn to Coexist

Every time I leave the house on my bike, wearing only a piece of styrofoam as protection, my wife reminds me to be careful. My response is generally, "I always am, I have the two best reasons to come home."  My reasons being my beautiful wife and my soon to be born baby daughter (I am so excited about both by the way). I can control the way I interact with cars and the road, but that is it. When I think about it, that is not much that is in my control.

A month ago a friend of mine linked to an article on Facebook that got me thinking about the risks I am taking every time I am on the road riding my bike or driving my car. There is a constant stream of incidents between all users on the road.  I want to focus on cars and bikes, since that is my greatest area of concern.

Now, as a cyclist I have had my fair share of interesting interactions on the road.  Not mentioning all of them I have had cars swerve at me, people cuss me out while they drive by, and my favorite, people tell me to get off the road or ride on the sidewalk (this is actually illegal in some places). I would say there are four kinds of drivers when there are bikes around.  The first is the accommodating driver, this driver will pass at reasonable speeds and is perfectly fine with a bike on the shoulder or taking up two feet of the lane. The second is the prankster, this driver thinks it is funny to mess with a cyclist by swerving, honking and trying to startle the rider, and generally screwing around. The last two are the groups I am least comfortable with. Third, there is the driver who hates the cyclist. In their mind we are a complete inconvenience or there have been sour experiences in the past. This driver thinks bikes are a nuisance and has been known to take matters into their own hands. Finally, there is the uncomfortable driver. I would say this is my least favorite, they are unpredictable.  This driver will tail a cyclist or group and insanely slow speeds, waiting until they have six lanes to pass.  When this happens I know that this driver is tensing up and could be building a frustration towards the rider.

It is no secret that cars and cyclists need to learn to coexist.  The road is to be shared by both and everybody should be allowed to use it while feeling safe. There are so many people who write and talk about this every year.

I am not sure why both groups think they are solely entitled to the road.  Lets just calm down and be considerate for one another.  No one is intentionally trying to inconvenience or injure anyone else (I have been in situations where this is the case). Let us, drivers and cyclist, do our individual part to foster cooperation in the road.

Cyclist, do your best to be visible and FOLLOW THE LAW.  Unless you are in a sanctioned race a stop sign or light will not ruin your ride. If you ride like you are supposed to be there than you will be okay.

Drivers, pass cautiously with enough space. I guarantee the cyclist is not purposely sucking up 5-10 seconds of your life. Please treat bikes like they are another car, they are entitled to the road and they should follow the same laws.

Sorry that this was a bit of a ramble. Until next time, be safe and push a little harder.

1 comment:

  1. I've had no such encounters.I live west of Appleton and and the drivers have been courteous and considerate of my presence n the road, never been cussed out and can not tell or not if anyone has ever made an attempt to scare me. In addition, I get a few rides up on the Western edge of the Nicolet National Forest around Land O' Lakes, Phelps, Eagle River and Alvin (Forest County). Never a problem up there either.