Bikes on the Road! part 1
The weather finally warmed up and among other things means that more bikes are out on the roads (both with and without motors). This article has tips for drivers to help keep everyone safe. Next week’s article will have tips for bikers to keep themselves safe on the roads.
Tips for Drivers
First of all, some drivers seem to think that bicycles should not be on the road, period – NOT TRUE! Bikes are in fact allowed by law on all of our town and state roads!
Give bikes and pedestrians extra room whenever possible. Most drivers do this very well, but there are a small percentage who don’t want to give up an extra inch of their lane. I have even seen a couple of hostile cases swerve to come even closer to riders – be aware this could be considered to be Negligent Operation, Operating to Endanger, or even Assault if it’s severe enough.
You might notice that sometimes as you’re approaching a cyclist, that he or she might take a small quick swerve into your lane. This sometimes happens when the rider is avoiding glass, sand, rocks, or holes in the pavement. Road debris collects at the side of the road and sometimes a biker’s swerve is a reflex, without time to think that cars might be approaching. Another reason to give a little extra room when passing.
It is OK, really OK, to slow down if you’re driving along a narrow piece of road, approaching a rider, and see another car coming from the other direction. Slowing down will generally add no more than a few seconds to get to wherever you’re going to.
Some drivers will give a gentle horn honk to let bikers know they’re approaching. This is fine if you’re at least 50 yards back. Laying on your horn as you’re passing a rider is NOT okay! In fact, remember that if you do that to a novice rider you could surprise them to the point of causing them to swerve right in front of you since the bike usually turns in the same direction as the head turns.
Sometimes you might see a group of cyclists riding at 20 mph or more in a pace line; they are drafting each other. The rider in front periodically comes out of line and let the others pass him as he takes a place in the back of the line because he was doing a lot more work at the front, and gets to rest for a while at the rear while drafting the others. We try to pass the lead when no cars are in sight, but sometimes it takes more time than expected, so sorry if we got in your way.
Let’s face it: some bike riders can behave badly. If you yell out your window or lay on your horn all you’ll do is raise emotions, or possibly cause an accident. All you can really do is count to three and be patient. If you happen to know the person, you’ll do them a favor to explain what they did that was dangerous.
Peddlin’ Pete Cowley has been riding bikes for over 40 years, having toured around New England, Europe, New Zealand, US and Canadian Rockies, and across the USA. His riding lately has been much more local.
Submitted by Pete Crowley