May 28 is a day to remind us all how vulnerable cyclists are to cars and trucks. And to remind all drivers to #passthemlikeyoulovethem. Learn why I feel so passionately about this topic.
Why I Like to Ride
If you read my blog, you know that once I tried cycling at about age 50, I loved it. Nothing feels quite like riding along, endorphins surging, a cool breeze on your face, looking at beautiful scenery and riding with friends!
If you haven’t tried it, go rent a bike with friends and give it a try!
I Avoid Traffic
Despite loving cycling, I live in Atlanta, and I generally do not ride my bike inside the “perimeter” highway that circles the city (I-285). Traffic is heavy. And I can drive 10 minutes to the Silver Comet trail or 30-40 minutes to beautiful low traffic routes like Cartersville and Silk Sheets. Those routes are so easy and nice, why bother with traffic?
Cyclists Can’t always Avoid Traffic
I’ve now cycled over 1800 miles on my tour from Ft. Lauderdale to Bar Harbor, Maine. There have been dozens of times the routes inevitably take us on busy two lane, four lane and even six lane roads. I have no alternative to these routes – they have been developed by people who know these are the best of some bad options.
Other people commute by bike. Some people get lost and are on roads they would not choose to be on. Others don’t have the flexibility in their schedule to drive more than an hour simply to get to and from a place to engage in their favorite exercise.
Under the laws of most states, bicycles are vehicles and have an equal right to the road. Most cyclists know that in a battle between bike and car, the car will win. So they avoid exercising this right because they don’t want to be a problem.
Why Can’t Cyclists Just Bike on the Shoulder?
Cyclists would love to have wide and safe bike lanes to cycle in! But the infrastructure often doesn’t support that in today’s world. So we seek shoulders when we can. But here is what it feels like to cycle on a one or two foot shoulder:
- Cars and trucks stream past you at 55 mph plus
- Traffic is loud, some people honk their horn, startling you as they pass
- You try to stay far to the right, only to find huge potholes, debris and other dangers you have no room to negotiate
- You sometimes have no choice but to move into the right lane to avoid creating a bigger danger to yourself or others
I’ve had cars pass so close, I looked down to see their wheels at my foot or felt their rearview mirrors pass inches from me. I’ve been in the rain and had cars spray me with water, making it difficult to see and harder to control my bike. Frankly, there have been times I’ve been terrified to continue riding, but there was no place to safely stop and get off the road.
What Can You do as a Driver?
I know you are in a hurry! I know you are on your way to work, the doctor, school or an important appointment. But if you:
- Take a deep breath
- Look at that cyclist as someone you know – your father, mother, spouse, sister, brother, daughter, son or freind
- Pass the cyclist only when you can safely give them at least three feet of room as you you pass
- Pass “gently”! There is no need to floor it or honk loudly. If you think they may not know you are coming around, a gentle tap on the horn before you pass is the most that is needed.
Remember – #Passthemlikeyourlovethem – it is all the guidance you need! How would you want to pass them if they were your loved one?
Bob daily reminds me to be safe. Bob, Sadie and my family ask that you pass me gently.