I am a road cyclist, and although most of this year I have been lazy and not riding like I should, this past week I finally started riding every day again. One thing I forgot until this week, is just how ignorant many drivers are about the rules of the road. Not just in relation to bicyclists on the road, but other drivers on the road too.
When you are on a bike (when I say bike I mean that human powered vehicle on 2 wheels for all of you motorcyclists out there…), you get a completely different view of the road than when you are in a 2000 lb car. There are two reasons for this. First, you are on an 18 lb bike that is clearly not going to stand up to a collision with a vehicle. Your only safety protection is a foam helmet that is 3/4 of an inch thick. But secondly, and more importantly, you are usually going slower than the other vehicles.
I notice every driver not wearing their seat belt. I notice every driver talking on the cell phone with their kids in the car. I notice the kids who turn and stare at me. I notice the drivers cussing me out because I made their trip take 30 seconds longer. I especially notice the drivers who are in such a hurry that they would rather get in a wreck with me or another car than slow down.
But there were a couple things that really got on my nerves today. The first was the guy who thought that I am supposed to ride in the turn lane, honked at me, and buzzed me because of it. In reality it is illegal for me to ride in any but the left 1 foot of a turn lane unless you are turning. I stay out of the turn lane entirely because it is generally safer that way and you let the people turning get to the turn and make it. In Colorado Springs it is relatively rare that I come across these type of idiots. Maybe once every 3-4 weeks I ride. Of course when I do this I always yell obscenities at them and call them an idiot. I know this is the wrong thing to do and could just make the situation worse, but I want to educate them. Yes, I know I am not doing any educating by yelling at them, but it is the first thing that comes to mind.
The second thing I noticed was the driver who was pulling out of her neighborhood, and before she left the stop sign she took the extra 2 seconds to put her seat belt on. It is great that she put her seat belt on, but I just imagined if I was a cop and pulled her over because she did not have her seat belt on, she would have claimed she did nothing wrong. She would have claimed that she had just pulled out of her driveway and it is not illegal to drive without her seatbelt in her neighborhood.
I do know that there are a lot of idiot cyclists out there too who do not follow the rules of the road and give all cyclists bad names. I always stop at stop lights, I always come to really close to a stop at stop signs, and if there is another car there I do stop. Yes, I know legally I have to come to a complete stop, but it is safer to slow down to 1-2 miles an hour and roll than it is to come to a complete stop on a road bike. Most people who ride bikes a lot wear special shoes where your feet are actually attached to the pedals. It is possible to detach, but it is safer to remain attached than have to detach and re-attach. I also yell at cyclists whenever I see them running a red light, or blowing a stop sign at speed. They get just as much wrath from me as an idiot driver does.
I guess what I am saying is if you drive you should know that cyclists have the same right to the road as you. They have to follow the same traffic laws as you which includes not riding in the turn lane unless you are turning. They are a lot more vulnerable than you and are pedaling as fast as they can. They do not want to slow down your commute, but bike paths are actually more dangerous than the roads for a cyclist who is riding 10-20 miles an hour. Let the cyclist take the extra 30 seconds out of your day, slow down and pass them carefully and avoid a traffic accident that could cost you thousands. If you are a cyclist follow the rules of the road, wear bright clothes, and try to be as courteous as you can to other drivers.