“Get off the road A-Hole!”
I regularly hear that sentence from drivers just before I hear the sound of loud screeching tires, accompanied by a thick black cloud of exhaust, as an over-revved engine zooms away.
The road is a dangerous place where common courtesy and common sense often get blown out the tailpipe. Cutting 30 seconds off a commute seems to be worth risking someone else’s life, or even our own.
Maybe it’s due to drivers not understanding what it’s like to be on the right side of that thin white line, if that line exists at all.
Or is it cyclists being totally oblivious to the laws of the road that they are supposed to be following?
Perhaps it’s both parties thinking that the other is always in the wrong, that they should switch to the opposing mode of transportation to experience how annoying the other is.
My guess is it’s all of the above.
However, something we should all keep in mind while on the road is that we’re sharing it.
Though we may have had negative experiences with people biking or driving in the past, let’s try not to assume they are all the same as the ones that gave us trouble before.
To those of you who go back and forth between the road and sidewalk whenever you please, choose one and stick to it until it is no longer available or safe.
When’s the last time you saw a car cut across traffic to drive on the sidewalk and then cut right back into traffic without signaling a single move?
If you choose to ride in the road, which includes the bike lane, know the laws you are supposed to follow.
Signaling before turning or braking not only makes you more predictable and less likely to be hit, but it is also the law.
Additionally, if you are going to listen to music while riding, keep it at a volume at which you can still hear cars and other cyclists around you.
Though cyclists are legally allowed to ride in the road, even if there is no bike lane, that doesn’t mean they’re always in the right.
When you encounter an unpredictable cyclist, I understand getting angry, but is that anger worth putting everyone around you at risk by passing when it’s unsafe to do so?
In many cases, passing a cyclist who is riding in the road often requires the driver to break the law and makes the situation more dangerous.
It’s safer to wait the 20 seconds, or however long it takes, until there’s room to pass.
One widely overlooked law that should always be followed, but is often ignored, is not texting while driving.
The number of times I’ve come inches away from being clipped by a vehicle while the driver is looking down at their phone is staggering. If you text and drive, you’ve probably come close to hitting someone at some point and had no idea that it ever happened.
As a cyclist, that is terrifying.
Drivers & Cyclists
Many students either drive to campus or bike next to those who do, and we often forget how powerful cars actually are.
We all make mistakes or get distracted at times when our focus is needed most, myself included.
However, understanding the responsibility that comes with operating a vehicle on the road is an important first step in preventing accidents.
Follow the laws of the road, be respectful of the people around you and if you’re biking, wear a helmet. We spend too much time and money filling our heads with information to not protect it.
This is all especially important now with more cyclists on the road in the spring and summer months.
If you don’t know the laws of the road or bike signals, or if at any point in reading this article you thought, “Oh… I’ve done that,” then read the article next to this titled, “Cyclists On The Road” for a little refresher on laws, safety tips and basic bicycle maintenance.
By Nathan Wilford,