Motorists must share the road with cyclistsPublished Jun 26, 2013 at 8:02 am (Updated Jun 26, 2013 at 10:52 am)
I am writing in response to the recent rash of publicity regarding bicyclists sharing roads with motorists.
I am a cyclist. I am also a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a friend, a co-worker and an acquaintance. Three days a week, I ride my bicycle from my home in the South Hills to my office in the Strip District. Doing so has made me healthier and happier, and allows me to save money and natural resources.
I pay taxes. I own a home and pay property tax. I am employed, and I pay all required income taxes. I own a car, and I pay for all of the expenses associated with that, including gasoline, insurance, license and registration and the same “road taxes” that any other motorist pays. In fact, when I was hit on my bicycle by an inattentive driver in 2008, my auto insurance initially covered part of the bills, although ultimately the motorist’s insurance company paid for the collision damages.
As a cyclist, I am legally allowed to ride in the right lane of West Liberty Avenue, in the middle of the lane, and I do. I am legally allowed to pass a line of cars on the right, along the curb, when those cars are stopped for a traffic control device. I stop at red lights and stop signs, and I yield at yield signs.
As a motorist, you are required to give me four feet of clearance when overtaking me on the road. Yes, that means you need to switch lanes to pass me. If you cannot do so, slow down and wait until you can. By law, you may cross a double yellow line to allow for the required clearance, again waiting until it is safe to do so.
I fully realize that many cyclists run red lights, weave through traffic, don’t signal turns and disobey the law. It angers me just as it angers you. However, I don’t ride that way, and I should not be lumped in with those who do ride in that manner, just as I don’t lump all motorists together on the actions of a few. The majority of motorists I encounter are polite and observant of the law. However, three years of video evidence from my handlebar mounted video camera will show hundreds of motorist violations such as running stop signs, rolling through a right turn on red, turning without signalling, weaving between lanes, not to mention texting, reading the paper, shaving and putting on makeup in a moving vehicle. Some motorists have taken to “buzzing” my bicycle, by passing too close and leaning on the horn, or revving the engine. The video evidence from my camera has resulted in one careless driving conviction, and several pending citations for similar offenses.
Cyclists and motorists need to share the roads. It is the law, and it is the right of both groups to use the roads. Both groups need to get better at sharing, and being aware of the issues and concerns of the other group.