Another View: Spring is in the air and that means more bikes on the road!

By: Charlene Miskimen, guest columnist
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At the writing of my last column (March 20) the cycling community was in a riding frenzy, what with the early arrival of spring and all. Or so we thought!
Now, as the rain finally subsides we are all eager to hit the roads and rack up some miles. May is Bike Month and there are contests and prizes to win and we also have some pizza calories to burn.
So, I’d like to address the question from last time that left you all hanging, waiting with baited breath, no doubt ... what is the responsibility of both the driver and the cyclist when we encounter each other on a curvy, Sierra Foothills road with no marked bike lane?
First of all, it should go without saying (but I’m going to say it anyway) that both parties should obey the posted speed limit. It’s there for a reason. The next thing to bear in mind is that whether or not there is any marked bike lane, bicycles are as much a vehicle on the road as any petrol-driven chariot. We are just a whole lot smaller and with far less protective armor and air bags surrounding us.
So, with that said, it would only make common sense that the car or truck should slow down to pull around the cyclist when it is safe. Give us as wide a berth as possible. That might mean that you will have to follow us for a moment or two. That really shouldn’t be a big deal unless you have a woman in labor in your car.
Please don’t floor it and fly past us. If we were to have a tire blow or take a fall at that moment, there would be a dangerous situation and definitely painful for the cyclist. Recurring nightmares would ensure for both the driver and the cyclist.
As you come up behind us it would be OK to tap your horn just to let us know you are there. Sometimes our labored breathing drowns out all other sounds!
Now, it’s the cyclists turn. Our responsibility since we are typically moving much slower is to pull over to the right side of the road near the white line, also called the “fog line.” Don’t continue riding two or three across when a vehicle is trying to pass. That is just plain rude and it’s unsafe.
Furthermore, if you are holding up more than three vehicles then you are not practicing the “Share the Road” philosophy. Contrary to popular belief we are not required to move over beyond that white line. Remember, we are a vehicle.
Cyclists are a social, chatty group but that does not mean it is OK to force the car into the other lane altogether. Nearly all cyclists are also vehicle owners and drivers but no all drivers are cyclists. We should know better how to conduct ourselves around cars.
As the number of cyclists on the road increase because cycling is such a great recreational activity, these encounters are also going to increase. Instead of taking an all or nothing approach such as “all cyclists need to be off the roads or all cars need to be off the road,” I think we should all take a more mature and courteous approach to sharing the road.
After all, we all want to get home safely to our families and, who knows, if cyclists and drivers could better get along on the road then we might start a trend.
The world could use a bit more common sense, courtesy and good manners.
I hope this helps and, until next time, happy pedaling and why don’t you give a wave to the drivers and cyclists you pass on the road next time!
Charlene Miskimen is the ride director with Sierra Foothills Cycling Club and has been cycling for four years.


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