I've had this post in my head for a while now, but recent events have made me want to write it even more.
Last week a girl was riding her bike down a street a few miles from my house when someone hit her from behind and left her there to die. She had been riding with a group, but fallen behind. She was wearing a helmet and had lights on her bike. She was 24 years old. Here's the article if you want to read more.
Today, I drove past the site and saw that they had placed a bike there on the corner. It was painted completely white with flowers laid all around, and had an inscription that said, "Memorial to Fallen Cyclists." It made me want to cry as I sat there at the red light. A beautiful reminder of the beautiful life that was lost because someone wasn't paying attention for a second while they were driving. It is such a terrible tragedy that never should have happened.
Whether you're in a car or on a bike, it all comes down to being careful and courteous when you're out there on the road.
Cyclists, you need to follow traffic laws and pay attention. I don't know if it's just my neighborhood or if it's everywhere, but I see people riding bikes on the wrong side of the road all the time! Also they just ride on the sidewalks and will shoot across the street unexpectedly. (These people are usually the ones not wearing helmets too). I came across this interesting (read: scary) video of an intersection in NYC that points out all the wrong places/times people ride/drive.
I can kind of see the logic of riding on the wrong side because you can see the cars coming so that makes you feel safer. What these people may not realize is that cars are not expecting someone to be coming towards them in their lane like that! They aren't looking for someone coming from the right when turning or crossing an intersection. The same goes with riding on the sidewalks, cars aren't watching for someone to come shooting across the street from a sidewalk.
If cyclists don't follow the traffic rules, it just makes drivers dislike them that much more, and doesn't help when we're trying to share the road with them.
Drivers, just calm the heck down! Is it really going to hurt you that much to slow down when you see someone on a bike in front of you? And heaven forbid you move over into the other lane! Is it really necessary to honk at us like we're just out there to be rude and get in your way? Seriously, I can't believe the amount of cars that will just zoom past me, nice and close, when there's even another lane they could move over into. It's the law (at least here in Utah) that a car should to be at least 3 feet away from a cyclist when passing them. If there's room to move over, then move over. If there's not, then just slow down until there is room. It's really not going to make you that much more late if you slow down for a minute. Really. You might think it will ruin your day to have to slow down for a cyclist, but think about how it would ruin your life if you hit someone. We're literally risking our lives when we're out there. All of us.
Also, be courteous with what you put in the street. I hate it when I'm out riding and there's broken glass or other debris on the side of the road. It's even worse when things are put in the designated bike lane! The kids and I ride bikes to school a lot and there are usually cars parked in the bike lane to go around, and I hate when it's garbage day because there are garbage cans all out in the way. Ethan actually ran into a garbage can the last time and hurt his wrist. Sometimes the kids ride on the sidewalk, but that makes me nervous too because of the steep hills you have to go up/down to get on/off the street when crossing and there are some places where cars can't even see you if you're on the sidewalk and about to cross the street. I'd rather have them be seen.
On a lighter note, here's a funny video of the guy in NYC who made a video to make a point about how riding in the bike lane isn't always safe. (Too bad Ethan's not as good at crash landing as this guy!)
I'm going to ride my bike outside tomorrow, and I pray, like I do every time I ride, that I will return to my family safe and sound.