Are You Guilty? Think About It…..

Sometimes the most common behavior reveals how stupidly impatient we can be when driving.

•••

Published September 11, 2007 by KnoxNews.com Blog

Sometimes the most common behavior reveals how stupidly impatient we can be when driving. For instance, how many times have you elected to overtake and pass a bicyclist on a blind curve or hill? We've all done it at least once. Even me, a life-long biking enthusiast who, for several years, used to pedal more than 5,000 miles per year on my two-wheeled machine.

Fortunately my driving behavior has never resulted in the death or injury of a bicyclist.

I no longer overtake bicyclists in situations where it wouldn't be safe enough to overtake a car. In fact, laws in every state in which I've ridden (that'd be most of them) state that bicycles being ridden along public highways have the same rights and responsibilities as do cars and trucks. Let me rephrase that for those who may be dimwits: That bicycle rider on the road in front of you has just as much right to be there as you do so slow down and wait until it is SAFE to pass before you do so. Sure, it might be an extra minute or two before you get a chance to pass safely but don't even think about passing on a curve or a hill where you cannot see far enough ahead to safely pass another CAR.

Be honest with yourself when you think about this. You've done it, haven't you (passed a bicycle on a blind curve or hill)?

Many of our roads are too narrow for a bicycle and a car to operate side-by-side in the same lane. Forcing a bicyclist to ride too close to the edge of the pavement just so you can pass them may result in them crashing because the edge of the pavement is usually elevated above the shoulder. Trust me on this, I've lost more than my share of skin and blood while sliding down the pavement after riding off the edge of the road onto a rough shoulder. I've also been bumped by passing vehicles, forced off the pavement by vehicles pulling trailers and have narrowly escaped being decapitated by those wide mirrors commonly seen on trucks pulling a camping trailer. I won't share the specifics about all the times I've been intentionally threatened by impatient drivers or those who just hate the fact that a bicycle is on the road in front of them. I've also seen far too many near head-on collisions caused by drivers trying to overtake a bicycle on blind curves and hills only to be met by oncoming traffic.

Whether you like it or not, bicyclists have every right to be on the same road as cars and trucks (except for limited access highways in some states). Please, share the road. Just because YOU don't think bicyclists should be on the same roadway as you doesn't mean you should put their life as risk with your driving. Most experienced bicyclists will be riding with a rear view mirror and be well-aware of the fact that you are back there in your car "chomping at the bit" to pass. When cycling on roadways I've learned to aggressively defend my right to be there. For example, I NEVER move over right next to the shoulder when on a blind hill or curve because I've found this is a sure way to invite that car behind you to attempt to pass. Think about it. I don't want you to kill me so I'm not goig to play Russian Roulette just so you can pass me where you shouldn't.

Most cyclists will move over and signal you when they feel it is safe for you to pass. A cyclist riding near the centerline or in the center of their lane while on a blind curve or hill is just trying to communicate to you that it is unsafe to pass in that area. And yes, I know the law says cyclists are to ride on the far right side of the road except when turning left. Those law writers apparently never did much bicycle riding in the real world where moving over to the far right is an invitation for all of the "can't wait" drivers to goose it and blow the cyclist over into the ditch. My conversations with many of those impatient drivers suggests most think those infernal two-wheeled slow-pokes should be riding somewhere else–certainly not on the roadway used by cars.

By the way, a new law in Tennessee, the "Jeff Roth and Brian Brown Bicycle Protection Act of 2007," became effective May 3, 2007. It states in part that “the operator of a motor vehicle when overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on the roadway, shall leave a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet (3’) and shall maintain such clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle.”

Please, don't be guilty of violating this common sense law. Sure, violation is only a Class C misdemeanor but if your actions kill the bicyclist–that's murder.