Cyclists, act like a motorist; drivers, treat them that way

There have been numerous cyclist-automobile accidents in our city this summer, and I feel compelled to write.

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Published August 28, 2007 by The Peterborough Examiner

Editorial – There have been numerous cyclist-automobile accidents in our city this summer, and I feel compelled to write.

Ours is an active community with accessibility to numerous outdoor pursuits.

We have a large cycling community and numerous residents choose cycling as their primary mode of transportation, many year round.

That said, there is a disturbing lack of understanding pertaining to drivers sharing the road with cyclists.

I have had one close call where I was nearly hit by a car, and my husband, an avid cyclist, has had more near misses than he will even admit to me.

I fear that these accidents are occurring on a more frequent basis and we are not doing enough to educate the public.

After one of the more recent accidents, where a driver and occupant of a car were charged, safety tips and rules of the road were printed in The Examiner for cyclists.

Needless injuries and preventable deaths will continue to occur until we all learn to share the road.

We have recently returned from a trip where we were cycling on the east coast, and were particularly impressed by the cyclist-friendly policies and initiatives of the state of Maine.

Many drivers are unaware that under the Highway Traffic Act, cyclists are legally allowed to ride on any part of the roadway and they are entitled to ride in the centre of a lane when they feel it is too narrow for a motor vehicle to pass them, or if they feel their safety is compromised.

They should not be passed if oncoming traffic is near, the same as with any slow moving vehicle. Another oft-encountered situation is when drivers pass cyclists only to pull in front of them and turn right, or worse, park.

My husband had an incident earlier this summer where an elderly driver pulled in front of him and then parked in the bike lane.

That the city allows parking in designated bike lanes is in itself a problem, but catastrophe was narrowly avoided as he had to travel up over the grass and sidewalk to avoid the parked car.

He could not stop as there were several other cyclists traveling behind him.

Cyclists often travel at great speeds and passing and right-turning cars often do not consider this.

To quote the Bicycle Coalition of Maine: "Driving on the roads requires care and courtesy whether you are driving a car or a bicycle . . . Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles."

A small amount of consideration could save a life.

KIMBERLY MacDOUGALL Baker Street