Remember, cyclists are human beings, too

Recently, a red Blazer impatiently whisked by me on Myrtle Avenue, the side-view mirror coming within a couple inches of my arm. I caught up to the driver at the light, where I told him how close he had come to me. He cut me off: "Did I hit you?"

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Published July 17, 2007 Albany Times Union 

Recently, a red Blazer impatiently whisked by me on Myrtle Avenue, the side-view mirror coming within a couple inches of my arm. I caught up to the driver at the light, where I told him how close he had come to me. He cut me off: "Did I hit you?"

"No."

"Then beat it."

The next day, a woman pulled up beside me on Myrtle, and screeched, "You're supposed to be on the right side of the road" as if I were the devil himself on a bicycle, although I contend that Lucifer would not wear a helmet. She was clearly venting a bad morning like one would grouch at a dog, as she then beeped like one possessed at a car stopped at a light.

A short traffic lesson followed by a larger lesson: On one-way streets, cyclists are supposed ride on the left to stay more in the driver's line of vision, and because there will always be a driver to open a dangerous surprise door in front of a cyclist, but if you ride on the left there will not always be a passenger. For similar reasons, we do not ride on the sidewalk, because it is often more dangerous, as drivers are so focused on the road they pay no attention to the sidewalks. The only time I was ever struck by a car was when I was riding on the sidewalk.

We do not ride in the road to irritate drivers and slow them down. Believe me, we would like nothing better than to stay out of the way of cars.

The basic issue is that we are not viewed as humans, but as obstructions in the road. We made a lifestyle choice to get around by bicycle like most people choose to drive an SUV or a hybrid, based on moral (environmental), health and economic reasons.

It takes all of five seconds to safely pass a cyclist, so next time you are "blocked" by a bicycle, look at the cyclist as a human, a father, a daughter, not as an obstruction, and ask yourself whether those five seconds are worth carrying the image of someone lying motionless in a bloody heap because of your impatience for the rest of your life. Excuse me for being melodramatic.

ADAM KROOPNICK

Albany