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Riding with traffic flow is too risky for bicyclists

I have had it. I just had the umpteenth scare of my life while bicycle riding. Although the weather is cold, many of us bikers still are out exercising our rights to ride.

I take to the roads three or four times a week because I love to ride and because my physicians list the not-so-pleasant consequences of remaining stagnant and stout.

But the fact is, I am out of breath and my heart is pounding out of my chest -- from fright.

The other day, as I pedaled down the road, helmet secure, rear-view mirror in place, a near fatal tragedy occurred. I was riding on the shoulder-side of the solid white line when I heard a car approaching from behind. I glanced in my mirror to see exactly how far back the car was.

At that very moment, I caught a quick glimpse as the approaching vehicle began to pick up speed. It was bearing down fast now, and I was struggling to keep an eye on the road and an eye on my rear-view mirror at the same time.

I could hear the whine of the engine as it accelerated at a fierce pace. Even worse, this speeding monster was staying close to the shoulder, not allowing any kind of space between us. Keeping my eyes straight ahead, to make sure I was not swerving, I became totally vulnerable and unable to fend off the next vicious move made.

Flying by within two inches of my bike, the driver suddenly laid on the horn just as he was about to pass me. I could hear the howls of laughter coming from the car as I jumped up in my seat.

My bike began to swerve. My heart was pounding from the sudden loud and sustained horn blast, and I nearly fainted.

By the time I recovered my stability and my senses, the vehicle was gone. I couldn't even describe the car -- other than a blur of white -- much less get a license plate number.

This attack has taken the starch right out of me. At this point, I can't just get over it. I am now campaigning for my safety. I live in an area that hosts a beautiful bike path, but I am single and don't have someone available to accompany me whenever my erratic schedule permits riding time.

Since the horrifying details of the bike path rapist and murderer have been revealed, I do not feel safe there either. As a result, I have given up riding the bike path alone. But I will not give up biking altogether.

I firmly feel that riding with the traffic flow is a very dangerous policy. I do not want to have cars coming up behind me, where I cannot safely keep my eye on the path they are pursuing. I want them to come toward me, where I can keep an eye on the driver, and the driver can keep an eye on me.

I have researched the law, and do not agree that a bicycle should be in the same vehicular category as a car or truck. Other vehicles aren't moving to make allowances for me and my bike, and it is ludicrous to think I can pedal fast enough to keep up with traffic.

On the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law Web site, the Governor's Proclamation of 2007 states, "The cyclist should attempt to establish eye contact and adjust his/her activity in anticipation that the motorist is not aware of their presence." Just how do they think cyclists can establish eye contact with vehicles behind them?

I think we should consider changing this law. Because I know that I feel safer when I can see what's coming!

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