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Letter: A city cyclist explains realities of the road

One assumes the letter writer (Everybody’s Column, Sept. 4) concerned for cyclists’ safety really cares about keeping us upright and alive. But maybe some insight into what cyclists face each ride would lead to a broader sensitivity about cycling safety.

Cars to cyclists are like NFL linemen to kindergartners. We will never win a confrontation, and most drivers regard us as a nuisance to begin with. Agreed, cyclists are responsible for following traffic rules and signaling their intentions.

But for all drivers, here’s what we contend with while riding. First, consider that we often can’t hear you coming behind us, due to the wind in our ears. And when you fly by 15 to 20 mph above the speed limit, your side-view mirror inches from our elbows, we do get angry. Will arriving 30 seconds sooner really make your day?

Because as you speed toward us, we’re concentrating on the road to avoid gravel, sand, broken glass, sunken manhole covers, tire-popping potholes, railroad tracks, wet leaves, road kill, puddles, sodden plastic bags and/or metal road grates.

Then there is vigilance against the careless people opening their driver’s-side door without checking to see who is coming. And, pedestrians crossing in front of us while talking on their phones. We have a two-foot-wide strip of the least-tended asphalt, while you often have a bail-out lane; our bailout is the curb.

We ride in groups for safety. Two, three, 10 riders, as the letter writer noted, are more noticeable. I’ve had numerous drivers glide through a right on red when I had the green light, never seeing me until I was perpendicular to their driver’s side door. This despite blinding warning lights front and back.

Everyone needs to work to keep cyclists safe, especially riders themselves, because a confrontation with a car won’t end well. I just wish more drivers realized that. Slow down, toot your horn to warn us, go wide around us if you can and if you can’t, stay back until it’s safe to pass, don’t jet by angrily like you wish we weren’t there.

Steve Bell


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