I love this insightful piece from Writer Casey Stone. It makes a lot of sense and clarifies the issues involved.
SIX THINGS CYCLISTS WISH ALL DRIVERS WOULD UNDERSTAND
1. We are doing you a favor.
Every time a cyclist joins the road, there is one less car stuck in traffic. There are fewer people blocking intersections, and taking up the HOV lane with only one person in the car, and burning up gas while waiting to move forward an inch. Not only does driving cars less help the world environmentally, it directly helps the people who are still in cars, and looking for the roads to be less clogged. Our presence on the road is beneficial to you, and making your commute easier.
2. We have just as much of a right to be on the road as you.
It’s often hard for drivers to understand that cyclists have a right to be on the road, because we’re not the same kind of vehicle, and we obviously can’t do the same things as a car. But the truth is that we do have a right to be on them, and if you’re wondering to yourself “Why is there a bike on this road, he should get on a sidewalk!” you don’t understand how bikes actually work. Being on sidewalks when you’re cycling at any normal speed is extremely dangerous, for both the cyclists and the pedestrians. We are supposed to be on the road, and we all have to learn to accommodate one another.
3. You get a dent, we get a trip to the hospital (or worse).
The thing about hitting someone on a bike when you’re in a car is that, for you, it isn’t really a big deal. Often, drivers are much more attentive when it comes to not hitting another car, because they know it could lead to serious vehicle damage or injury. But you should be even more attentive when it comes to cyclists, because even a small collision could mean serious injury or death for us. I’ve had two friends be seriously injured by taxis while biking (in the bike lane) on city streets. Insurance ended up covering both of them, but they were out of commission for months, and one of them is still tied up in court with the driver. If you hit a bike, your life goes on, but ours might not.
4. We’re probably going a lot faster than you think.
Compared to a car, bikes often look slow, but we can be going the speed limit or above, depending on the skill of the cyclist (and the incline of the road). Thinking that the worst that can happen is we just run off the road or topple over is silly, because at the speeds we’re going, we can injure ourselves just as badly as someone in a car.
5. Our lanes don’t often exist.
Everyone on a bike has experienced the bike lanes that suddenly disappear, or are obstructed with construction work, or has someone parked in them “just for a second.” And it’s not every driver’s job to fix this, but being vigilant is a must, because if we have to swerve into your lane to avoid a parked car and you aren’t seeing the same things we are, you can easily hit us for doing the right thing. We should all be keeping an eye on bike lanes, because they affect all of us.
6. You have to look out for us.
At the end of the day, it’s not optional. We share the road, we are commuting and working and living together, and hopefully more cyclists will be joining the road every day. Looking out for us, and making sure totally avoidable accidents don’t occur on your watch is how using the road is supposed to happen. And if you give that courtesy to other cars, you should give it to bikes. Period. TC mark