We went on the memorial ride yesterday in memory of the two cyclists who were killed and one who was injured when a freak incident/accident of a sheriff on patrol duty drove across the double yellow line on Stevens Canyon Rd into the wrong direction, one week ago.
It was a quiet, subdued ride. There was no sense of blame, which is common in bike-car incidents. Only a sense of “share the road”, we’re all here together, let’s respect each other, cyclists and motorists. Each and all of us should drive safely, on two wheels or four. There’s bad cyclists and bad motorists to be sure. But bicyclists are more vulnerable, without a shell of steel or fiberglass and mass. As motorists, please do look out for cyclists. Treat them as equals on the road (bicyclists are supposed to obey the rules of the road,) so don’t do things you wouldn’t do to other cars.
For instance, sometimes on my bike, I stop at a 4-way stop sign, after another car has arrived at the cross street. The car should go first, but he stays, waving me to go first. If I was driving a car, he’d have no problem going first. While I appreciate his kindness, I have to educate him and yell at him “You go first!”
But bottom line for motorists is . . . s . . l . . o . . w . . d . . o . . w . . n. It takes you five minutes to drive to the store, which takes me 15 minutes to bike the same distance. If you slow down a little, it only takes you perhaps an extra minute or so, still much less than my 15-minutes-on-bike. By slowing down, you will improve the overall safety for everyone, you and me. By slowing down you can see others better; be more aware of the pedestrians, bicyclists, elderly, the young; have more time to react, and god forbid if you hit something or someone, the damage is a little less because you’re hitting them at a lower speed.
The other thing is to pay attention to the road and what’s going on there; and or minimize distractions while you are driving. When you are driving, your priority should be to focus on the road. No cell phone, no fiddling with the radio, and try not to talk too much with other passengers. Feel free to break off the conversation, i.e. when you’re about to merge or change lanes. Safety is more important than temporary rudeness.
If you find yourself in the wrong position, i.e. stuck in the right lane when you were supposed to turn left: Don’t cut people off, inconvenience other traffic, or engage in sudden moves/risky driving behaviour just to make it to your original route, which is dangerous and rude. Just go with the flow of traffic, stay in the right lane and go further to detour to turn around within acceptable driving behaviour. It takes a bit longer, but again, it’s safer for everyone. And besides, if you get there an extra minute later, so what? You were driving a car; if you had to make the trip by bike, foot or transit, it would have still taken much longer.