I wanted to do a blog that was a bit different. I want to write about Cars vs Bikes. I have been driving since September of 1991. If you count all of the cars that I have owned in the 25 years that I have driven it comes out to about 500,000 miles. I have been biking since I was a kid. But as a kid I was either on the sidewalks or in a quiet neighborhood where I wasn’t concerned about cars. As an adult I have been riding since August 2008. In those 9 years I have close to 20,000 miles on the road.
The triathlon/cycling community is very small in general. I’m sure you have all heard of the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon. Meaning every actor/actress in a movie can be connected to Kevin Bacon in 6 people or less. In the triathlon/cycling community this number would be closer to 2-3. So when a person is killed or injured chances are very high a friend of a friend on Facebook or the Ironman community knows this person. It hits close to home.
Death and Injuries
As an active cyclist and triathlete I am very aware of people getting injured or killed as a result of a car. In 2014, the latest data available, shows that 726 people were killed involving a motor vehicle while riding their bike. With an addition 50,000 injured. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812282
What this means is almost two people are killed per day and 137 are injured everyday. 71% of these killed are happening in urban areas. The average age has spiked to 45 from 39 in 2005.
82% of drivers and 78% of cyclists didn’t have any alcohol in their blood. While 13% of drivers and 19% of cyclists has a blood alcohol level of .08 or more.
On Facebook the majority of my friends are either cyclists or runners. I have a handful of friends who have posted about annoying cyclists taking up the majority of the road. Let me share some thoughts I have….
- When you come up a cyclist or a group of cyclists please slow down. You slowing down isn’t going to cause you to be late anymore than you are. Slowing down costs you 30 seconds tops.
- Buzzing by cyclists and trying to get as close as you can because you are pissed isn’t the answer.
- If you see a cyclist or a group of cyclists out in the middle of the road and they don’t appear to be moving out of the way lightly tap your horn. Give them a friendly horn. For example in a group (called a peloton) maybe they are two wide.
- Cyclists are always communicating with each other. The majority of time it may be hand signals. When we see or hear a car we do yell “Car Back!”
- A lot of states have the three feet rule. Meaning you have to give a cyclist or pedestrian a minimum of three feet. I have no idea how to measure 3ft when I am out riding. If you are a driver at the very least you should have a set of tires on the yellow line. I recommend putting at least half of your car over the yellow line if no car is coming in the opposite direction.
- If you are coming up on a cyclist and going say 45 mph and another car is coming the opposite please slow down. Maintaining speed and coming close to a cyclist(s) just so you don’t have to slow down is wrong.
- Most groups of cyclists are riding on quiet roads. We’re on quiet roads because we don’t want to deal with traffic. If you see a large group of cyclists on a major road it means two things. One they have a nice break down lane or they are just going to turn off shortly to get back onto a quiet road.
- You need to make sure you are staying as close to the side of the road as possible.
- Following the rules of the road is a must. You need to obey the same rules as drivers. For example, going with traffic, stopping at stop lights/stop signs, & using your own lane.
- When you go to pass another cyclist or attempt to come out of your bike lane you need to look back.
- You should if possible be riding with a light on the back of your bike.
- When coming up to an intersection even if the light is green slow down a bit. Cars do pull out in front of cyclists because they are looking for cars and not cyclists.
- We as cyclists need to be very aware of the cars around us.
- Communicating with cars with hand signals has its benefits.
I have had a few close calls while being on the bike. Most of my confrontations have come from angry males speeding then turning around to tell me off. I refuse to interact with these people. The last time this happened in October of 2014 it was about 4 days after my latest Ironman and this guy buzzed me coming around a corner speeding and I stuck up my hands (no I didn’t flip him off) he turned around and started swearing at me. I honestly just smiled and waved to him. What was he going to do stop the car and chase me? 🙂
On side roads I don’t quite understand because it’s dangerous to be going excessively fast on these side roads. As a driver when I see cyclists in the middle of the lane for no reason other than to talk to their friends it can be annoying especially if I am in a hurry. But truthfully what’s the rush?
As a runner I have close calls all of the time. This is because of a few reasons. Most cars don’t stop at stop signs. So if you are running on a side walk and you come up on a street, that stop sign is usually just before the path of the sidewalk or just after. Either way cars don’t stop there and they are usually looking the opposite way. As a runner you have to be even more aware. Most drivers are looking for other cars and not pedestrians.
Cars and cyclists need to work together. You both need to be aware of each other. We all need to be a bit more patient. Stay safe everyone!!!!!