Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Plain Dealer: Cyclists, drivers need to share

Plain Dealer columnist Regina Brett wrote this article for today's Sunday paper (click here for the link):

Who owns the road?

When it comes down to bikes vs. cars, it all depends on whom you ask.

Motorists want bikes to speed up.

Cyclists want cars to slow down.

Who wins?

That's like asking where a 500-pound gorilla sits.

I hosted "The Sound of Ideas" radio show on bike safety Friday morning on WCPN FM/90.3

Fifteen minutes after leaving Ideastream, I saw a shaken bicyclist standing on the side of Carnegie Avenue, his bike on the ground, blood dripping from his chin and a horrified motorist handing him tissues.

Thank goodness the cyclist wasn't seriously hurt or killed.

Last year, there were 2,066 accidents in Ohio involving bikes. Of those, 18 were fatal. Even the best cyclists can get hit.

Last month, Miles Coburn was struck and killed by an SUV in Geauga County. Coburn was a seasoned cyclist who rode thousands of miles every year. He was an environmentalist and popular biology professor who left behind a wife and two kids. What a loss to his family and the John Carroll University community.

So, who owns the road?

We all do. The road belongs to both bikes and cars. We all have the same rights. It's time we share the same responsibilities. The Ohio Bicycle Federation at offers a bumper sticker that reads: SHARE THE ROADS. Same Roads. Same Rights. Same Rules.

Good motto. Laws govern most of the movement out there, but so do basic courtesy and civility.

Cyclists are not moving targets to throw cups at, to curse at, or to sideswipe for laughs.

Motorists are not members of the Evil Empire just because they're driving a gas guzzling polluting hunk of metal.

Cyclists can't choose to be a car, a bike or a pedestrian depending upon the mood or the situation. Bikes are considered to be vehicles. If you ride on the road, you follow the laws that cover vehicles. They aren't optional.

You ride with the traffic. You stop at red lights and stop signs. You don't weave through stopped cars to get ahead. You don't ride five abreast. You signal your turns.

If you want to be safe, wear a helmet. If you ride at night, we can't see you unless you have reflectors or lights. If you wear headphones, you won't hear us.

Motorists should remember kindergarten. You have to share. It's that simple. Bicyclists have an equal right to the road. Yes, even when they're only going 10 miles an hour.

Take a deep breath and wait until you have room to pass. Keep 3 feet away from bikes when passing.

There shouldn't be a need to say it, but there is: Don't harass cyclists. Marty Cader, the bicycle/pedestrian coordinator for the Cleveland City Planning Commission, told me someone threw a chunk of wood at him while he was biking.

Cyclists are dodging potholes, gravel and parked cars. They shouldn't have to dodge you. Stay off your cell phones and slow down.

With gas climbing past $4, we're going to see more bikes on the road, which is a good thing for all of us.

Let's make it safer for them, and for everyone else, too.

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