For My Fellow Bicyclists

This is not a sales pitch or some self-aggrandizement comment.

I saw something this morning that finally made me decide to pass on some of my many miles of bicycling wisdom. 🙂  I’ve been a cyclist for over 50 years. I raced road bikes in the 80′ and 90’s and have been known to ride year ’round on my mountain bike. I still have studded snow tires as I still, occasionally, ride in the winter.

My philosophy is that EVERYONE behind the wheel is out to get you. Years ago I had a woman look straight into my eyes as she was turning into a gas station. I realized at the last second that despite that, she did not see me. She looked straight through me as if I wasn’t there. That was the defining moment for me to stop being an idiot and after work I bought one of those early Bell helmets that weighed about 5 pounds. And never, ever assume that a driver sees me.

You plus your bike are not more than 200 or so pounds. (Sorry, I know many of you are smaller but I had to pick a number.) That car you’re about to meet weighs 3,500 pounds plus driver, etc. The person driving the car is NOT looking for such a small target as a person on a bike. They’re looking for something else far larger than you. Hell, a 1700 pound moose doesn’t normally win against a car.

What I see as I drive around is the arrogance of a lot of bicyclists that says, “I am a bicyclist and I have the right-of-way.” Well, that’s all fine and dandy but as I said earlier, that person you’re about to challenge is driving a 3500 pound hunk of steel.

There used to be a PSA that said, “Having the right-of-way doesn’t prevent you from being dead right.” Bicyclists generally don’t win against a car.

All that said, here’s a bit of advice from one who has luckily never been hit. I have been terribly close more than once, though. Thank the Higher Powers I’m still here to write about it.

First rule: ALWAYS go behind the lead car turning at an intersection. That includes cars coming out of driveways. This is what I saw this morning. Two bicyclists, on a bike path, AND lit up like Christmas trees, crossed in front of a person turning into the side street who apparently didn’t see either. The lead cyclist hollered. Now we have at least two if not three people who were unnecessarily frightened first thing in the morning. I’m not a wuss but I would have simply slowed down on the bike and let the driver turn in. It would have taken maybe two seconds longer to reach the light up the street. It beats hell out of being a Kia hood ornament.

Second rule: Play by the rules. I’ve seen cyclists blast through lights and stop signs. Stupid. Especially in the long dark winters of Alaska.

Third rule: This is a play on a general aviation flying proverb: There are old pilots and bold pilots but there are no old, bold pilots. Same rule applies to bicyclists. Old and bold cyclists is an oxymoron.

Your life, your choice. Please think about you versus the car. Rightly or wrongly, you lose and I need you here to read my books.