The news always seems to be carrying some story about a cyclist and a driver getting into a fight or of a cyclist being struck by a car while they are riding. When these stories are discussed in the comments section of a news site tempers flare and heated arguments about sharing the road break out. The pattern is so consistent that you can predict it pretty accurately:
- Cyclists hate drivers that don’t give them enough room on the road
- Drivers hate cyclists that use roads they didn’t pay for
- Cyclists hate drivers that don’t pay attention
- Drivers hate cyclists that see stop signs and traffic lights as optional
- Cyclists hate drivers that think bikes can’t be lawfully ridden on the road
- Drivers hate cyclists that slow traffic
The number of arguments leveled at one another is the ultimate fodder for Interweb trolls but the consistent pattern I see is the hatred part. As a vehicle driver and dedicated cyclist I’d like to take a slightly different approach to this:
Dear 99% of Drivers:
In the last year I’ve put close to four thousand miles on my various bikes, a large number of them on public roads in several states. While I have encountered my share of drivers that either don’t see me or don’t want me on the road, you were not one of them.
You pulled your vehicle as far over as you safely could to give me the room I need for both of us to share the road together.
You waited an extra 5 seconds to let me pass before making that right turn that would have cut me off.
On that narrow country road you stayed behind me when we approached that blind curve or hill until I could see ahead to tell you the road was clear and that you could pass me safely.
You weren’t composing a text message on your cell phone at the same moment you began to pass me on the road. Or ever while you were driving for that matter.
You saw me trying to cross a busy road and safely slowed down, flashing your lights to let me cross without disrupting the flow of traffic or making the people behind you slam on their brakes.
When you pulled up to an intersection to make a right turn you didn’t automatically push the nose of your car out into the area my bike was riding in.
These are just a few of the things you did to help us both safely share the road. I don’t know if you could tell by seeing me on my bike but I’m a father, a husband, a neighbor, a son, a brother and a friend. I do know that you saw me as a person, not as an obstacle that needed to be overcome. Your awareness of your surroundings wasn’t limited to the interior of your car.
In return I promise to do my part. I’ll continue to keep as far right as I safely can. Sometimes I have to swing out a little further into the road than I like because I’ve had people open their car doors into me. I may hold you up on narrow roads but I want you to safely pass me as soon as possible; as soon as I see that you can pass I’ll wave you forward and if I can pull it off safely I’ll wave to you or give you a thumbs up. I know you’re just following the law but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it.
Sure, there are still lots of drivers out there that don’t understand how fragile a person on a bike is and there are lots of cyclists that disregard common courtesy and the rules of the road as well. The reality is they are a minority, and hopefully a shrinking one.
This letter isn’t directed at them though. It’s directed at you. Thanks for sharing the road with me.
For the last several years my blog has focused on switching from Windows to Mac and the occasional posts on starting a new business. These are both topics I intend to continue with, I just want to mix in my passion for cycling and exercise as well. I’m always looking at technology that I can use with my Macs, iPhone or iPad to make my cycling and exercise experiences better and hope to write about that as well.