Health & Fitness.

Share The Road.

If you want to lose your faith in humanity, read the comments on any news article ever. People insult the subjects of tragic news stories like it’s a game and the prize is a trophy that says, “World’s Biggest Jackass”. Then imagine the subject of that news article is someone in your family, or a friend, or a member of your church and they post that they have a family member who has had a tragic accident that has resulted in an injury to the brain and that because it wasn’t their fault they’ve had to contact some California brain injury lawyers to see if they are intitled to make a claim, you’d feel awful wouldn’t you…then read those same comments and feel your heart break a million times over. Now…make the subject of the tragedy a cyclist. Those comments become a million times worse. Commenters on news sites seem to HATE cyclists with a passion of 1000 suns. Any time a cyclist gets injured in a traffic accident, you get tons of people out of the woodwork shouting, “Good riddance!” and if those people injured were people you knew? In your community? You want to find those people writing those comments and punch them a million times. Trust me. I felt this yesterday as news spread in our triathlon community that two of our own had be involved in an accident yesterday.

So, I’m asking you to do me a favor. Especially if you’re not a cyclist/triathlete or if you know a lot of people who are not cyclists/triathletes…will you talk about my husband and I? Maybe just casually reference your friend (me) who has a husband (him) who does 100+ mile bike rides training for his Ironman. Or maybe talk about that cool bike race/time trial your friend’s husband did where they LITERALLY pushed him off a ramp to get him going. Or maybe tell the story of the time your friend’s husband’s phone fell out of the back pocket of his cycling jersey when he was speeding down a hill, so he used “find my iPhone” to track it down and discovered it smashed (of course) on the side of the road. But the weird part was there was another smashed phone right next to it!

Why should you tell those stories around your friends who aren’t cyclists?

Because we need to put humanity on the road with our loved ones. We need everyone to know someone who is a cyclist, even if it’s a few degrees of separation. We need people to want to share the road because that girl on that bike might be their friend’s wife. Or their neighbor’s husband. Or in your case – their friend’s, friend’s husband. They need to be seen as HUMAN.

It’s different for Donnie and I. We were very much an antisocial homebodies before we discovered running and triathlons, so all of our friends are the humans on the road on their bikes. If they’re not on the road on their bikes, they’re on the roads on their feet so they know plenty of cyclists. None of us see a cyclist when driving and think about anything other than the safety of both parties because that could be our friend, our spouse, or our brother. Most of the time it is someone we know. That’s how tight this community is.

But I think a lot of people see a cyclist on the road and see one thing and one thing only: FRUSTRATING INCONVENIENCE.

Do you know how people care for frustrating inconveniences? They don’t.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because a few months ago, someone shared out a photo from a local person who had taken a picture of the cyclist on the road in front of her (legally on the road, following the law and being safe, unlike the person taking the picture) and was complaining about the cyclist. Since she was local I checked to make sure we had no overalapping Facebook friends. We did not. THANK GOD. But her message was: “Look at this guy! How annoying! He’s on the road! GRR! I hate cyclists!” And what was the response of her friends? “I know! I hate cyclists! They’re so rude! Why aren’t they on the sidewalk?”

And then worse? There were several “jokes” about running him off the road.

That could have been my husband. My brother. My friend. A Mom. An aunt. A sister. A grandmother.

Here’s the thing…every city/state can/does have their own traffic laws. But cyclists always have a right to the road and – in most cases I believe – it’s illegal for the ones like my husband to be on sidewalks and greenways. They’re going too fast. Not only would they injure pedestrians, but they would inevitably get hit by a car because drivers are not accustomed to checking sidewalks at every turn, especially not for a cyclist going 20 miles an hour.

So, it’s illegal here and in most places for VERY GOOD REASONS.

Is it inconvenient for you if you are stuck behind them? Possibly. But so is getting behind a school bus at a train track. Or a piece of farm equipment. Or mail trucks. Or a driver like me who makes sure the traffic is clear for 14 miles before I turn. There are tons of inconveniences on the road. Do we wish them ill will? Well…I know people wish me ill will because I get yelled at all the time for being a Grandma Driver. But do we wish school buses or tractors ill will? No.

Are some cyclist assholes? Yep. I have had one cyclist be an asshole to me. One. Do you know how many asshole drivers I’ve encountered? Hundreds? Thousands?

Do some cyclists ignore traffic rules? Yes. My husband and I see it often and it angers us as much as it angers you. Do some cyclists do their rides on unpassable roads at rush hour? Yes. BUT STILL…not representative of all cyclists. And STILL, not an indicator that they are not someone’s sister, or someone’s grandfather. They are still PEOPLE. Just because a cyclist is not a GOOD cyclist doesn’t mean they deserve to get hit, and definitely does not mean that every cyclist ignores the law. As a matter of fact, the cyclists I know are VERY quick to correct someone doing it wrong, because they know it gives us all a bad name.

I just want everyone to get to know a cyclist. Or get to know someone who is a cyclist. It would change their perspective greatly. Legally, they are allowed the road, that’s not going to change. I’m sorry if that’s an inconvenience to you (and it can’t be THAT bad of an inconvenience, they’re not everywhere at all times) but it’s a fact of life. Get over it. But can we at least try to spread stories and knowledge about cyclists so that everyone at least knows someone who knows a cyclist? Make your friends and family think of you when they see a cyclist. Maybe they’ll think, “Hmmm…I remember that story Susan told about her friend’s husband who lost his phone on a bike ride once. That was a crazy story.” and they’ll remember the person in front of them is a human being with friends and family.

In my small community alone, before yesterday, I knew of several people who had been hurt while riding and even some that had been killed. And my community is small. But yesterday? It hit closer to home. Two people from my husband’s Tri Team were hit. And now it’s all I can think about. How dangerous this hobby is, even though it shouldn’t be. There is one thing we can start to do to try and prevent these accidents from happening. People not only need to be more considerate, but after reading this guide from Intelligent Car Leasing, it may open peoples eyes to just what can be done to prevent these accidents happening so often.

So…will you just tell our stories to your friends? To your family? Especially if you don’t know any cyclists in your community. Then probably neither do your friends or family. Talk about us so that your friends and your family will think of YOU when they see a cyclist. Remind everyone those are real people on the road. Don’t stand for anyone you know bashing cyclists. Remind them that there are asshole drivers too, but that doesn’t mean they all are. Look up the laws in your area. Remind them that it’s illegal (I’m assuming everywhere, because it would be so unsafe, but I’m not certain) for fast cyclists to be on the sidewalk or greenways. (If I’m seriously training, I’m even too fast for the sidewalk and greenway, and I’m the slowest of all of my friends.)

And think of our two friends who were hurt yesterday. One with minor injuries, but another with more serious injuries that required surgery and a hospital stay. These women are experienced cyclists/Ironmen. This accident will put them out of work for months meaning they have little or no form of income. We are planning to do a fundraiser, as well as claiming compensation. We are currently looking (and for those of you that have been through a similar experience to us) we have found that there are so many companies about that offer help to get compensation specifically for bicycle accidents such as:

Its going to be a long road to recovery for them, and the fact that they were involved in an accident gave me nightmares last night because I tend to use my husband’s experience as a reason to relax more about his safety. Instead, last night, I dreamt of him being hit. I woke up terrified and sick. This accident yesterday hit too close to home. And seeing the comments on the local news stories basically celebrating this? Fuels a rage I never knew I had.

Photo by KatieBeth Pierson
Photo by KatieBeth Pierson

19 thoughts on “Share The Road.”

  1. Every time I see cyclists on the road, I’m like “I wonder if that’s Donnie!” (Never seen him, but I always look. Seen him running though!) I worry that it’s him if I hear of accidents on this end of town.

    I have almost hit someone on a sidewalk. Not that I think she should have been road riding, but I was not watching a sidewalk, my head was turned watching traffic to make a right turn on red and she and her son rode across the intersection in front of me. She’s so lucky I caught the movement out of the corner of my eye (and had I been wearing glasses instead of contacts…probably wouldn’t have). She should have made eye contact with me before ever crossing in front of my car, IMO.

  2. Living right by the Ironman Chattanooga bike route, we have seen a TON of bikers recently. On Sunday morning we had a discussion with our kids (because we were driving very slowly with a line of cars behind us) about sharing the road with cyclists. Our city has had our share of bike accidents/ deaths and some truly despicable behavior in person and online has occurred. I am truly sorry your community is going through it.

    When I was in 7th grade (late 80s) my dad was involved in a bike accident caused only by the mechanics of his bike. It happened on a busy road in AZ. A driver saw his accident an blocked him in with his car, to help protect him so he could get up and go home. This was before helmets were mandatory bike equipment. His face was a mess. My mom thought he had been in a fight. I always think of the driver of that car and his compassion to help protect my dad. And it keeps me more alert when bikers are on the road. I’m happy to go slower and be an example to other drivers on the road.

  3. I’m sorry to hear that those were your friends in yesterday’s accident. Thanks for reminding us there are assholes on the road commanding lots of different vehicles. I try to be an equal opportunity griper… doesn’t matter what you’re riding/driving if you’re in my way (LOL).

    But seriously, I never complain about cyclists who are following the rules of the road. I get annoyed at those who ignore traffic lights/stop signs and ride against traffic. Unless the rules have changed since I was taught bicycle safety (way back in the olden days), cyclists have to obey the same traffic signs/lights motorists do.

    I hope your friend recovers completely.

  4. I have known many serious cyclers in my life and have done some bike commuting in Boulder and Boston myself–as well as some sprint triathlons. It scares the bejezus out of me because there are so many cycling injuries and people in cars can be such jerks! Of course I’m a quasi-grandma car driver myself (speed limits are there for a reason, people!) but I don’t even understand getting so angry about people on bikes. So you might have to wait 2 minutes to pass them. Is your life so important? Anyway–this fires me up. And I love your request to remind people that EVERYONE on the road is a human being and deserves respect. I’ll be thinking of the women injured in your community.

  5. They have to follow the exact rules, plus some. It drives Donnie BATTY when he sees cyclist going on red just because it’s clear, he’ll say, “They give us ALL bad names.”

  6. As the wife and friend of people who have been going to Chattanooga regularly this summer to ride the course, thank you for your patience 🙂 Donnie has been very pleased with the city’s treatment of their groups!!!

    (Speaking of, I need to chat with you to see if you would recommend trying to see him on the course at all!)

  7. I need to find out what roads will be closed to answer the question. I know of a few “perfect” spots to watch the race, but can you get to them in a timely fashion? I have friends working the race, so I’ll ask them.

  8. In Florida, where I live, it is illegal for a cyclist to ride on the sidewalk unless its unsafe to ride on the street. And they are supposed to follow all the traffic laws. This means, I think, that when I have safely passed you and then stopped at a red light you should not pass me in the shoulder and then pull to the middle of the lane before stopping directly in front of me. Nor should you turn left on red because there’s s break in the traffic. Or fail to stay to the right on a two lane road. Unfortunately, none of these seem to be the norm in the cycling community here.

    This doesn’t give drivers the right to be assholes, though. You’re bigger, the damage would be so much worse – grow up.

    I do wish our cycling community applied the same peer pressure yours does, though. I have to admit. My internal response to Share the Road stickers is ‘you bet, but you, too.’

  9. While I agree its a safety rule to make sure the car sees you, I think you actually had the responsibility unless she would have had a stop sign if she had been on the street. As a reguIar pedestrian in a city regularly rated the most dangerous for pedestrians and bikes, it makes me nuts that car drivers never look at the sidewalk. I’ve even had someone roll down her window and yell at me that she almost hit me and I had to look around. I was lawfully crossing with a light in a crosswalk pushing my baby. She was turning right from behind me. Yes, I probably took a risk by not looking around better, but I absolutely had the right of way.

  10. Your community may be just bad, sure, but in general I have heard some good things about the cycling communities in Florida (lots of people here train there for the endurance events) so I’m hoping that overall it’s still a good state to train in.

  11. Here in Austin there is a very narrow and curvy road (very low visibility) that is my standard way to drive to work. Cyclist are constantly on this road.

    I’m not annoyed by their presence. It scares the SHIT out of me that they are going to be hit by a car because of the speed differential of the bike and the car and the lack of knowing they are there while taking a curve. There are very few straight portions of the road and frankly it boggles my mind WHY someone would take that route when there are a ton of roads that are WAY MORE cyclist friendly.

    And you’re right about sidewalk cyclist. I tapped a late teens/early adult guy when he was flying down the sidewalk going the wrong way on a one-way road. It scared the SHIT out of me.

  12. Well, they had actually stopped, so I was aware there was a woman and little boy on bikes stopped at the corner of the intersection. Then they chose to ride across the intersection against the walk signal when a car was turning right with the driver looking left, which I find particularly dangerous and not smart. I’m sure it would have been my fault; it scared the shit out of me and I felt terrible, even though I didn’t hit them. It still scares me to death and this was a couple of years ago.

    I was pretty much just reiterating zoot’s point that drivers aren’t particularly used to looking for bikes on sidewalks at intersections. I guess I did it poorly.

  13. What’s the rule on cutting traffic on the right? When I lived in Madison we saw cyclists do this all the time when traffic backed up at Old Madison Pike and Slaughter and it made me SO NERVOUS. Because car traffic would start picking up slowly, a cyclist would be blowing past everyone on the right, and then…a car turns right on to Slaughter. And naturally, that car doesn’t think to clear it’s right mirror, it doesn’t expect anyone to be there, it’s a two lane road!

  14. Maybe it’s because I’m almost never in a hurry anymore but I just don’t mind being behind a cyclist. I actually prefer to stay behind them on busy, multi-lane roads because I don’t want them to get hurt and I know they won’t if I’m behind them. I know it probably makes the cyclist nervous but I’ve witnessed two separate accidents where a car has hit a cyclist and I don’t want to see a third.

  15. OY. While Denver metro has it’s own tensions (impassible peletons of cyclists were common problems in Lyons for a while), it’s impossible not to know someone here who rides 20 miles to work every day. Boulder drivers look over their shoulder before any right turn expecting to wait out a cyclist. Yet my boss had a truck pass him and his friends (they were going road speed on a neighborhood road) and then slam on his brakes. The driver was happy to tell the police he was “teaching them a lesson”. I don’t feel bad hoping he learns a lesson when his insurance company gets done .. Now if people can figure out that we have a three foot rule for a reason!

    Huh, I’m a casual cyclist at best and this really struck a chord!

  16. I’ve come close to being run off the road before but fortunately have not…..yet. I was out of town when I heard about cyclists being hit Thursday and my heart dropped because odds were I would know who they were and I do. People are impatient these days. Everyone is go, go, go..always late…always gotta be somewhere. The world would be hundred times better if people would just slow down and chill. You miss so much of life and the cool things around us if you don’t. I’ll keep riding/running on the road safely and legally and try to keep my eyes and ears peeled for those who don’t seem to fully appreciate life.

  17. I used to commute by bike & this hit upon many of the thoughts I have every time I read an article where a cyclist was involved in a collision. Here in VA bicycles are considered vehicles with all of the same rights & responsibilities of a car (motor vehicle) & I get so mad reading the opinions of people who think bikes are not supposed to be on the road, all cyclists are scofflaws, etc. I bite my tongue most of the time but occasionally I meet a person with these opinions & it’s quite satisfying to confront their bigotry & occasionally (hopefully) change their minds.

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