Tuesday, April 22, 2014

An Open Letter To Motorists. Traffic Laws: If I, A Cyclist, Can Follow Them, So Can You.

Photo courtesy Nutsbike

When I ride my bicycle, I follow all of the applicable rules of the road, per the State Vehicle Code.  Really, I do.  And, since I am doing my part to be a sane user of our shared roads, I felt it was time to put forth some thoughts on why I have come to fear for my life while astride my bicycle.  

In short, if a motorist makes a mistake, they call their insurance agent.  If a cyclist makes a mistake, they die.  An 18-pound bike versus a 6000-pound vehicle will not end well for the cyclist.  Yet, time and again, there are news stories of motorist-on-cyclist violence, or worse yet, a fatal hit-and-run.  This wanton, vehicular behavior needs to stop.  And, additionally, cyclists also need to be responsible citizens and not place themselves in harm’s way, whether they have the right-of-way, or not.  It’s just common sense, people.

Cycling has more than just exercise for me.  It is my personal time.  It is my spiritual time.  And, it has become, for better or worse, learning time.  See, things have changed.  It is not just about my personal-time, anymore.  It has also become a time to take in the given scene before my eyes and view Human Nature in the raw.  And, trust me, Humanity does not disappoint.  Thus, my bicycle has also become a rolling Behavioral Laboratory.  After having my life flash before my eyes for the 10,000th time by a law-breaking motorist, I began to seriously observe the passing scene and started to ask myself some serious questions.  This, in turn, led me to the following observations about you, our motorized friends of the road.  

  • I don’t hog the lane and force others to swerve to avoid me.  Neither should you.
  • I announce my intentions via hand signals and lane positioning.  So should you.
  • Regarding the former, you have turn signals.  USE THEM!
  • I stop at stop signs, behind the limit line.  So should you.
  • I understand how a traffic light works and what the three colors mean.  So should you.
  • I don’t talk on my phone or text while I am on the road.  Neither should you.
  • I understand what traffic signs and pavement markings mean.  So should you.
  • I am aware of, and courteous to, others with whom I share the road.  So should you.
  • I understand I am not the only human on the road at any given time.  So should you.
  • I am always at the ready to offer assistance to anyone in need on the road.  So should you.
  • I am fully capable of operating, and understand the vehicle I am utilizing.  So should you.
  • I understand there are serious, severe consequences if I misbehave on the road.  So should you.
  • And finally, a question for Law Enforcement: If you are not going to monitor vehicular behavior and enforce the traffic laws, WHO WILL???

In summation, Motorists, you have roofs to keep you dry, heaters to keep you warm, air conditioner’s to keep you cool, radios to keep you entertained, full seats to cradle your lazy butts, cup holders to hold your Starbuck’s Latte, and the best part: An accelerator pedal to get you going again after a stop (for those whom actually, regularly stop).  The latter is also useful if you happen to have to yield to a cyclist (oh, the horror!).  With said accelerator pedal, you can easily get back up to speed again, thus regaining those lost seconds of your self-absorbed existence.  So, the reality is you really have not lost anything by sharing the road with others.   

Yes, it is that simple. The Vehicle Code is the law.  It is not a collection of suggestions.  I do my part.  YOU DO YOURS! 

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