It’s Time To Talk About Bicycles
One reader's take on sharing the road safely.
The other day driving to town I missed a child on a bicycle by this much. (Picture my thumb and forefinger spread about an inch apart.) Even though I was going very slow and it was in the middle of the block where I had no expectation of a bike darting out in front of me, if I hadn’t been able to stop I, and this child’s family, would have had to live with that the rest of our lives. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-bike. I even ride one occasionally myself. I do feel, however, that sharing the road means sharing the responsibility of safety. I would like to assume that motorists are already obeying the laws of the road, so this is for the bikers.
Eight Simple Rules for Riding Your Bicycle on M.V.
1. Please wear a helmet, no matter how old you are. Be a good example for others. Besides, who will raise your children, love your husband/wife or help your elderly parents if you are sitting in a chair somewhere with a permanent brain injury? Just because you’ve been called hard-headed . . .
2. By law you are required to obey all the same traffic rules as cars. You must ride with the traffic, not against it. You must stop at all stop signs, not just the little bike ones. And please follow the same four-way stop rules that you would if you were driving a car.
3. Please ride single file, on the pavement. Especially if you are towing a child. It will make it much easier for us to pass you. (If you go off the pavement onto the sand you might topple over into the road.)
4. Pay attention to signage. There are streets on this Island where bikes are prohibited. Usually because the street is narrow or the area is very congested. If you must use one of these streets, please get off your bike and walk. This includes the downtown areas of most Island towns.
5. Pedestrian crossings are for pedestrians. If you are on a bike, you are not a pedestrian. If you wish to take advantage of laws that protect pedestrians, get off your bike and walk.
6. If there is a bike path, use it. They are there to get you off the road where you will be safe.
7. Those of us in automobiles can’t read your mind. Hand signals would give us a clue.
8. Stay alert. On any given day there are hundreds of cars being driven by people who are unfamiliar with the roads here. Bike defensively.
These rules should be disseminated to anyone bringing a bike off the ferry or renting one in a shop.