I am not a fan of bike training. It’s not that I don’t like being out on my bike. In this heat, the breeze that comes from moving at a decent pace makes the exercise tolerable. When I can get a good momentum going, I feel powerful. I can log a lot more miles in a lot less time than swimming or running.
For some reason though, on the bike, I feel invisible to the cars that I’m sharing the road with. And trust me, I’m not small enough to be invisible to anyone.
Here’s the thing. When I’m out on my bike on the road, I follow the rules. I wear my helmet. I stay on the right side of the road. I obey traffic lights and stop signs. I stay off the main roads as much as possible because cars going really fast scare me. Even so, I’ve had several close calls on my bike and I know plenty of others who have had the same.
Here are three very simple rules for cars when sharing the road with a bicycle or a group of bicycles.
- You are bigger than me. And faster. If my bike hits you, your car might suffer a scratch. If your car hits me, especially at upwards of 30 mph, it’s lights out. I don’t have air bags or even a roof for that matter to protect me. And a helmet doesn’t prevent broken bones. Be aware of bikes on the road. And if you think you might be heading for road space at the same time, back off and let the bike go. You can’t be in THAT much of a rush.
- Use your blinkers! I use arm signals when I’m turning if there are cars around me, so you know where I’m going, especially if I might cross your path. If you don’t use your little finger to flick on the yellow light that tells me you are headed into a driveway or turning into an intersection that I’m crossing, I have no idea what you have planned. I can’t read your mind, and as far as I know, most other bicyclists can’t either. A blinker is such a simple tool. Put it on when you are turning and bikes are nearby. Oh wait, this is the law. Put it on whenever you are turning…. anywhere! You can’t be THAT lazy.
- Don’t stop and ask me for directions if you are lost. Especially when I’m going downhill. Especially when I’m head down and moving as fast as I can. Especially don’t stop in my path and open your car door to get my attention. This will result in one of two things: I flip over your car door or I have to move out into traffic and risk getting hit by another car. Either way, it’s not good for me and you’re not getting your question answered. In fact, I’m not going to stop and answer your questions or give you directions while I’m training anyway. I’m focused on what I am doing. Sorry. The same rules apply for runners. Leave them be so they can get their workouts in without interruption. You have no idea how hard it is to get started again when I have to come to a full stop. Catch me when I’m walking, or better yet, stop at a gas station or get a GPS. You can’t be THAT stupid.
I get that it’s easy to get distracted while you’re driving. I drive too. And I’ll talk on my cell phone or I’ll be with someone else in the car or even changing the radio station. I get how easy it is to miss a turn or not see something. I don’t know if it is because I also run and bike on the road now that I’ve become more aware of others doing the same thing. I’d like to think not and that I’ve always been aware. I do know I have always yielded the right of way to those who are out exercising in some form. It’s just the nice thing to do.
So, all of you other bicyclists and runners out there… what else can cars do or not do to make your workouts just a little less scary?