Life in the Bike Lane
In most cases, a group of riders on the narrowest, curviest road will delay a driver only a few seconds. Drivers: Please exercise some patience and pass cyclists safely.
I had originally written the above paragraph as the closing to this column. But, assuming most non-cyclist car drivers will not make it all the way through the next 550 words, I’ve led with it.
Gladding Rd. runs from Riosa Rd. in the north to the Lincoln/Sheridan Highway in the south, and is perfectly straight most of the way.
I’m don’t know what the speed limit is, but drivers don’t obey it.
We were out there last week, five of us, heading south, just before Manzanita Rd. Two riders were at least 100 yards ahead of the other three. The three were single file and closely bunched.
A car approached from the rear, slowed for a few seconds, waiting for the car coming from the other direction to pass – we assumed.
Unexpectedly, the car behind pulled out to pass us, just as the approaching car came parallel to us.
Amazingly, nobody crashed. Nobody ran off the road. The riders (including me) said “Whoa!” or something like that.
The next day, I returned to the scene in a pouring rain (it was drizzling) because I am completely dedicated to my five loyal readers (I had nothing better to do) to take some measurements.
The bike-rideable pavement is 20 feet wide. There is no paved shoulder or white fog line. There is, however, a bright yellow solid double line down the middle.
Together, a Ford Explorer and a Toyota Camry equal about 14 feet across, mirror to mirror. (Did I mention we have it all on video?) Bike handlebars are 1 1/2 feet wide. That’s 15 ½ feet of mass in a 20 foot space, which means when the cars passed, there was 2 ½ feet between the cars and 2 ½ feet between the car and riders, assuming the driver split the difference evenly.
The 3-foot buffer law somehow was forgotten.
If the driver coming from behind had waited 2 seconds, 2 seconds! there would have been no danger and he would have gotten a friendly wave from us. I did not get the impression the driver was intentionally trying to scare us, but he did.
The three of us were all wearing hi-vis clothing and each had a bright blinking red light in back and an even brighter blinking white light in front.
Bike riders don’t really mind if drivers cross a double yellow line (safely) to give us a bit of room. I’ve seen law enforcement do it. We really appreciate the patient driver who will wait for a safe place to pass. As a rider, I hate delaying drivers on the road. We are taught to continue to ride predictably and like cars, must pull over if 5 vehicles pile up behind us. My group will look for a wide spot to pull over, but it is hard to coordinate riders moving 12 – 15 mph to move safely to a narrow driveway.
I get it. Sometimes when we are driving, we are in a hurry. I also realize bike riders can get in the way, even when both drivers and cyclists are doing everything right. And sure, some riders can be jerks. But bike riders want to feel safe and drivers don’t want to cause a crash.
In most cases, a group of riders on the narrowest, curviest road will slow a driver only a few seconds. Drivers: Please exercise some patience and pass us safely.