2010-05-27 / Letters to the Editor

Motorists must share the road

Last night at dinner, my husband described almost being hit on Conanicus Avenue by a couple in their Mini Cooper. Once they passed, the driver flipped Scott the finger, then took a quick right past Ken’s Barber shop.

Well, we’ve been talking about it for a while – after all of the disgruntled letters from motorists, maybe a cyclist should explain why we sometimes ride in the road.

I speak from experience. In the 1980s, I was hit by a drunk driver while riding my bike and was thrown over his hood into oncoming traffic. Later that year, I made an error with the angle in which I was crossing the T tracks in Boston, resulting in my bike tire getting caught in the T track going very fast one way, while I flew off 45 degrees the other way – grinding my face into the pavement and chipping my teeth.

Then, there was my sister, riding in a designated bike lane in Santa Monica when the driver of a parked car opened his door right into her face – his door wouldn’t close after that.

So, why do I still ride?

Because I love it!

I am very alert when riding, as most cyclists are and believe me, everything is going through my head regarding parked cars, potholes and sand on the side of the road. In Spain, one of the “rules of the road” for bikers is “take the whole lane when there is not room for both and move over as soon as you have an opportunity.”

It is an understood signal to the driver from the biker that there is danger to the right – obstacles that could pose a nasty scenario for both driver and biker, should the biker hit a pothole, skid in the sand or come face to face with a car door opening.

For example, on Conanicus Avenue down by the water, there is nowhere to ride but in the road because of the potholes and manhole covers. On the ride to Beavertail, there are no real shoulders to ride on and the sections that do have a small shoulder are hazardous as they are covered with sand and potholes.

So next time you have to slow down for a biker, try opening your window and taking a deep breath of the gorgeous sea breeze in Jamestown while you wait for a better opportunity to pass. Please understand that cyclists are very alert and not out to antagonize motorists. After all, we aren’t the ones encased in thousands of pounds of metal with air bags to protect us.

Kim Brown Ferguson

Jamestown

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