A Message to Motorists #7

Dear Motorist,

Now that winter is here, please make the effort to completely scrape the snow and ice off your windows. See, even though clearing a small hole makes it possible for you to stay centered on the road, it may not be enough to see cyclists riding on the shoulder. And those large chucks of ice and frozen snow that fly off your car may hit cyclists and cause serious injury. I know it takes a little extra time, but taking a few minutes may save a life or two, including your own.

Thanks from all of us bike riders, some of whom may be your friends, neighbors, or loved ones.

Idea submitted by Mike in snowy and cold Vermont

A Message to Motorists #6

Dear Motorist,

I’m sure you’ve heard of it – it’s called the doppler effect. And you’ve undoubtedly experienced it when an emergency vehicle passed by with its siren blaring and the pitch and timbre of the sound changed as the vehicle approached and then receded away.

When you yell at cyclists from your automobile, the same thing happens; your voice is distorted as you pass by. The effect would actually be quite humorous if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s dangerous and distracting to startle a fellow road user for no good reason. It’s one thing to startle someone due to an accidental slip-up or lapse in concentration, but it’s something altogether different to startle someone for entertainment or to impress your friends. Doing so is rude, dangerous, and possibly even illegal if it leads to an accident.

Next time, please think twice before yelling something out of your car window at a cyclist — it makes you look silly and immature, and the cyclist has no idea what you’re saying anyway.

Thanks from all of us bike riders, some of whom may be your friends, neighbors, or loved ones.

A Message to Motorists #5

Dear Motorist,

Did you know that something as simple as opening your car door can cause serious bodily injury to a cyclist? Let me explain.

In many places, slow moving vehicles are required to travel near the right side of the road to allow faster moving vehicles to pass. Naturally, cyclists ride near the shoulder since they are nearly always traveling slower than automobiles. Here’s where your car door comes in. See, if you’re parallel parked and open your door to exit the vehicle, you may be opening your door into the path of an overtaking cyclist. As you can imagine, a cyclist traveling at 10-20 mph who collides with a stationary car door is likely to get seriously injured, as well as do serious damage to the car.

Here’s a simple thing you can do. Before you exit your vehicle, take a moment to check your side view mirror to be sure there are no cyclists coming up from behind. Doing so may prevent someone from getting hurt, and save you a trip to the body shop.

Thanks from all of us bike riders, some of whom may be your friends, neighbors, or loved ones.

Note: Most experienced cyclists know to move out into the traffic lane away from parked cars to avoid getting “doored”, but inexperienced riders—particularly children—may not be aware of the potential danger.

A Message to Motorists #4

Dear Motorist,

You’ve probably heard of the right hook; you know, it’s the punch in boxing that is performed by turning the core and back, thereby swinging the arm in a horizontal arc into the opponent. The hook is a powerful punch with knockout power. You might be surprised to know there’s also a right hook on the road, but this one packs a different kind of punch. The right hook on the road often ends in tragedy, with a mangled bike and rider wedged underneath the bumper of an automobile. Here’s how it works.

You’re driving along at the speed limit, maintaining a steady pace, and as you approach an upcoming corner where you plan to turn right, you notice a cyclist on the right-hand shoulder of the road. Being that you’re in an automobile and the cyclist is on a bicycle, you assume you have plenty of time to overtake the rider before you reach the corner. You accelerate pass the cyclist, and then brake hard in preparation to make your right turn. What you don’t realize is that the cyclist was traveling faster than you thought, and while you were braking, the cyclist caught back up with you and is now in your blind spot. You then proceed to make your right turn, assuming the cyclist is far behind you. If the cyclist is fortunate enough to have a clean, dry road and powerful brakes, she may be able to stop in time to avoid a collision. If she does, you continue on your way without ever knowing you almost caused an accident. But if the conditions are poor and the cyclist is unable to stop in time, you’ll have executed a perfect right hook with the resulting deadly knock out.

A safer way to handle the above scenario is simply to slow down and stay behind the cyclist until after the corner. You’ll only be delayed a few seconds and you just might save a life in the process.

Thanks from all of us bike riders, some of whom may be your friends, neighbors, or loved ones.

A Message to Motorists #3

Dear Motorist,

Passing me is fine, I’m slower than you, I understand. Passing me close is unnerving, but I choose to assume you mean no harm when you do so (though giving me a little extra space is always appreciated). But impatiently passing me in a blind corner is extremely dangerous and puts at least three lives at risk (yours, mine, and the oncoming motorist’s or cyclist’s). Please, can’t you just wait a few seconds to pass until we get around the corner? Ten seconds is not very long when we’re talking about a person’s life.

Thanks from all of us bike riders, some of whom may be your friends, neighbors, or loved ones.

Submitted by Lief from WA

A Message to Motorists #2

Dear Motorist,

When we both come to a 4-way stop sign, and you get there first, it is not an act of kindness for you to wave me through the intersection. I know that’s what you intend, but it only complicates my situation. You see, as I approach the intersection, I’ve already gone through a number of steps in preparation for stopping. And since I don’t have a gas pedal, there are a number of things I need to do to get going again. It would be much easier if we all just followed the rules of the road. If you stop first, you go first. If I stop first, I go first. No matter how well intentioned, when we bend the rules by giving up our right of way, it is confusing and potentially even dangerous.

Thanks from all of us bike riders, some of whom may be your friends, neighbors, or loved ones.

Submitted by Chris from DE

A Message to Motorists #1

“A Message to Motorists” is a new, regular feature on EcoVelo. The intent is to help motorists see things from the perspective of cyclists to improve road relations and safety. Since many cyclists are also motorists, it will also remind us to think like bike riders when we’re behind the wheel. If you have an idea for “A Message to Motorists”, please send it to me and I’ll put it in the queue.

Dear Motorist,

When you come to a stop at an intersection where the cross traffic has the right of way, you can help cyclists on the cross street by acknowledging their presence with a complete stop. Making eye contact with them is even better, and if it’s after dark, a quick flash of the headlights would be super. Please remember that if you creep forward as cyclists approach from the side, there’s no way for them to know if you see them and if they’re putting themselves in harm’s way by passing in front of you.

Thanks from all of us bike riders, some of whom may be your friends, neighbors, or loved ones.


 
© 2011 EcoVelo™