Share The Road

Share the road! That means all of you, motorists, pedestrians, and… –gosh!!!– cyclists included.

…statistics tell us that one is more likely to die from heart disease, aviation accidents, or other non-cycling risks than by cycling.

One of the greatest obstacles standing in the way of increased cycling adoption is road security.  Most people are afraid to cycle on roads.  After all, who can blame them? A two-ton-plus mass of steel hitting us doesn’t seem like a great way to go. In spite of these fears, statistics tell us that one is more likely to die from heart disease, aviation accidents, or other non-cycling risks than by cycling.  (I’ll let you search the numbers; they’re all over the web.)  For the general non-cycling population, however, that minute percentage probability ranks way up there with being devoured alive by the green swamp monster. Not good.

An Ingenious Idea

Cycling advocates then came up with an ingenious idea: raising cycling awareness can make roads safer. The safer the roads (or the perception thereof), the more people will ride bicycles.  This leads to many other potential benefits, like reduced carbon emissions, increased health, promoting cycle-tourism, etc. Pack animals that we are we like the idea of safety in numbers. This is one of the big reasons people who don’t cycle regularly –or at all– are more likely to participate in charity rides than riding alone or in small groups.

I Was Here First

It’s true: chickens have been crossing roads for a very long time.

While motorists believe that roads were built for them, it was cyclists who first lobbied for roads more than a century ago.  And long before bicycles were invented, the Romans were already traveling on roads.  It’s true: chickens have been crossing roads for a very long time. The problem of road safety is not a debate between texting-addicted motorists and cyclists (some of whom are also tax-paying car owners AND texting addicted…); it involves all. Share The Road campaigns all over the world run by proactive and caring individuals are very honorable efforts.

It’s You Against the Machine, and You Won’t Win

One day while driving downtown I got caught at a traffic light.  It probably kept me from arriving at my destination by just a couple of minutes… Good law-abiding citizen than I am, I did stop, and waited patiently for the light to turn green.  Meanwhile, along came this pair of “roadies” and crossed the intersection, never mind that it was a fairly busy one, only slowing down slightly and looking around quickly to avoid getting hit. 

It’s always better to ride defensively.  Never assume that motorists see us or that they are going to respect our right of way despite seeing us.

On another occasion I was part of a group ride and we came up to a stop light.  One of our riders started verbally abusing a young motorist for something the driver had done a moment earlier.

As focused as some of us cyclists are with our training and riding, sometimes we lose focus.  An encounter with a road vehicle is not a fight we are going to win regardless of who is right.  It’s always better to ride defensively.  Never assume that motorists see us or that they are going to respect our right of way despite seeing us.

There is a sad side to this story: when cyclists do not respect the rules of the road themselves or don’t live up to the spirit of share-the-road efforts they sabotage the fight being conducted on their behalf. One bad example is enough for most motorists to not want to share the road with anyone at all! Let our behavior on roads (and MUPs!) speak not only for us, but for all of those that we’d like to discover cycling.

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