Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Is it safe?

It just hit me what we need to do to make the roads safer for cyclists. It hit me as I almost hit a cyclist while driving my kid to school in the manvan. The irony of that and what that would have done to me is not lost on me. But I digress. What we need to make the roads safer from the masses anyway. Not the asshole, aggressive driver that endangers everyone on the road. The responsible driver. Like 80% of the driving public if you will. And obviously I am being generous here. What we need to make the road safer for cyclists is for drivers to drive like cyclists. What does that mean? Does that mean texting and driving because you race a bunch of crits and you can process information faster than say a soccer mom? No. Does it mean taking another driver into the tape during rush hour or shutting down gaps cause gaps only open? No. It means driving with the understanding of what a bike can do on a road. Mainly how a rider navigates traffic and how fast it can move in certain situations.

So my personal horror story that wasn't this am. So I am tired. Shit I am always tired. I drive Syd in cause she missed the bus. I am not rushing. But Syd is talking with me about her new theater troup that she just started. She is really into it. I am not distracted but there is a white noise going on. As I get closer to school there are a ton more distractions. Kids biking, walking, moms with strollers, dog walkers, construction trucks. Blah, blah, blah the burbs. Then I see an embro rider come tearing down the hill I am about to turn onto to get to Syd's school. It is a very steep hill and on a bike or car you can easily get to 45 at the bottom if you don't brake at all.

He is on a hi-viz Igleheart or Gaulzetti. Again I am driving so I can't process it too closely. I make the turn and a part of my cyclist brain clicks on. It says " damn that must have been pretty sketchy for that embro rider" He was probably going 40. He had to deal with kids on a crosswalk, a crossing guard, cars rushing to work and to get kids to school. A lot of potential for disaster. So I make the right turn. I get stuck behind the traffic that the crossing guard has stopped. Again I am not in a rush but Syd is talking to me. I get the wave and head up the steep hill. The drivers behind me are impatient as they know I am going to take a left and stall them as they are rushing to work or whatever. Cars are coming down the hill at me at about 40. Gaps are tight. Its busy cause its rush hour. So you have to time it. A good gap is there. I am about to turn left. And an alarm goes off in my head and I think about that embro rider. Low and behold there is a commuter tucked in right next to the van coming towards me. I didn't see him at first because he was slightly behind the vehicle. I didn't turn. He would have been screwed if I turned. The car next to him could have slowed easily. Could the biker have? Who knows. I am glad we didn't have to see how good his brakes and reactions were.

But it made me pause. If all drivers rode bikes imagine the difference it would make. All those dumb ass right hooks and bullshit accidents that happen every day in every city of the USofA would disappear or at least would be reduced dramatically. Motorcyclists have made lobbying efforts to try and educate the driving public to "look twice, save a life" makes a ton of sense to me. Who knows maybe the RoW crew can pitch it when they get to DC...

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