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Car-less: Frustrated By Distracted Drivers

by Kohl Martin

Recently, I was riding to a friend’s house to do some bike part swapping. I was a riding the route I typically use to his house. I was nearly injured or killed by a driver on a cell phone because they some how thought the bike lane was also a right turn lane. I came within inches of their car because this person was text messaging. This is not the first time this has happened. I have been fortunate to have never been hit (knock on wood.)

car-in-bike-lane

This is a good way to people’s attention and to promote awareness of bikes on the road. I have seen some terrifying crashes. We all have to work to keep each other safe.

Same type of situation the time before. I was riding in the bike lane and this guy was on his phone and was about to make a right turn and I ended up hitting his car with my hand to warn him of my presence. He pulled over and proceeded to get out and yell at me for hitting his car to which I replied I was trying to warn him of my eminent death. That shocked his system a bit and then I told him to just pay attention because it was most certainly a high traffic area for cyclists and that he could hurt or kill someone. He apologized and we both went our separate ways. Sometimes that might be all it takes. People may be blissfully unaware of your presence and you have to put fear of killing another person in their hearts so that they change their ways and bad habits.

Bike crashed on the sidewalk

Riding can be scary. No doubt about it.

I have had too many close calls but it doesn’t discourage me. The reality is that I just have to pay more attention as I am more vulnerable. Yes, in any given year more people die in cars than people on bikes but that also doesn’t mean we cannot reduce the number of cyclists killed. Even when I was an automobile driver, I drove very defensively as if I was on my bike. It saved me a few times, just having that awareness of my surroundings and focusing on the task at hand and not the radio or my phone. I used to turn my phone off when I drove. I didn’t need to have it on.

Separated Bike Lane

Keep us separate and protected.

I pick the routes with the least amount of traffic but sometimes it is just not possible to avoid a busier stretch of road. This route is one that I typically have no trouble using. There is a bike lane that I was riding in. The most frustrating part was that it was insanely careless of the driver. I mean if the person had hit me, would he/she have driven away? That happened to a friend of mine; broke his wrist and bumped his head pretty good. I am at a loss as to what to do. Do drivers just not care? Do people just not care in general? Do we make more laws? Better enforce the ones already in place?

Commuting to Work collage

We may appear crazy and some of us might be, but we all do it for the love of the bike.

I mean it is pretty straight forward that fleeing the scene of an accident is against the law. But sometimes there are no witnesses. There was a story where a cyclist was hit and killed in Texas and the 2 guys tried to hide the body and got caught dumping it in a creek. How do we as cyclists protect ourselves legally and physically? Should we all by GoPro cameras and wear them all the time while cycling? Is no one honest anymore?

View from the handlebars of the bike

In Russia, because of mass amounts of insurance fraud, cars a required to be equipped with dash cams. Should cyclists? For our own protection? Is that overkill?

If I made a mistake and got hit on my bike, I would own up to it. I have made a few reckless decisions on my bike. I think we all have at one point or another. Sometimes I make decisions that appear reckless but I do it for my own safety i.e. riding on the sidewalk briefly to avoid a busy or dangerous section of road or riding against traffic briefly.

 
BOB Trailer x 2

4 Responses to “Car-less: Frustrated By Distracted Drivers”

  1. Josh Lipton says:

    Offspring comes to mind “Gotta keep em separated”

  2. Velodrone says:

    I worry about distracted drivers, but the ones that willfully want to kill cyclist worry me more.

  3. Graham Wilkinson says:

    Cycling could be so much safer if we were as cycle-friendly as the Dutch. I’m sure you’ve seen this blog but just in case…..

    http://bicycledutch.wordpress.com

    Keep fighting for cycling rights!

  4. Ted Johnson says:

    It’s “Car-Free,” Kohl. I’m not gonna tell you again! 🙂

    In spite of distracted drivers and all of the other liabilities of bike commuting, it’s still on average as safe or safer than transporting yourself in a car.

    The question is whether we are satisfied with bicycling when it is only as safe as that.

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