Bicycling Brit
Big wheels, winter, and whiskey: bike-packing adventures in southwest New Mexico

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Share the road, share the love

A primer for automobile drivers about bicyclists

OK auto and truck drivers, it is time for a rehearsal. We have been forgetting certain things that need to be front and center in our minds. So here’s the list:

  1. Please do not linger behind an adult cyclist, especially if it means you’re going to come close to road rage because you are held up for 15 to 20 seconds from your rounds. It is better to pass, allowing for at least a yard distance from the cyclist as you go by (state law says three feet for a car, five feet for a truck). Most roads here allow for at least a yard before you have to go over the centerline.
  2. Remember, too, that if you are passing a cyclist you are allowed to cross over a solid line provided there is no oncoming traffic.
  3. When you pass a cyclist, please refrain from yelling, blowing the horn, spitting out the window on the passenger side, or making interesting gestures with your fingers. Please don’t floor your accelerator, especially if you are driving a diesel, because we know you blow that black smoke out the exhaust precisely to hit us in the face as you pass. Try not to swerve over the lane marker onto the berm after you pass, too. It looks like an aggressive move even if it is sub-conscious.
  4. Speaking of consciousness, you might try repeating to yourself, again and again, that bicyclists are allowed on the roads. Bicyclists are allowed on roads. We do not have to drive on the shoulder where all the debris is; when we do, it is to be courteous to you. According to the state law, we are allowed in the lane, so long as we remain as far right as is feasible.
  5. It is legal to ride two abreast on a road, as well.
  6. Most cyclists are as upset as you are that some cyclists insist on riding on the wrong side of the street. We can’t seem to get it through their heads that riding on the wrong side is illegal, annoying and dangerous. We don’t approve of this behavior any more than you do.
  7. Remember bike lanes are a blessing and a curse. They are a blessing because they remind motorists that there are other vehicles on the road besides cars and trucks and motorcycles. They are a curse in that they are rarely or never cleaned, so they naturally become repositories for metal, glass, cans, sand, dirt, tar, and other detritus that makes riding difficult. If we cyclists don’t ride in the bike lanes, you should know the rubble is the reason why. Bike lanes are also built to include culverts and grates and none of us like to ride on them either.
  8. We do pay road taxes! With singular exceptions, none of us live without cars and trucks. Most of us ride for pleasure, especially those who wear the funny clothes. Some of us ride to work and to stores and we look like ordinary folk only with the right-hand trouser cuff rolled up or clipped – or with special cool clothing made especially for commuting.
  9. Most cyclists try to observe the same rules as motorists. I know that’s hard to believe because I hear the complaints all the time, but we don’t take unnecessary chances. That means we stop for red lights and would be fools not to. Stop signs may be fudged a bit, especially if there are no vehicles coming on a cross street, and we’re trying to negotiate an uphill road; you have to remember that we don’t have even one horsepower. We have only one person’s stamina.

Thanks for the courtesy you do show to us. We are here to stay. Bikes have been around longer than cars and, who knows, they might be around longer than cars into the future as well.


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