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Published in News and Citizen 7-22-14

Bikes in the Lane

     If you haven’t heard, bicyclists enjoy some new rules in Vermont. First they were allowed to ride two abreast and now they can pretty much use the whole traffic lane. It is possible that you could come zipping around a sharp corner and find a bicyclist making a snappy 10 mph or less right in the center of the lane. Is this likely?
     Well, from attitudes of the truly common sense challenged I have overheard comments that indicate it is quite possible. You may have to test exactly how fast your brakes will pull you to a near stop. There are bicyclists out there so angry at drivers that they are determined to exercise their rights. Some bicyclists seem entitled now and almost punch drunk with the new power. It is a kind of “It’s my right. Let ‘em stop for me,” the bicyclists seem to be saying. OK.
     But is it common sense? I fear for lives about to be lost. A bicyclist clad stylishly for the sport or transportation has a plastic helmet – not as hard as a car’s plastic bumper. He or she is wearing a skin tight Spandex suit to cut air resistance – not a roll bar. A bicyclist’s chances of coming off well with a bike/car crash are not good. That’s my only point.
     Should I choose to ride a bike, I am not going to hold my ground against a fast-moving car.  Too chancy. Sure I would like motorists to let me exist on the edge of the road. Meanwhile I’d try to take only what I needed. Sure I’d ride double and enjoy it on a back road while listening for traffic coming up from behind. But would I gamble my body and safety on a new rule/law from the state – reluctantly. Cars, trucks and construction vehicles are big and heavy and would easily tear, break and dent me! It’s easier for a bicylist to hear a car coming, than for a driver to hear a bike on the road ahead. That’s a clear case of common sense.
     So, what am I saying here? Just this – Drivers beware for bikesake and for yours. Bicylists may be highly evident this summer. Bicylists be safe. Yep, you have a legal right to the road, but consider the situation and ride safely. I will be looking out for you as I hope we all will.