I ride a bicycle. A lot. I commute to work by bicycle more than 50% of the time. Last year I rode more than 3000 miles. I started riding again 2 years ago, and with all my safety gear and safety mindset, I’ve been incident free.
I believe that no driver out there wants to kill a bicyclist, and I also believe that the reflective gear I wear helps drivers to be aware. Generally that means that on the road, drivers give me plenty of room.
But still, Utah drivers: you can be better! I know … I know. Bicycles are rare here. I know. We love our SUVs here, and will be driving them until the last drop of oil has been drilled. But wake up! You can do better at sharing the road.
Recently, I spent a weekend in Portland Oregon. Portland is bicycle nuts! Bicyclists are everywhere! And drivers have adapted to sharing the road. It’s obvious. While there, I didn’t do any bicycling, but I did observe lots of friendly driving. I was amazed when walking back to Erin’s (my daughter’s) apartment after breakfast. We were walking north on a sidewalk approaching an entrance to a shopping area. We were yards away from the intersection, and yet, as we approached, a driver approaching the entrance and ready to turn into the lot WAITED for us to see if we were going to cross her turn path! Amazing. The last time this happened in Utah was probably some time around 1924.
In contrast here, I was coming home from work on my bicycle one evening, and crossed the northbound I-15 off ramp at highway 193 with the walk light. Not a big deal of course, except for the possibility of drivers taking a free right without checking the crosswalk to their right. So as usual, I held back … getting either driver eye contact, or seeing that traffic would prevent a free right. No problem. Then 2 miles down the road while waiting for another light the driver of a UTA (Utah Transit Authority) para-transit bus opened up her door and said, “Was that you crossing the road back at 193? I just think you should know … you scared me to death back there! I was ready to turn, and there you were right in front of me!” OK. Well that was well intentioned, I guess I was being told that I should be normal, and drive a car. But here’s the situation. Yup there I was with a reflective orange vest, a reflective neon green helmet, a 20 watt halogen headlight, in a crosswalk with a walk light, and a professional driver wasn’t looking right to check the crosswalk while turning right! Wake up!
Reflecting on this later, I realized that though the comment had scared me, I was indeed safe riding by my rules. I had assured that on coming traffic would prevent her from turning into me … and as it turned out I was just clearing her path as an opening cleared for her. No problem. But Utah, wake up. Pedestrians and bicyclists do exist.