Motorists, cyclists must share road responsibly

A year ago, I moved to the CSRA and I absolutely love it. The people are great, the work culture is good and the off-road mountain biking here is world-class, honest!

This past week, an off-duty Columbia County deputy sheriff was struck by a motorist on Furys Ferry Road in McCormick County. The profession of the cyclist makes a point, as he may be more likely to understand the rules of the road. I’ve seen that section of road both in pictures and while driving my car. It is indeed shoulderless and not optimal for cycling at the accident site.

 

MANY PEOPLE have expressed that not all, or any, roads are meant for bikes. Are you 100 percent sure that this cyclist was not connecting two sections of better-suited roads? We have two very nice, but poorly maintained, paths in North Augusta. One must drive a car there to use them both on the same day, as they do not connect unless the cyclist gets on your road with his bike.

Bike lanes don’t solve problems at intersections, and some research shows they make accidents more likely. As well, bike lanes and paths are expensive and not meant for speed above 10-12 mph. You may like getting rid of those pesky Lycra freaks, but do you want to pay the bill? I didn’t think so. Shared use; driver and cyclist education; and a little bit of road re-striping are the ways to go.

Driver inattention here is staggering to me. While driving my truck, I’ve watched drivers cross into my lane numerous times while they are obviously texting or talking. Will the driver of the truck who hit the cyclist this past week have his or her cell phone records reviewed?

 

DRIVER SPEEDS vs. cyclist speeds must be taken in context. Most road cyclists travel on flat roads at about 15-25 mph. If the speed limit is 45, that reduces the approach speed to 20-30. If one cannot manage to drive a car safely at that speed, there may be a problem with the skills or acceptance of responsibility of the driver.

This also is one of the reasons it is illegal for cyclists to ride against traffic. Restricting cyclists from roads with speed limits of less than 50 mph is not unreasonable in my mind, unless it’s a designated cycling route and there are indicators of regular bike use.

It may come as a surprise that we have an obesity epidemic nationally, but the South is especially hard-hit. Some folks ride for transportation and some for the activity levels it provides. Don’t be surprised that our costs of health care here in the South are skyrocketing from diseases related to obesity and inactivity.

I spend my days caring for the medical nutritional needs of elderly people with histories of poor diet and inactivity. The outcomes are most often their choice. I ride with folks who have chosen to ride away hundreds of pounds. You may want to thank them for not being a burden to our health-care system and your tax dollars.

 

THE DRIVER attitude toward cyclists here is like none I’ve ever seen from New York to California. To me, there seemed to be almost no sympathy for the rider or attempts to understand the full situation of the accident in the online comments section of the Augusta Chronicle article about the incident.

Before you blame the cyclist, it’s helpful to understand the full picture instead of the same old tired reasons you don’t like cyclists on your roads. Is it really so hard to keep your eyes open and on the road? Can you not appreciate the benefits to the cyclist and the community that cycling affords? Is it so hard to respect a human life?

 

(The writer is a registered dietitian.)

Off-duty Columbia County deputy identified as bike accident victim

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