Motorists, cyclists must share road responsibly

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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.)

Comments (14) Add comment
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Riverman1
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Riverman1 01/13/13 - 02:34 am
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From the headline

From the headline I thought the letter would also offer some tips for cyclists to be more responsible.

harley_52
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harley_52 01/13/13 - 09:38 am
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The Same Snotty Attitude....

....as is usually presented in these kinds of letters.

I'm pretty sure if I called bicyclists "pesky Lycra freaks" as Mr. Crocker suggests a non-bicyclist like me would, I'd be censored in here for my insulting, rude attitude.

So, I won't.

ymnbde
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ymnbde 01/13/13 - 10:28 am
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basic diversity training

is at least being able to see the other side of the argument.
So, a little thought experiment. Say our wonderful lawmakers decided it was legal to ride bicycles on the sidewalk. But, the cyclist must give three feet of space to the pedestrian. Even if the pedestrian is a single mother pushing a stroller, and a toddler walking beside her. Does that seem "safe"? Even "safey"?
And let's say there are other bicyclists riding the other way and as you meet the mother, they meet the mother at the same time. Are you going to slow down to the mother's speed and let them safely pass?
Please. You'll hit each other and the toddler.
Cyclists are (not all, just enough to create a good, accurate stereotype) often rude and arrogant. They don't give joggers three feet on the canal or the greeneway. The ride side-by-side and make the jogger move off the path to let them pass. They pass on the right!
Cyclists, police thyself.

MTBer
591
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MTBer 01/13/13 - 10:02 am
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Many good points

But as you can already tell, it seems the majority around here just don't want to share "their" roads.

harley_52
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harley_52 01/13/13 - 11:14 am
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It Really Isn't A Question...

....of WANTING to "share their roads." It's a question of safety.

Like it, or not, the fact of the matter is that it is NOT SAFE for bicyclists and moving automobiles/trucks to share the same space. Accidents will occur. When accidents occur, serious injury (or death) is often the result for the bicyclist.

That situation doesn't change just because the bicyclists get snotty and blame the problem on vehicle drivers who are driving their vehicles on roads built for cars and trucks.

KGBeavers
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KGBeavers 01/13/13 - 11:18 am
2
6
Agree with Stanley

Stanley; thank you for writing this article. I have lived here for 14 years and have been (before kids) part of the Mountain biking community. This of course allowed me to meet the road bikers many of whom are friends of mine. Some of the road stories are crazy how drivers intentionally swerve to scare them. It is not funny or appropriate. Riding a bike is something most grow up doing and loving ---it is a fabulous form of exercise (no joint pounding) and a good means of transportation, etc. I do not understand the hostillity especially when someone is injured...makes me very sad to think of the lack of compassioin for Mark and his loved ones.

Yes, bikers should watch for runners and runners for walkers and cars for bikers ---- we should all lead by example here, there is nothing to bicker over we all need to value the health, and safety of each other regardless of recreation choice or transportation choice.

dichotomy
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dichotomy 01/13/13 - 11:25 am
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Nobody minds sharing the

Nobody minds sharing the road, well most of us anyway. Most people I see making comments are merely pointing out that no matter how much awareness you try to spread we periodicly bump off a cyclist. And the cyclist community tries to make it seem that all drivers have mounted a gunsight on their dashboard so we can pick them off with accuracy. That's not true. It's just a fact that cyclists tend to slide those black lycra pants up over their pencil thin butts and become a dark sliver in a world full of 5000 lb. chrome grills , windshields, and head/tail lights. Motorists just don't "see" you. Heck, there are lots of studies that say many drivers do not "see" oncoming motorcycles with their headlight on and their turn signals flashing just because it's not what our brains have been trained to look for. If you think you are safe with your skinny black lycra covered butts and an itty-bitty reflector strip or two on your backside, or even a reflective vest, while riding you bike at 15 mph with a 5000 lb. car coming up behind you at 40 or 50 (probably more like 60) mph then you are a braver person than me.

Most comments I see seem to be pointing out that, in their opionion, bikes and cars don't mix well on roadways.....no matter what kind of laws are passed, awareness campaigns are launched, and snotty letters are written to the media. Folks appear to be saying "yep, you have a legal right to use the roads but we don't think it's a very bright thing to do". I know I'd sure hate to pedal off 100 lbs. or so and get flattened by an SUV. I'd be really PO'd.

I think the bottom line is that as long as bikes and cars share the road there will continue to be periodic injuries and deaths. You might can reduce the numbers with public awareness campaigns and laws, although I don't think the laws help much, but it's still going to happen. And anyone who rides the roads should factor that into their health and life insurance calculations because in this area not only are there a lot of inattentive drivers, there are also a lot of uninsured drivers. .

dstewartsr
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dstewartsr 01/13/13 - 12:14 pm
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Irony

... that this particular letter should come out today. In the comic strip "Pearls Before Swine" in the hard copy edition the writer has it just about right:

Pig "Hey, Jef the cyclist... I don't understand something."
Jef "What's that?"
Pig "Cyclists are always so angry about people who drive cars irresponsibly but cyclist I see often blow right through stoplights and stop signs."
Jef "So?"
Pig "So, shouldn't traffic laws apply to everyone equally?"
Jef "I guess. If people were equal."
Pig "They're not?"
Jef I take it you haven't seen the 'Pyramid of Humanity."

(Holds up a chart with a drawing of a pyramid; the large bottom portion is labeled SCUM. The upper portion, CYCLISTS.)

Pig "I feel so scum-like for not knowing."
Jef "It's okay. My people expect very little of you."

That's pretty much it in a nutshell.

dstewartsr
20389
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dstewartsr 01/13/13 - 12:23 pm
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The cyclists who post

... in the forum by way of letters to the editor and opinions in the comments come off as petulant and demanding, seemingly unaware that automobiles strike eachother and even full-size tractor trailers, for crying out loud. Cyclists being bathed in a smug aura of 'special' will not cancel the laws of physics, regardless of how snarky they are.

jrbfromga
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jrbfromga 01/13/13 - 01:36 pm
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The roads belong
Unpublished

to everybody...that includes farm equipment (which moves slower than the bicyclist), horse-drawn wagons, and motor vehicles. Be aware, slow down when necessary, pass where safe...but don't injure/maim/kill others sharing the road.

soapy_725
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soapy_725 01/13/13 - 05:29 pm
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Saw on of those special people this morning.
Unpublished

Obeying the rules of the road. He made a left turn through a stop sign off of a two lane road and headed up another two lane highway facing traffic. Avoiding a stop. Seems some have to lock their feet to the peddles for maximum power transference and thus avoid stopping and falling down. Running red lights because there is not traffic. They all, police included use the road as if they were redrawing the lines and rules as the situation pleases them. Thus the ME generation. Bicycles are very much anti cultural expressions in America. Get a tag, pay a road use fee, follow the rules and stay alive and off of my insurance premium.

And also the much misaligned "golf carts" which seem to have trouble staying on the "golf course" and have taken the roadways. Children, babes in arms, drivers with wine glasses are making a statement. LOOK AT ME. Another ME counter culture of I'm better because I am not using fossil fuel. Well hey idiot, that electricity you are using takes more coal to produce that my gasoline refining. And it causes more pollution. Goal fired vehicles is the proper name. Father and child flying down the road on a gasoline golf cart. High center of gravity. No turn signals. No tag. On and off the road. Defining the limits of lanes by their desire to "go there". No seat belts, no helmets, no tag. If there had been a wreck, the victims will sue til hell freezes over. We've seen one mother with her baby in the nursing position driving with one hand down a county road. On their way to Publix. Eight and nine year old drivers with music blasting and smaller children hanging on the railings. Oh happy day !! How many will have to die before we "idiot proof" the world?

Bizkit
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Bizkit 01/13/13 - 06:00 pm
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The solution is simple. We

The solution is simple. We make bikes explode on impact so the rider will thrown to safety and the car will be stopped in its tracks. LOL.

allhans
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allhans 01/13/13 - 07:23 pm
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So cars are moving over to

So cars are moving over to avoid hitting a cyclist but then ..............

oldredneckman96
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oldredneckman96 01/13/13 - 07:36 pm
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Sharing
Unpublished

So let’ share. Road use taxes; bikes don’t use fuel, don’t pay road use taxes. Insurance; bikes cause wrecks and none are insured. Safety equipment; panty hose and a styrofoam helmet doesn’t cut it, were talking turn signals, brake lights, horn, head lamps at least. Road Speed; you think of a way to mix 10 mph and 55mph in one lane and you will get the Nobel Piece Prize. Share that with everyone. Share the fact that if you travel as a pedestrian on foot does, facing traffic, yielding to traffic, you will live to complain about traffic a lot longer.

Bantana
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Bantana 01/13/13 - 08:03 pm
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We really are more alike

I find myself agreeing with nearly all the comments made here on this subject, which leads me to the realization that while I disagree with nearly all of you on many other issues...there is common ground. It is indeed our own little community here. And for that I am grateful.

claytonroberts
4
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claytonroberts 01/14/13 - 01:56 am
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Caught in the middle.

I have been driving an 18 wheeler for 7yrs now. I have logged more than 700,000 miles with out any incidents. I picked up cycling as way to get exercise and to see parts of this great nation I cannot get to in my truck. One of the things I have learned as a truck driver is you have to pay 100% attention to everything around you at all times I use this rule of thumb on the bike as well. I have also learned there is no such thing as an accident. Yes I said there is no such thing as an accident, as long as 1 of the 2 involved are paying 100% attention to their surroundings. I cannot tell you how many times I have had to dodge 4 wheelers and other 18 wheelers who were not paying 100% attention to their driving. Note how many times I keep saying pay 100% attention. Augusta should and could be a great cycling community with a little give and take on both sides. Cyclist should do more to be more visible, bright greens or yellow jerseys or vest with reflective bands even to reflective tires. The bicycles themselves need more visible colors as well. In the cycling market for some odd reason there seems to be a migration to darker unassuming colors for theft prevention measures but that is what locks are for. Now to motorist it is your responsibility to be 100% aware of your surroundings as well as the cyclist, be Patient ! If you feel unsafe to pass a cyclist on a narrower stretch of road due to oncoming traffic SLOW DOWN then pass when safe you might be held up by maybe 60 seconds. Isn't that worth someone elses life ? As far as the anticycling sentiments the benefits of cycling are huge ! We live in a world where gas prices are soaring the environment is suffering from abuse. Cycling to work 2 or 3 times a week saves you money on $3.00 +gal gas helps save the environment and cuts down on our dependence on foreign oil and eventually lead to lower gas prices. This does not even get into the health benefits therefore lower health care cost. Being in a profession that mostly leads to obesity I have manage to get in better shape and lose weight due to cycling, so imagine what it could do for you! Augusta has the benefit of nothing being too far away, unfortunatley there has been very little effort to promote alternative transportation. There are communities all over this country that are taking proactive steps in build "bike highways" from the residential areas to business and shopping areas promoting cycling and walking as alternates to driving. Washington road and Wrightsboro road are good examples, there are hardly no sidewalks on Washington and the ones on Wrightsboro are in disrepair. So instead of putting in a new concrete sidewalk layout a 6ft wide asphalt cycling/pedestrian lane that can be made out of recycled tires. There also needs to be an alternate way to get from Washington to Wrightsboro rd. The canal trail is great but could use an update into downtown to the hospitals. These transitions are being put into place in other parts of the country and it is working in Ohio, Michigan and New York to name a few. Until Augusta figures out a way to work together towards a solution it is unfortunate that I am sure another life will be senslessly lost due to someones inability to pay 100% attention to their surroundings and unwillingness to be patient.

WalterBradfordCannon
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WalterBradfordCannon 01/14/13 - 05:29 pm
0
2
I think the key point to

I think the key point to understand here is how dramatically motorist attitude and behavior towards cyclists is different in the southeast USA, and especially in the CSRA, than it is in the rest of the USA. The south is renowned for its hospitality, and this applies in most situations, and we are all better for it. But if you are a cyclist on the road, you would be inclined to believe motorists in the CSRA are rude, aggressive, and intolerant of cyclists. Of course this does not apply to every motorist, but by and large motorists give less time, less space, and less thought to the well being of cyclists here than they do anywhere else in the country. And when an officer of the law is struck by a pickup truck, people enjoy pointing out how the road is constructed poorly (it is the road's fault), the cyclist is making bad choices (it is the victim's fault), or you just have to expect this sort of thing (because, well, it happens because it is easier to accept it than to release our behavior must change). For cryin out loud, an inattentive driver nearly killed a police officer. She ought to be locked up. She ought to be brought up on charges of reckless driving. She should be treated like a drunk driver and menace to society, because that is exactly what someone is when they are inattentive enough to strike a police officer while he is riding his bike.

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