Gatepost Grievances: Bikers, give drivers back our roads

By: Donald Halsing and Ashley Wall

Don’t misread our message – we appreciate a lovely bike ride.

“Normal people” ride their bicycles on bike trails or along quiet side streets. But some people cycle on busy main roads.

“Sharing the road” is dangerous for cyclists and motorists.

Current Massachusetts bike laws state that bicyclists “shall be subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth.”

However, if you were to compare a bicycle to a car in regards to their overall safety, it is clear they should not be treated equally in the eyes of the government.

Structurally, the average 3-ton car is not equal to the average 20-pound bicycle. In a car vs. bicycle crash, the bike will be flattened like a pancake.

Not only are bicycles unprotected in a collision, their operators perform daredevil maneuvers which deserve to be in the circus.

Motor vehicles are subject to strict regulations, while bicycles seem to wander like lost ants in between traffic. How is that “equal”?

Bicycles cut off motorists, especially when making left turns. Conversely, cars cannot swerve to avoid these pesky pedaling people.

If motorists were to deviate in order to avoid a collision, then the risk of smashing into an oncoming vehicle is also generated. Common drivers do not possess the reaction time to avoid lane-cutting cyclists.

The worst impact of cyclists on the main roads is that they slow down traffic when motorists cannot pass. This creates miles of traffic jams.

“What about adding more bicycle lanes?” you might ask. There are bike lanes in lots of cities, but they are far too small to maintain safe separation on the roads.

In many cities, it is illegal to ride bicycles on the sidewalk. However, with so few lanes made specifically for bikes, it is difficult to find real estate for cyclists.

Cycling is dangerous.

Consider this real example of what not to do if you want to live as a bicyclist:

On Sunday, we were driving back to school along Rt. 135, about 12 hours before the Boston Marathon would claim that asphalt, between Framingham and Hopkinton. A considerable number of cyclists were riding along this road: at 8:30 p.m.!

First of all, the only section of that road with bicycle lanes was in Framingham. The thoroughfare between Ashland and Hopkinton was not wide enough for two lanes of road and bicycles on either side.

The road has many hills and curves, making it difficult to see cyclists and to pass them safely.

More importantly, it was nighttime. Spotting the bicycles, as a motorist, was especially challenging in the dark. Their little headlights and pulsing red tail lights did not help determine where the bikes were.

We suggest several improvements to current bicycle practices:

Modify current laws in place to guarantee the safety of both cyclists and motorists. Altered laws should require generous bike lanes on every road.

If you choose to be one of the senseless night riders, be sure to wear reflective gear and lights so motorists can actually see you coming on the roads.

Ultimately, if you see oncoming bicyclists, make the bright decision to move out of their way while also being watchful of the approaching traffic beside you.

So, pedal-power enthusiasts, listen up and give drivers our roads back.

[Editor’s note: Gatepost Grievances is a bi-weekly column. The opinions of the authors do not reflect the opinions of the entire Gatepost staff.]

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