Saturday, September 1, 2007

civil disobedience

Back in August, I was told in the comments for my post Accidents that bicyles are to be ridden on the right side of the road, with the flow of traffic. So, for the last few weeks, we've been attempting that.

Here in Minnesota it is tableland flat. You can actually see the curvature of the earth- 6 miles away. Plus it's inevitably windy which means you can't hear shit while you are out on your bike. The other thing, is that the shoulders of the road are paved and over 5 feet wide, there is a huge lane available and a farm truck could pass without even switching lanes and it wouldn't bother.

However, if I'm riding WITH traffic, it completely eliminates my sense of SIGHT as a tool for safe riding. I can't SEE the vehicles that are approaching. Nor am I able to move aside in time to avoid the air rush of the passing vehicle.

How does that make sense? How does that add to my safety? Why should I rely exclusively on the approaching driver to watch out for me and my kids? If I turn to see if their is an approaching vehicle, my bike gets pulled INTO traffic. I just don't want to be checking to see if that roar is a farm truck loaded with sugar beats or the sound of the nor'wester blowing in the autumn chill, only to find myself UNDER the load of sugar beats.

If the only justification for the rule is that a bunch of politicians decided everyone should "ride on the right", well that's just not good enough. I suppose here, someone could say, "but...but...they make little rear-view mirrors for bikes". Yeah, not good enough either.

As for me and my house, we're riding on the left.


Richard said...

Yep, you're right Fiery. I have always hated that. It made sense when cars rarely exceeded 20 miles per hour, but now?

The only two answers remaining are, ride facing traffic, or use a mirror.

Fiery said...

The problem I have with those itty bitty mirrors is the potential for massive blind spots, big enough to hide a semi in. The fact that outfitting my kids bikes with them doesn't guarantee that they will look in them or know how to correct for the blind spot, and third, cannot replace the accuracy of facing the traffic and seeing what is barreling down on you.

I'm glad to not be the only one who has an issue with the "go with the flow" rule for bicycles.

Just yesterday I was driving in city traffic and there was a bicyclist in front of me going with the flow. I couldn't go around him as he was actually in the traffic lane and I didn't even know if he knew I was there. He eventually swerved onto a sidewalk. A very awkward and potentially dangerous situation. Since the things that make him swerve or potentially crash are so small, I can't see or anticipate from behind him. I was definitely giving him lots of room.

It's just frustrating and more importantly not safe, as a driver and as a rider.