For many bicyclists, sharing the road with cars can feel like going into battle.
"There are stretches of some of the routes that I do that I know are going to be busier than others and I am extra alert when I’m riding on those," says Craig Larson, a ride leader with the Twin Cities Bicycling Club.
He says members of the club have run into cars. Other bikers have had items thrown at them from cars. Drivers have sworn at him for riding on the road. Cars have come too close for his comfort.
Just the other day, he was in a group of riders that had a close call with a car whose driver wasn’t paying attention.
“After it had passed the group of us, four or five of the riders kept going and then the car tried to make a right turn right in front of the rest of us,” says Larson, “as if he had forgotten we were there.”
Distracted driving and failing to yield the right of way are two top reasons cars cause a bike accident. The Minnesota State Patrol says drivers need to be aware that bikes are out on the roads, especially in the summertime.
“Take an extra look in your blind spot,” says State Patrol spokesman Lt. Eric Roeske. “Especially if you’re leaving a parallel parking spot, check for bicyclists to be passing by before you open your door or you pull out into traffic.”
Lt. Roeske says cars also need to stay three feet away from bicyclists when they pass them.
Bicyclists need to be just as alert.
On July 4th, a 13-year-old bicyclist was seriously hurt when he was hit by a car as he was crossing Highway 252 at 73rd Avenue North in Brooklyn Park. Witnesses told police the bike went through a red light.
“Bicyclists need to follow the same rules of the road as motor vehicles,” says Roeske. “That’s where we often see them cited as a factor in a crash is when they don’t stop at stop signs and don’t stop at stop lights when signaled to do so.”
Larson says it’s important for bicyclists to know the rules of the road and to use hand signals to alert drivers and other bikers where they are going.
“Bicycling is a high risk activity,” says Larson, “and you just have to really constantly think about what you are doing.”
July 13, 2012