24 January 2011
A Cyclist's Grumple: #3 Owning the Road
This morning, I got clipped at very slow speed by a passing motorist's side mirror. It didn't hurt, but it scared the bejesus out me. When I'm on the bike, though, fear quickly turns to anger. Here are a couple pointers for drivers who would rather not clip cyclists. First, if you are close enough to me that I can reach out my hand and knock on your passenger side window, you are far too close. Give cyclists at least a full meter (or yard) of clearance. Second, if you are not aware enough to notice that I am banging on your window to make my presence known, you should not be driving a car to begin with. And, so, here is the reciprocity for cyclists: always stay as far to the right on the road as is safe. This doesn't mean riding in gravel or on the rumble strip, but if you're needlessly in the middle of the lane, expect drivers to be angry with you. This also means that cyclists need to command respect on the road by being courteous, visible, and by establishing a dominant presence. Riding meekly will get you treated unsafely. Own your part of the road confidently! You have every right to be there.