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Today, I received an email update from Bicycling Magazine. One of the articles caught my attention so I clicked on it and headed over to their website to read the full story. While on that page, another story caught my attention, one written by an old cycling buddy of mine, Bob Mionske.
Bob and I were on the US National Team in the late 80's. Bob represented the US at the 1988 Olympics, narrowly missing a medal in the road race by literally a tire width. Bob is now a nationally known cycling lawyer with a practice exclusively focused on representing cyclists.
Bob writes a column on cycling law and advocacy for Bicycling Magazine. I don't know when this specific article first appeared but the story caught my attention. Titled "When the Cop Says Stop: Local Bike Laws and the Police", Bob discusses a run-in that two cyclists from West Virginia had with some local Ohio policemen. I won't go into detail because you can click on link above to read it for yourself. That and the laws in that story may not be the same in your state.
Regardless of who was right or wrong in that story, each of us needs to understand our state's rules of the road as it pertains to cycling. I don't know about you but the last thing I care to do is spend 10 or 15 minutes of my limited and valuable training time having a conversation with the police as to why I'm riding in the middle of the road when I can easily stay to the right unless it is unsafe or impassable or why I blew threw a red light.
Quite often, I see cyclists on the road blatantly ignoring the rules, even the most basic ones such as stop signs and red lights. For example, almost every morning while driving my son to school, there is a cyclist (the same one every day) who chooses to ride through red lights simply because he doesn't want to stop and because there is no cross traffic at that particular time. Sure, who wants to have to stop and start again, especially if it is a long light. But is it worth the risk of getting hit by a car who has the green light because we may not have seen it or the car came into sight after we turned away from looking in their direction?
I'm astounded at the risks cyclists will sometimes take to not have to stop and wait. Yes, I've been guilty of it in the past but, after the deaths of two cyclists last fall in my area due to vehicular accidents, I've been more conscious about my actions. I've been hit by a car before when I did nothing wrong. It hurts and is no fun.
And, let's not forget that while you are riding, you represent all cyclists. How many times have you heard the phrase, "damn cyclists, get off the road", whether you've done something or not. It is likely due to the driver's reaction from a prior confrontation with someone else and carried over to you.
Yes, there are times when we need to be in the middle of the lane or, in the case of Bob's article, the two cyclists had every right to occupy the lane as long as they were not impeding traffic. And it is critical to understand the circumstances that allow us to do so and not when we just decide we want to take over the road. Just because we are on a bike does not mean we are excused from following the rules of the road, even when we have every right to be in that space on the road.
We have responsibilities when we are on bikes just like when we get behind the wheel of the car. Let's be more cognizant of those responsibilities and not put our own safety or that of others at risk. Accidents happen and that is unfortunate. But we can certainly do better to reduce the risk of them happening simply by knowing the rules.
And speaking of risk, when was the last time you took a look at your insurance as it pertains to cycling? If you are like me, its been a while so I would encourage you to take a few minutes to click on the link below to read an article that I received from a cycling buddy. It explains how you can tell what type of cycling coverage you have (or don't have) in the case of a biking, bike/auto, hit and run, etc. It is short and it tells you exactly where to look on you policy to know for sure! To read the article, click HERE.
Thanks for your time. Be safe and enjoy the ride!