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Remembrance And Rules For Cyclists And Motorists

This third installment of “Cycling Wednesdays” comes as a guest post from Rachel Fagerburg. Rachel is a dear friend, mother of two young children, fellow cyclist, and wife of a teammate. She is famous in this area for her talent as a race announcer. I am grateful for her words:

On May 19, my husband and I joined thousands across the globe to honor cyclists who have been injured or killed while cycling on public roadways. With 1,000 participants at the first ride in 2003, the Ride of Silence has grown to a worldwide event raising awareness of the tragedies that can occur between motorists and cyclists. My husband and I rode in honor of two people we were privileged to call “friend.”

Bob Jordan was admired for his powerhouse strength at the races. Personally, I admired him for his expedient departure from a race at its conclusion. I recall watching his red two-door sports coupe as he left the race venue with the race bike dangling out of the trunk. He loved racing, but his actions spoke measures about how much he loved his family. He wanted to get home after the races and be with them.

Several years ago in a suburb of Indianapolis, Bob Jordan found himself in the windshield of a car being driven by a young lady. A son, husband and father was lost that day. The young lady was in route to her high school with plans to walk across the stage and clutch a diploma. Instead, she found herself at the scene of an accident where she killed a man without intention. Bob ran a stop sign. He died at the scene.  

Originally from Evansville, IN, Darryl Benefiel was a member of the racing community for years. Darryl was our buddy. He house sat for us. He helped tile our front porch. He watched our son for us. We dined with him often.  He was a good friend. Darryl left Louisville in 2007 and eventually settled in California. His visits and phone calls contained tales of the California life style that was so different from that of the Midwest. He loved living there, working there, riding there.  

On July 23, 2009 Darryl was riding down a California road when a motorist made a left hand turn into a subdivision directly in front of him. The speed at which Darryl was traveling was such that he could not avoid hitting the car. Darryl died at the scene.

The engine strength of any vehicle is more powerful than the strongest cyclist. Yet there is a necessity to beat the cyclist to the red light just meters ahead. Get ahead of, impede the progress of, ignore the cyclist. The cyclist is a nuisance to the motorist. Then there is the cyclist who loses all sensibility in the heat of an interval (or in midst of the Tuesday rivalry ride). During the intense moments of the workout, the cyclist will convince himself that training (or the weekly World Title) is more important than the rules of the road. I make no claim of innocence here. I have done the Tuesday night ride. I have experienced the adrenaline rush. I get it. It’s good stuff. At the end of the day, a bike ride on the road is still a risk regardless of intensity.

As I write for the infamous blog, I still grieve for my fallen friends. My heart hurts for their families and the motorists involved. I miss Bob. I miss Darryl. Races are not the same without them. In a perfect world, society would appreciate the laws of science and respect the laws of the road. We would co-exist in harmony. In the case of the cyclist versus the vehicle, the vehicle wins every time. More importantly, everyone involved loses. There must be more consideration on both sides of this debate.

The father of my children and love of my life is riding on the roads. Aside from the loss of a child, my greatest fear is that he is the next tragedy. The common citizen is not educated in the rules of the road, cyclists included. Being aware of one’s responsibility as a motorist and a cyclist is a first step. Adhering to those laws is the greater responsibility. In closing, I decided to post the rules of the road (as a post-script below) in accordance with the Kentucky State Drivers Manual. Be safe out there.

Thank you, Rachel.    – JMM

Rules of the Road

A cyclist must:

  • Use hand signals to communicate actions to other vehicles.
  • Obey the instructions of official traffic control signals and signs. Stop at stop signs and for stop lights just like a motor vehicle.
  • Operate a bicycle within posted speed limits or at a rate reasonable for existing conditions.
  • Ride a bicycle on the right side of the road with traffic.
  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and on sidewalks. Give an audible warning before passing pedestrians.
  • When riding at night, operate the bicycle with a white light visible from the front and a red reflector or light visible from the rear.
  • All slower-moving vehicles, including bicycles, shall drive as closely as practical to the right-hand boundary of the highway. Extreme caution should be used when moving out into the center of the road to avoid road debris, to pass another vehicle, or to make a left turn.
  • Ride on a bike path adjacent to the roadway, if one is provided.
  • Never ride more than two abreast so as to interfere with the normal movement of traffic.

A motorist must:

  • Share the road with bicycles.
  • Before passing a cyclist, look to see if there is loose debris on the pavement that might cause them to move into the center of the lane. Pass a cyclist only when it can be done safely, and allow 3 feet between your car and the cyclist. Realize the air turbulence your vehicle can create at high speeds or in windy weather. Give the cyclist extra room if your vehicle has extended outside rearview mirrors. Return to the lane only when you are safely clear of the overtaken bicyclist.
  • Look for cyclists. Because of their narrow profile you will need to develop your eye-scanning patterns to include bicyclists.
  • When you are turning right after passing a cyclist, leave ample room so you don’t cut him off when you slow for your turn.
  • When opening your car door, check behind for cyclists.
  • Remember, bicyclists are not special and privileged. They have the same rights, rules, and responsibilities as all other highway users.

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

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