Cyclist, Do Your Part - And Response (2)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ironically, I was just right below a funeral home last night and preparing to turn left heading towards a cemetery after going to fuel up when suddenly out of nowhere this cyclist appeared with no lights, wearing black or dark-colored clothing.

The street in that area has very poor lighting - parts of it no lighting a all. After almost 40 years of driving, I'm both a very cautious and defensive driver. Instinctively, I'm prepared for the most unusual and unexpected scenarios. However, I wasn't prepared for this one, and only by instinct something told me to wait before turning, although there was no obvious traffic of any kind that could be seen. One split second difference and we'd likely have collided. The person seemed oblivious to what had almost taken place. Maybe they even had earphones of some kind in their ear, I'm not sure.

My point is, I think for the most part we drivers basically do our best to"share the road", but bicyclists have to do their share too and use basic common sense. It''s a death wish and a tragedy waiting to happen to be paddling a bike on a normally busy street with poor or no lighting, in black or dark clothing, without so much as a light or some kind of reflective material on your bike after dark. One could immediately tell this wasn't a professional bicyclist we often see traveling the streets. I could tell just from the way the bike was being handled this was an occasional rider. The professional cyclists handle their bicycles in pretty much the same defensive and cautious way a person driving a car does, both day and night. Some even have lighting and flashers they use during daytime. I drive with my lights on both day and night.

Just like that sign on the back of those semi trucks warn, "If you can't see me (from their side few mirror) I can't see you." The same goes for people riding their bikes after dark on a normally busy street in dark clothing with no lighting of any kind whatsoever on their bikes. The driver can't see you. You are invisible to us until almost that last moment of impact. Please, make sure to have lighting, reflecting or other on both the front end and rear end of your bikes.  It couldn't be that expensive, and it could save your life and the rest of us a lot of grief.

Brenda Washington

* * *

 As is often the case, I am in complete agreement with Mrs. Brenda Washington.

            While no longer a bicycle rider myself, many people know my passion for cyclists in general and for their safety on the roadways of Chattanooga and its surrounding areas, and I wish only to expound upon her sage words of advice. 

            Cyclists “rights” on the roadways are well established in the Tennessee Code Annotated, but the reality is that it is an incredibly dangerous environment in which 150 to 300 pounds of cyclist and cycle are competing with 2,000+ pounds of fast moving cars, and the math alone dictates an ugly outcome for the pedalist versus the motorist.

            In far more instances than I care to recount, the cyclist winds up on the losing ends of these battles no matter what the law books may say, and each of these injuries and deaths are preventable in most cases.

            Motorists?  Watch for cycles, motorized and otherwise.

            Cyclists?  Remember, you are at the disadvantage here.  Your rights on the roadway are very well established, but they won’t do you any good if you’re not assuming the worst can happen at every turn and at every intersection.

            Take care, and be aware.

C.W. Joel

* * *

I could not agree more with Brenda Washington and C.W. Joel.  I also believe this should be extended to joggers and runners.  

This morning I was traveling to work a little after six on a road with no lights other than my headlights.  On the opposite side of the road (running in the correct direction, fortunately) was a jogger in all black.  The only reason I noticed him was his very white legs. I do not understand why someone would run in the dark, in dark clothing, on a unlighted state highway. 

Runners and joggers, please wear something reflective or at least lightly colored so you will be seen before you are injured. 

J.W. Garner
Cowan, Tn.

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