Only the fact that I have excellent brakes on my 12 year Dodge pickup kept me from wiping out a bicyclist who ran a stop sign, Tuesday afternoon. As I screeched to a halt, he turned, looked at me, flipped me off and continued on his way.
I would like to say this is an isolated incident, but it is not. Quite often, I observe bicyclists approach a stop sign or red light, slow slightly, crane their neck to see if traffic is approaching and then continue through the traffic control device.
I have numerous cyclist friends and I recently questioned some of them about this practice. The two most common responses were, “Aw, that’s an isolated incident”, or “It takes too much time to build up your speed after you stop.” Ignoring the problem or adopting an irresponsible attitude about it will eventually lead to a death or serious injury of a cyclist or a motorist trying to avoid hitting a cyclist.
The state of Georgia has many laws regarding bicycling. Recently, a law was enacted, which was written to protect cyclists from careless motorists. The law, as it is publicized, requires a motorist to maintain a minimum three foot clearance when overtaking and passing a bicyclist. However, the law, as it was written, uses the exact wording “when feasible”. That portion of the law is not being publicized as it should be.
There are numerous roadways in Cobb County where that would not be feasible most of the time. A good example is Lower Roswell Road, between Johnson Ferry Road and the Chattahoochee, where there is only one lane each way and the lanes are not overly wide. Additionally, due to the terrain, most of the road has no shoulders. There is a current upgrading project in operation. However, it will be some time before it is completed, and, in the meantime, it is magnifying the problem.
Another factor is cyclists who fail to obey the law requiring them to ride as far to the right as possible. It is not unusual to encounter cyclists riding 2 and 3 abreast, in the traffic lanes, rendering it impossible to safely pass them, even in moderate traffic.
It is true that Cobb County has been remiss in keeping pace with the increasing number of bicyclists, by keeping our roadways safe, both for them and motorists. But, “Honest Injun”, we are making an effort to catch up. If that is to be done without a death or serious injury, it will require everybody’s obedience to the traffic laws.
To the cyclists, I say this. You finally have laws which should make cycling a safe activity. Please cooperate by doing your part. No motorist wants to make it unsafe for you. Please don’t make it unsafe for them.