By Jen | June 10, 2008
About two months ago, I decided I wanted to start riding a bike to get in shape. So I bought a pretty decent, inexpensive, basic mountain bike. Eventually when I am more confident and more knowledgeable about the actual mechanics of the bike I’ll take it on some of the trails around town. Right now, though, I’m content tooling around town and I’ve already begun seeing some of the physical benefits of my labor.
I have only one problem: People in Memphis are just poor drivers. This city has a reputation for rampant inability to operate motor vehicles, but it’s more obvious than ever when you’re the only one on the road not protected by a 2-ton metal cage.
I’ve been cursed at, honked at, had cars come so close to me that I can reach out and grab their side mirrors. And I ride on less-than-busy roads in residential areas (Colonial/Yorkshire, mainly) at dusk or later when there aren’t many cars on the road.
It isn’t as though I’m invisible, either. I have an LED headlight and tail light that are both extremely bright and always set to blink. My bike, my helmet and my shoes all have reflectors of some sort on them. I make sure I wear colors that stand out. In short, I follow all the rules.
So, to the motorists of Memphis and beyond, I beg you: Please, please please be considerate of everyone on the road. With gas prices as high as they are and climbing, the number of bicyclists on the road is only going to increase. Memphis does not have designated bike lanes, so we all have to share the road. So, I leave you with some tips I grabbed from The League of American Bicyclists:
SHARING THE ROAD: MOTORISTS
- Reduce speed when encountering cyclists
- Don’t tailgate, especially in bad weather
- Recognize hazards cyclists may face and give them space
Yield to Cyclists:
- Bicycles are considered vehicles
- Cyclists should be given the appropriate right of way
- Allow extra time for cyclists to traverse intersections
- Scan for cyclists in traffic and at intersections
- Do not blast your horn in close proximity to cyclists
- Look for cyclists when opening doors
Pass with Care:
- When passing, leave four feet between you and a cyclist
- Wait for safe road and traffic conditions before you pass
- Check over your shoulder before moving back
- My addition: if possible, please CHANGE LANES. As I mentioned earlier, if you are close enough to me that I can reach into your window and change your radio station, that is way too close.
Watch for Children:
- Children on bicycles are often unpredictable
- Expect the unexpected and slow down
- Don’t expect children to know traffic laws
- Because of their size children can be harder to see