I lived without a car for years. I biked to work. I biked to parties. I biked to the grocery store. I biked everywhere. After almost getting door-ed (when the person in the driver’s seat of a parked car opens his/her door just as a biker is coming to pass) repeatedly I became a very defensive biker.
The best way to protect myself was to be super aware of my surrounding as I rode the busy city streets. I used my voice a lot, even screamed so drivers would notice me. I took bike routes whenever possible and avoided traffic heavy streets whenever possible, which I found relatively easy to do. I thought the public service announcements that read “Start Seeing Bicycles” were great and I still love them. Drivers need to deal with the fact that cyclist are around and share the road, use their turn signals, hang up their phones, pay attention to the road and look for bikers before opening their car doors. I definitely got a little hot under the helmet when cars didn’t give me the right of way at four way stops…hello driver you will get to wherever you are going faster than I will reach my destination since I am just pedaling and you are merely pressing the gas pedal.
Now, I own a car but live in a bike friendly town, with lot of “Bicycle Boulevards.” Streets full of pretty purple signs guide cyclists through the town on different routes. These signs are cheerful reminders for drivers to share the road. The streets are painted with an image of a biker (wearing a helmet of course) just to remind those in cars to share the road. These dedicated streets are plentiful. Yet, I still see cyclists on streets with heavy traffic, biking at night, in dark clothes with no light, on a street without a bike lane, when a street with a bike lane, a more quiet street is one block away. I want to yell at them SAFETY is one block away!!! Wear a helmet? Where’s your light?
My driver self knows I need to share the road, and stay calm and keep my crazy mother voice to myself. But the cyclist in me wants these bikers to share the road too, to bike defensively, to use the roads dedicated for biking. I think cars and bikes can get along. We all just need to stay aware of one another. We all need to share the road.