On most roads, the law says you have to, but just because something is “the law” doesn’t always mean it is a good idea. The question of whether cars and bicycles should be sharing the road, and how, is a hotly debated topic. While there are plenty of drivers and bicyclists who are willing to try to work with each other, there are many who are angry, hostile, and even actively violent on both sides of the issue.
The Problem with Drivers
Cars have ruled the road for decades. So you have drivers who are not even aware that bicycles can legally use the road with no deference to motor vehicles. It’s certainly not what we were taught as children learning to ride bikes. They don’t expect bicycles to be present, and don’t think to look out for them.
Then you have drivers who know, and deeply resent it. They don’t want bicycles on the roads, getting in their way and slowing them down. They just don’t feel that bicycles have any business using the same roads as cars. And many of them take out their aggression on the bicyclists they encounter by passing too closely, yelling obscenities, and even intentionally running them off the road or running them over.
Bicyclists Behaving Badly
If bicyclists want the roads to be safe for them, they have to know follow the law, too. Many drivers who resent sharing the road with bikes feel that way as a direct result of bad behavior on the part of bicyclists.
We can start with education and make sure that part of the education drivers receive informs them of the rights of bicyclists and includes teaching new drivers to always look for bicycles. That could go a long way, but the truth is that many of our roads simply are not designed for cars and bicycles to share the road safely.
We need better alternatives than forcing everyone together and expecting them to work it out. We’ve seen the results with anger and violence only escalating – both sides trying to prove their point rather than trying to work around each other.
It is time to reconsider road design, to take the reality of the surge in bicycling into account and make the roads safer for everyone who uses them. If you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle accident, please learn how the law can help you and find the right accident attorney for your needs.