It’s A Two Way Street

| September 7, 2010 | 14 Comments

In the past two weeks there have been two separate incidents involving cyclists on the B&A Trail.  The first one involved a cyclist and a car where the trail crosses over Evergreen.  In this incident both the driver of the car and the rider failed to stop at the intersection and collided.  Fortunately, there were only minor injuries.

Unfortunately, the next rider was not so lucky.  In this case, 82 year old, Jim Oberholtzer was found unconscious on the trail in almost the same spot along the trail.  Mr. Oberholtzer was not hit by a car.  Instead he was in a slight collision with two other cyclists who continued down the trail after the accident while Mr. Oberholtzer fell off his bike, cracking his helmet open on the asphalt path.  Mr. Oberholtzer was transported to the hospital with a serious head injury.

As a rider, both of these incidents scare the hell out of me.  Because the B&A trail is a shared trail, cyclists are limited to speeds of 15 miles an hour.  Even so, that is 15 miles an hour with only a helmet to protect us in an accident–and a helmet is not indestructible.  As cyclists we need to be more cautious.  We can get angry at the car that buzzes past us on the road.  We can get mad at the runners who run four across on the trail.  We can blame everything that happens to us out there on someone else but we are the ones who will end up in the hospital after an accident.  We are the ones most at risk.

I have written recently about the things I want drivers to know about me as a cyclist but I am not unaware of the dangers to pedestrians, other riders and cars by inconsiderate riders.  I have watched a friend sidelined after months of marathon training because a cyclist failed to announce himself and ran into him causing my friend to have over 30 stitches in his calf.  I have watched a car skid off the road to avoid a cyclist who didn’t hear the car coming because he was listening to his iPod.  And now we know the damage one cyclist can cause to another in the example of Mr. Oberholtzer.

Cycling, like driving, is a privilege not a right.  When we are on our bikes it is our responsibility to be cautious.  It is our responsibility to avoid accidents.  Yes, I would hope that drivers would take extra care when they spot me on the road, but I can’t assume they will.  Maybe they are a new driver.  Maybe they are a distracted driver.  It is impossible to know what is going on in someone else’s car.

My son was in a car with his driving instructor recently and spent twenty minutes of the drive listening to the instructor gripe about inconsiderate cyclists.  I would like to say that the guy is just an ass but all of us know that that isn’t the case.  There are a lot of inconsiderate cyclists out there.  But there are also a lot of opportunities to make mistakes when we are on our bikes.  There have been plenty of close calls for me that boiled down to my not paying close enough attention to a situation.

It’s a two way street out there. We can ask, we can beg even, for drivers to be more considerate but we need to follow the same guidelines.  We need to take responsibility for the roads and the trails alike.  If there is a stop sign, we should stop. If there is a younger or inexperienced rider in our way on the trail we should slow down and give way.  If we cause an accident, we should stick around.  It is a two way street out there and it is meant to be shared.  If we don’t do our part, how can we possibly expect anybody else to do theirs?

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Category: LIFE IN THE AREA, Sports

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