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“Nationals October 2019

It’s A Two Way Street

| September 07, 2010, 01:26 PM | 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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  1. ultrarunnergirl says:

    We all have the responsibility to watch out for others and be considerate, no matter our mode of transportation.
    And we can’t expect drivers of cars to respect us if we don’t ride predictably.
    Ride Gently Out There!

  2. Andres says:

    As a rather new cyclist, I have had my close calls. Recently my boss was drafting behing a truck at 35mph and ate the pavement after he tried to avoid a pot hole. Rather stupid if you ask me and he learned his lesson. I try my best to obey the traffic signs and rules and always ride on the defenssive. I can only be accountable for my actions and I rather not “hope” that the other drivers, runners or cyclists are always paying attention. Great article!

  3. running with scissors says:

    Almost hit 2 cyclist this morning, I was turning left onto Evergreen from B&A, they both ran the stop sign there, which I had the right of way blew the horn at them they promptly gave me the finger. The driving of the folks in this area is deplorable. All the mommies in the morning trying to drop the kids at Severn School. And the afternoon when I have almost been run over (while in my car) because she is running late from her nail appointment or yoga class, phone jammed in one ear and not paying attention. I should avoid this area all together.

  4. Kym Klass says:

    I am a runner, and only occasional cyclist. I never take the roads for granted; I never assume a car headed toward me is going to move. And even if it does (sometimes to the extreme, which is nice), I still do my part and move up into the grass, curb, whatever it be. I think of it as mutual respect for each other. I’ve been not-so-nicely honked at by drivers during runs, and don’t let it bother me if I’ve moved out of the way. I have found that friendly waves when they do move over (and even when they don’t) make it easier for the next runner. I don’t do this so much on my bike, because of my lack of coordination — I feel if I wave, I will fall (took me forever to learn how to reach for my water bottle!). Nicely put, Ann. Thanks for looking at both sides of this issue, and for holding everyone responsible for their safety.

  5. Ann Brennan says:

    To be fair, I don’t think most cyclists realize that the cars have the right of way there and I don’t think most cars realize how hard it is to start and stop on a bike. If I were redesigning the situation cars would have to stop every time. That being said, it really is the craziest intersection ever for cyclists and cars, especially when you add in the mommies.

  6. running with scissors says:

    Well my first clue at that intersection would be the two big red signs that read STOP! I think these 2 should think about how fast they would have come off the bikes if I hadn’t stopped, and good thing for me some mommy did not come flying down B&A and hit me since I am sitting in the oncoming lane of traffic while these 2 self-centered idiots go pedaling on by, couldn’t read the sign but could give me the digital salute.

  7. burren47 says:

    I find that most bicyclists in Annapolis ignore traffic laws. Note that I said “most,” not “some.” For those who disagree, I would challenge them to stake out a traffic light for an afternoon and count the bicyclists who sail through reds. In letters to the editor and on the Capital Web site, bicyclists are unified in their fury over what they perceive as a lack of respect from motorists while conveniently ignoring their responsibilities. Although it is commendable that the author calls for accountability from her biking peers, I find it amusing that she would admit that bikers are annoyed by runners who run four abreast while on the trail, blocking faster traffic. I feel the same way when I am stuck behind two more more cyclists who ride side-by-side blocking motor traffic, not oblivious, but defiant.

  8. groupw says:

    I will concede there are likely a higher ratio of cyclists who tend to ignore traffic rules. Remember DUIs and children who don’t NEED licenses ride bikes because they aren’t allowed to drive. However “most” is very strong wording unless you as a motorist are willing to look in the mirror as well.

    I bicycle including commuting to work by bike. However my work includes driving hundreds of miles per week in cities and between towns. While I see several cyclists I would like to give stern instruction, the percentage of motorists perpetrating far worse offenses is much higher. The same people who go apoplectic about a cyclist running a stop sign then proceed to roll through the same intersection without stopping themselves. This hypocrisy is not isolated. Cyclists are simply more visible because they don’t look like everyone else.

  9. Tripster says:

    I just don’t think that cyclists should observe rules of the road designed for cars. Cars and bikes just arent the same sort of vehicles. I don’t think cyclists should ever do anything dangerous or deliberately obstructive… but I think mostly, cars are full of entitlement and road rage. They think they own the road. Iowa has better laws for cyclists. As for drivers: how many actually come to a full stop at a stop sign?

    Is it equally safe for a cyclist to stop at an intersection with a red light as a 3000lb car? No cyclist should play Frogger, but if the intersection’s clear, they should roll through.

    How many pedestrians jaywalk?

    Cars bear the most responsibility because they are by FAR the most lethal vehicles on the road.

  10. running with scissors says:

    I disagree, a vehicle on the road is a vehicle on the road, why should I bear more responsibilty?The same rules apply. I am an excellent driver have professional training in it. Why should my life be put in harms way so two jacka## can do whatever they please. And like I said this applies to the mommies in the morning that are driving like maniacs because Jr is late. The police should sit by schools in the morniing and witness the craziness that occurs.

  11. ultrarunnergirl says:

    I have yet to hear ANY drivers get upset when no traffic is coming and a pedestrian scoots across the street against their light!
    Yes there are rude, foolish, and arrogant cyclists. But rolling through a stop sign at 2 mph is no greater offense than exceeding the speed limit. Can we drivers all really claim we NEVER do this? Or, er, maybe we do it a LOT?

    It’s all about who we perceive to be getting in our way. But remember, if that cyclist weren’t on a bike (and easy to pass in your car) they might be that slow driver you get stuck behind who is putting along just under the speed limit, and impossible to get around. Just food for thought.

  12. running with scissors says:

    The greater offense was they could have been killed, that is the point of traffic signs. And I bet you their families would have been quick to sue me. Sure I get annoyed when grandma is sitting in the left lane going 10 mph under the limit, but I wouldn’t run her over because of it. And these 2 guys weren’t going 2 miles per hour.

  13. Tripster says:

    Running, you bear more responsibility – absolutely. You have to be licensed. You must carry insurance. The law already recognizes this. The law recognizes that DWI is, essentially, almost like assault with a deadly weapon. For you to say that cars=bikes is an unwinnable argument. The law already recognizes that a driver of a motor vehicle bears way more responsibility; your lethality potential is evidenced by mandatory insurance. Hell, bikes are legitimately forbidden from highways. Why is that? Because we are “equal”? Bull.

    In practical aspect, I’ve had shit thrown at me, been buzzed by cars, when riding on the shoulder, alone. Would that be possible if I were driving in my own lane? Yes, but only in B-grade horror movies. That situation is only possible b/c there is a huge, rooted-in-physics, disparity btw a 200HP, 3000 lb vehicle, and a 15lb, <1 HP, bike.

    Even states' legal codes are beginning to recognize they are vehicles of different scales and different safety envelopes. In Iowa, stop signs for bikes are "yellow" – proceed with caution, and red lights are stop lights – stop, and proceed only if safe.

    It's much more enlightened. It works better. Just as I think it's absolutely safe for a pedestrian to cross a street against a light if there is no oncoming traffic.

  14. Fred Shubbie says:

    i NEVER have problems while riding my bike. Probably because I wear an american flag jersey, and fly a ” I love Sarah Palin” flag and donate money to the NRA.

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