Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dr. Gridlock letter on bike safety

A while back Dr. Gridlock wrote a column about bike safety, Travelers share ideas on how to drive, walk, bike safely. At the end of the column he asked for additional "thoughts on how we should behave in traffic." In response I wrote the following letter about motorists speeding and turning right on red lights and at STOP signs. The letter was published on Sunday (I didn't see the online version):
To add to your list of behavior that endangers bicyclists and pedestrians, turning right on red lights is very high on my list. When cruising through a stop sign, motorists are looking left and not looking for pedestrians or cyclists attempting to cross from the right, who likely have the right of way. I think it’s become habitual for most DC area motorists, including police.

Like most cyclists and pedestrian, I am also a motorist. Having heard criticisms about bad bicyclist behavior for many years, I am now a better motorist. However, I also am more aware of other motorist’s behavior, including noting the above infractions by motorists at nearly every intersection. Now when I drive I stop and look right before turning left and I try to go the speed LIMIT; almost no other motorists drive at or below the speed limit. When asked about it almost every motorist I’ve talked to thinks it’s OK to drive above the limit.

My nomination for the most widely abused speed limit is the 35mph limit as one approaches the main Dulles Toll Road booth in Tysons from the west. I’ve tried going 35 but am almost rear-ended when I do.
The next time you pass through an intersection with a STOP sign or traffic signal, count how many times motorists run red lights when turning right on red or fail to stop at the STOP sign. One of the best reasons to ride in the road is that cyclists become a part of traffic and motorists are more likely to see you. However, there are many times when I and other cyclists choose to ride on trails parallel to major roads.

One example is the trail on Wiehle Ave in Reston near the new Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail station. In the video below, a cyclist or pedestrian would be approaching on the trail to the right where these motorists are turning right on red without stopping, especially at around 12 seconds into the video.



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