Recently, I was riding to a friend’s house to do some bike part swapping. I was a riding the route I typically use to his house. I was nearly injured or killed by a driver on a cell phone because they some how thought the bike lane was also a right turn lane. I came within inches of their car because this person was text messaging. This is not the first time this has happened. I have been fortunate to have never been hit (knock on wood.)
Same type of situation the time before. I was riding in the bike lane and this guy was on his phone and was about to make a right turn and I ended up hitting his car with my hand to warn him of my presence. He pulled over and proceeded to get out and yell at me for hitting his car to which I replied I was trying to warn him of my eminent death. That shocked his system a bit and then I told him to just pay attention because it was most certainly a high traffic area for cyclists and that he could hurt or kill someone. He apologized and we both went our separate ways. Sometimes that might be all it takes. People may be blissfully unaware of your presence and you have to put fear of killing another person in their hearts so that they change their ways and bad habits.
I have had too many close calls but it doesn’t discourage me. The reality is that I just have to pay more attention as I am more vulnerable. Yes, in any given year more people die in cars than people on bikes but that also doesn’t mean we cannot reduce the number of cyclists killed. Even when I was an automobile driver, I drove very defensively as if I was on my bike. It saved me a few times, just having that awareness of my surroundings and focusing on the task at hand and not the radio or my phone. I used to turn my phone off when I drove. I didn’t need to have it on.
I pick the routes with the least amount of traffic but sometimes it is just not possible to avoid a busier stretch of road. This route is one that I typically have no trouble using. There is a bike lane that I was riding in. The most frustrating part was that it was insanely careless of the driver. I mean if the person had hit me, would he/she have driven away? That happened to a friend of mine; broke his wrist and bumped his head pretty good. I am at a loss as to what to do. Do drivers just not care? Do people just not care in general? Do we make more laws? Better enforce the ones already in place?
I mean it is pretty straight forward that fleeing the scene of an accident is against the law. But sometimes there are no witnesses. There was a story where a cyclist was hit and killed in Texas and the 2 guys tried to hide the body and got caught dumping it in a creek. How do we as cyclists protect ourselves legally and physically? Should we all by GoPro cameras and wear them all the time while cycling? Is no one honest anymore?
If I made a mistake and got hit on my bike, I would own up to it. I have made a few reckless decisions on my bike. I think we all have at one point or another. Sometimes I make decisions that appear reckless but I do it for my own safety i.e. riding on the sidewalk briefly to avoid a busy or dangerous section of road or riding against traffic briefly.