CYCLING 101 – A Refresher Course II
In my last column, I reviewed four terms related to cycling in hopes of helping all users of our roads be better informed operators of their vehicles. I covered Salmoning, Buzzed, Share the Road!, and Idaho Stop. This week I want to add two more terms to more fully broaden this edition of Cycling 101.
Doored – a term that applies when a parked motorist opens their vehicle door in the direct path of a cyclist, motorcyclist, or larger vehicle. It is ALWAYS the responsibility of the person in the parked vehicle to be certain that it is safe to open the door without interfering with the movement of traffic. If a Ford F150 catches that open door, the door gets peeled back like an onion. If a cyclist hits the open door, the cyclist tends to go over or through the door resulting in significant injury. Cyclists can avoid this type injury by riding outside the “door zone”, which is typically 4’ away from the vehicle. Doing so leads to our next term…
Taking the lane – A cyclist “takes the lane” when they move to the middle of the lane and away from the far right hand side of the road where most cyclists tend to ride out of courtesy. Taking the lane is a safety maneuver for both the cyclist and traffic behind them. Taking the lane tends to keep following motorists from trying to squeeze by the cyclist. By “taking the lane” a cyclist reduces the optical illusion that there is enough room for the motorist to safely pass. Recently, I failed at this safety maneuver. I was riding on the right hand side of the road going into a semi-blind right hand curve. I could see oncoming traffic and should have moved to the center of the lane to prevent following traffic from trying to pass me. Instead, I remained too far to the right and a school bus loaded with children passed me going into the curve. The school bus was bad enough but the bus driver at least saw me. The oncoming driver realized there was a lack of available room and came to a stop to let the bus get back into their lane. Unfortunately, the mini-pickup tailgating the school bus had no idea I or the oncoming traffic was present because they couldn’t see through the bus. They whipped back into my lane of travel “buzzing” me. Had the school bus stopped to unload children, I have no doubt the pickup would have plowed into the back of the bus. Had I taken the lane, it is less likely the bus driver would have pushed our luck by passing at that moment.
As we all SHARE THE ROAD, we should heed the words of the Watch Commander from the Old Hill Street Blues program – “Let’s be careful out there!”
For more information, visit http://gr8smokieszeke.blogspot.com and www.bicyclehaywoodnc.org . You may also link to Zeke’s Great Smoky Mountain 2 Wheeled Adventures under Opinion on the Mountaineer’s website.