A couple of weeks ago there was a story making the rounds in state media outlets about a guy who was filmed following bicyclists with his car, tailgating, honking his horn, shouting and making obscene gestures at them.
The 75-year-old Erie man was driving a Ford Explorer and should probably picked on someone his own size. One wonders if he would have acted that way if his forward movement was being impeded by an Army convoy or a big piece of road-hog farm equipment. After an investigation by Colorado State Patrol, he was cited on two charges of harassment, impeding the flow of traffic/minimum speed regulation and improper use of a horn or warning device.
This incident is a really good example of someone unwilling to share the road. He was not only rude and crude; he was also illegal. Bicyclists have the same rights to use Colorado roads as drivers of motorized vehicles. With those rights come responsibilities on both sides. All drivers, no matter how big or how many wheels their vehicles have, must obey the speed limits and traffic control devices. They must signal turns and stops and obey a myriad of other rules and regulations of the road.
Cyclists must also ride on the far right side of the road. They can ride two abreast as long as doing so doesn't impede traffic. Car and truck drivers must pass cyclists safely. They do not have the right to throw things at cyclists, spit at them, flip them off, pull a gun on them, something that happened a couple of years ago in Colorado Springs, or in any other way act like the “jerk behind the wheel.”
Sure it's frustrating to follow cyclists or anyone else going slower than the flow of traffic even when they are obeying the law and especially in areas where passing them wouldn't be a good idea. It's even more frustrating when we encounter cyclists who aren't obeying the rules of the road. However, remember that your car or truck is bigger and heavier than the bicycle and in a car-versus-bike accident, there is no doubt about it, the car is going to win. Is winning really worth possibly severely injuring or even killing a cyclist?
If you're a driver, the same “Look Twice, Save a Life” motto used in motorcycle-safety campaigns applies to cyclists as well. It's your job to know what's going on around you. Don't expect cyclists to ride over debris on the side of the road. Their safety is almost as much your responsibility as it is theirs.
If you're a cyclist, don't cut in front of vehicles, blow through stop signs and red lights, ride erratically or weave through traffic. Signal all turns, always wear a helmet and ride defensively.
Above all don't be stupid. It's stupid for drivers to bully cyclists but it's just as stupid, if not more so considering the differences in size, for cyclists to go out of their way to irritate drivers. Just remember what you learned in kindergarten, sharing is good.