I’ve been training again this year for the Copper Triangle bicycling event which benefits the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease. As the Copper Triangle is a 78 mile ride gaining nearly 6,000 feet in elevation, I’ve been cycling a lot. And when I cycle I’m aware of things differently than when I’m in a car, protected 4,000 pounds of metal.
Primarily I’m aware of how little importance a discouraging amount of people protected by 4,000 pounds of metal place on the human life protected by only a helmet and their own awareness. In the past weeks of cycling I’ve watched drivers slow down and drive a wide berth for a squirrel, yet blast past me nearly hitting me with their side mirror. I’ve watched drivers move over a full lane when there is a deer 5 feet off the side of the road, yet not budge a foot when passing me at 45-65 miles per hour. I’ve watched drivers pull out all the stops and safety maneuvers to avoid hitting a rabbit, yet they wave their hands in frustration at me as I cycle legally on the road.
It’s disheartening to feel that drivers appear to be more aware of avoiding wildlife than human life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to pull any of those wildlife respecting maneuvers above. I also though, put more care in passing my fellow humans who are cycling. I see them as mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews. I see them as human beings who live valuable lives, and I give them a wide and safe berth, or I wait to pass safely, just as I would do for a car. I understand that the shoulder of a road isn’t a designated bike lane and is often unsafe to be cycling in so I move over and make room, or again, I slow down and wait to pass safely. I respect that cyclists count legally on the road as a moving vehicle despite their physical vulnerability.
I ask and challenge you to do the same. And, when you’re riding in a vehicle with someone who passes closely, please educate them about how that feels on the bike. How air currents can knock a cyclist over, how the shoulder of a road isn’t always a safe place to cycle and cyclists aren’t required to ride there, or how catastrophic hitting a cyclist with even your side mirror can be. Remind them that it’s a human life on the bike. Consider if the cyclist was your mother or father, or your wife or husband, or your child…
Would you pass the same?
The bottom line.
Where do you place importance?