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Drivers should respect rights of cyclists

Written by Sarah Turner


Drivers should thank cyclists for saving gas and keeping the air clean, but in many cases cyclists are the targets of violent accidents.

“It seems like a lot of drivers are uninformed about cyclists on the road which causes danger,” Edward Rollins, president of Blazer Cycling Club, said.

Rollins has been cycling since 2008, but on Feb. 11 of last year he was forced to put down his beloved bicycle.

Rollins and his seven teammates were cruising at about 30 mph, when a driver in a car decided to pull out in front of them. Two of the seven were injured, including Rollins who was thrown off his bike.

In most states bicycles must abide by the same traffic laws as motor vehicles. The only exception to this is interstate highways, which are prohibited to cyclists.

Drivers are usually infuriated when they see a cyclist on the street when there is a side walk right next to them, but this anger is misplaced.

According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, it is illegal for anyone over the age of 12 to ride their bike on the sidewalk as it causes danger to pedestrians. According to the law, if a cyclist rides their bike on the sidewalk, that is just as illegal as if a driver decided to drive their car on the sidewalk. A vehicle is a vehicle.

Although sometimes cyclists are to blame in roadway accidents, it is always up to a driver to take responsibility in being cautious around someone with less protection than themselves. According to Brent A Buice, executive director of Georgia Bikes, motorists should always yield to cyclists. Buice advises motorists to give at least three feet to pass a cyclist and always make turns carefully.

Cyclists do not ride their bikes just to anger car drivers, although many angry drivers assume so.

“I’m only trying to get to where I need to go safely and efficiently,” Kate Powlison, marketing manager of People for Bikes, said. “I don’t mean to slow them down or get in their way. I’m a driver too.”

Research shows that when people ride bikes, the roads get safer for everyone, and road congestion and healthcare costs drop.

As far as congestion goes, just imagine a busy city street with cars parked along the street on both sides. Now imagine that same street where 50 percent of those cars are bikes—not as much car exhaust in the atmosphere, and a lot more breaths of fresh air.

“Even if you don’t ride a bike, you should support bicycling because it’s improving the world for you,” Powlison said.

For those people out there who hate cyclists, stop shaking your fists and start being respectful.

Drivers need to accept that there will always be bikes on the road and the bikes have just as much as a right to be there as you do.

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