Smith Says

Smith Says: Note bike riders, share the road wisely

Dear Four Bicyclists:

First of all, props to you for moving your body as it was made to move. You get it, and bravo.

Now to share this: Yesterday one of your (or should I say “our,” since Widdle pedals) tribe opted to ride in heavy right lane traffic on one of Summerville’s busiest streets.

I’ll be the first to say you looked cool in your Lycra/Spandex/Spidey suit and color-coordinated helmet, hunched over like you were in the home stretch of the Tour de France.

But… you had me sweating bullets, bro. Did you even notice car drivers’ frantic attempts to not run you over?

I was directly behind you with heavy traffic in the left lane, so passing wasn’t an option.

I crept along at 20 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone and prayed that 1) You didn’t run over a stick and fall in front of me, and 2) The 18-wheeler coming in hot behind me could hit his brakes before smashing into my SUV, which would have made me smash into you and that lightweight racing bike.

Here’s what’s really funny, by which I mean not funny at all: There was a broad, smooth sidewalk about 18 inches to your right. It would have taken you from Dorchester to Bacon’s Bridge Road safely and quickly. Why you opted to take your chances in traffic, we’ll never know.

I made it to my destination in one piece and I hope you did, too. But the fun wasn’t done.

I parked at my gym and set out for the Sawmill Branch Trail. My running days have devolved into brisk walking days, and that’s fine. After running 25 miles a week for many years, plantar fasciitis jumped on me. It took steroid shots, switching to Hokas and daily stretching to heal, and now brisk walking suits me fine. But I digress.

From long habit, I walk the right side of the paved path. It’s a universal courtesy that lets faster traffic behind me pass on the left.

In return, when a runner or cyclist does make that pass, s/he is supposed to call “Left,” to give their slower brethren notice to keep right.

Not 20 minutes after Mr. Swift on Bacon’s Bridge terrified a host of drivers, three cyclists riding abreast passed me from behind without a word, with a clearance of about six inches. I felt their draft on my bare arm. I was startled but not surprised, because it happens almost every time I’m on the trail.

(Since I don’t wear earbuds and do wear hearing aids, there is zero chance anyone says “Left!” without me hearing it.)

People. Fellow bike riders. Come on. Let’s get from point A to point B safely. The key word here is “safely.” Follow the rules of the road and live. It’s a better long-range plan than going for a ride and ending up dead.

To be clear: The law says cyclists have the same rights as drivers, which is as it should be. Cyclists benefit the environment, get a health boost and build social ties in ways that car drivers don’t.

All those benefits go out the window when you’re dead or sitting in a courtroom because you crashed into a pedestrian.

You do not own the street or the bike/walk trails. Let’s look out for each other. Be safe. Be courteous. We’re all in this together.

P.S. In case reader response includes torches and pitchforks, please be careful. We all know Spandex is flammable.

Julie R. Smith, who thinks a beach bike is fancy, can be reached at widdleswife@aol.com.

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