A good friend called recently to talk to me about a cycling accident he had witnessed while on a ride. He was behind another rider, approaching an intersection that had a stop sign intended for bicyclists.
According to my friend, the cyclist didn’t even slow down at the stop sign before riding into the intersection. Unfortunately, a driver who had the right-of-way was unable to avoid the cyclist and ran into him. He told me how disturbing it was to see this crash unfold and to watch the guy on the bike being taken away by ambulance after being hit.
Sadly, this type of riding behavior happens much too frequently. There’s no way to understand why the cyclist didn’t stop. It could have been from distraction, inattention, or intentionally disregarding the rules of the road. I’m sure we all have seen a cyclist blow through stop signs and traffic lights. Most of the time they avoid getting hit; yet even when they do, they cause all of us to suffer.
If you ask the average driver how they feel about cyclists, you’ll get some strong opinions, many of them negative. They’ll tell you they don’t like bike riders disregarding traffic laws we expect them to obey, like not stopping at intersections. They resent cyclists riding abreast in large groups and causing traffic to back up behind them. They think we’re arrogant. They resent the clothing we wear. All of this leads to feelings commonly held by drivers that they don’t believe we belong on the road and resent having to share the roads with us at all.
Keep in mind, these same drivers end up on jury duty. Most people would be shocked to hear what potential jurors say during jury selection when asked about their attitudes towards cyclists. It's very difficult to get a fair and impartial jury selected in a cycling accident case because of this pervasive resentment. Yet, at the same time, we're relying on them to give us a fair trial.
Bottom line: We need to follow the rules -- when we don’t, we make it more difficult for everybody.