If I’m ever ever on my bicycle and get into an accident with a car, this is the most likely scenario: I’m riding as far right as possible, with traffic, as the law requires. I go straight, while the car next to me makes a right turn so that I plow into the side of the vehicle, which did not have its directional signal on. I say this because it’s almost happened more than once, or a close variation. Just last week, this variation. Car is at the red light. I pull along side of it. It starts to turn right, heading toward me – we weren’t even in the intersection yet, so I guess he wanted to hug the curb. I say, very loudly, “WHOA!” And he stopped. No, he did not have his right directional on. If he had, I would have held back. The apparent optional nature of the right directional signal makes it very difficult, not only for bicyclists, but for pedestrians as well.
Now do I always obey the laws of the road while on the bike? I do not. There are certain places in Albany (New Scotland near CDPC, Western Avenue between Pine and Manning, much of Lark Street) when I just don’t feel very safe on the narrow roadway, when cars have come dangerously close in the past. And, in these cases, I head for the sidewalk, always yielding to the pedestrians, as it is THEIR turf. When I’m on the roadway, however, I do the right things; I signal, I stop at red lights and stop signs, etc.
There’s a traffic circle around the Harriman Campus and also at Corporate Woods that have signs reading “Shared roadway”. This is peculiar in that most roadways, with the exception of the Interstates ARE – supposedly – shared roadways.
In re: this, three items caught my attention. The most direct is the death of a young woman on her bicycle in Albany. The usually mild-mannered Daniel Van Riper scolds the media and others for blaming the victim in his June 10 and 21 posts here. The second is a piece ADD wrote about the environmental impact of the automobile. The third is the widely-noted Vatican rules of the road:
1. You shall not kill. OK, stolen from the “other” Ten Commandments, but a good idea.
2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm. By “communion, I don’t think the Vatican meant giving someone the finger.
3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events. Why, oh why, do people speed up to a red light?
4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents. Some time ago, I had read this theory that all of those steel tanks on the road somehow isolate us from each other.
5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin. Sin in a car? Why, whatever did they mean?
6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so. This could cover everything from drunken driving to the road raged to those who’ve lost the ability to drive due to age.
7. Support the families of accident victims. Amen.
8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness. Interesting. I’m a big fan of true reconciliation.
9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party. YES! That means all up and down the chain, from trucks watching for cars to bicyclists watching for pedestrians.
10. Feel responsible toward others. Ultimately, what it’s all about.
(DVR and the Vatican in the same post. Will wonders never cease?) ROG