Cyclists should follow rules of the road


To the Editor:

When I was in Girls Scouts the troop leaders taught us how to ride our bicycles on public roads safely. We learned to obey the traffic laws and that bicycles are legally defined as vehicles and subject to the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers. We even took a ride up Tilley Creek, where I’m sure we frustrated drivers with our string of 15 girls riding their bikes.

Today, we still have bicyclists on the roads, but things are a little different now. Back then riders didn’t wear helmets, but they did obey the traffic laws. Today, bicyclists wear helmets and do not obey traffic laws. Back then riders also practiced common courtesy and pulled off the road when a vehicle was behind them. Today, bike riders do not seem to practice common courtesy of any kind. A particularly rude hand gesture seems to be the only signal bike riders use.

Bicyclist groups have lobbied our state legislature and now have certain roads with designated bike lanes, but I have only seen a bicyclist using a bike lane once. Once! Instead, riders seem to use the smallest, curviest mountain roads they can find, and God help the car driver who rounds a blind curve at a normal speed and suddenly finds himself running up the backside of a bicycle.

My current experience with this is going to work in the mornings and observing a bicyclist come flying down Savannah Drive, ignoring stop signs at the fountain, the road he comes off of, the stop lights in town, and not using a hand signal when turning onto another road. At least the bike is fun to watch, with red and blue reflectors. It can take a few minutes to pass him due to the curves but he doesn’t seem to give the vehicles behind him the first thought. At that hour they all have drivers who are going to work.

On North River Road I have seen as many as five vehicles behind bicyclists. In North Carolina, bicyclists are entitled to enough space as they need to operate their bikes safely, but it would be nice if the bike riders would remember to pull over as we expect slower cars to do. Riders, please be alert to what’s behind you in addition to what’s in front of you. Mirrors help.

I grew up on the campus of Western Carolina, and bicycles are nothing new to me. Lord knows, I was all over that campus on my own bike then.

Maybe bicyclists these days don’t realize what a hazard they are on the roads, in curves, or flying through town not obeying traffic lights or signs. My own radar is up for these guys; to me they’re like squirrels, just not as cute. I just wish they would practice driver courtesy. N.C. law concerning bicycles is fairly easy to read. All drivers and riders should refresh their own knowledge.

Kim Shuler, Dillsboro