Letter to the editor: Drivers, bikers can work together to ensure safety
Spring is here and while there may not be many cars on the roads these days, there are a fair amount of bicyclists out there. It is a great time to ride a bike even though we have many other challenges upon us.
So, you’re driving your car along a two-lane country road with no shoulder like almost every country road in Vermont. You see a biker up ahead, going in the same direction along your side of the road. Your first thought is, “Darn it!”
First, take a deep breath. This is a challenge and can be frustrating, even for us car drivers who are also bicyclists, but it is a bicycle, and like farm tractors and horses, they have the right to use the roads too. Another breath…
Situation 1 — You see that the other lane is clear and that there are no blind hills or blind turns ahead. You ask yourself, “How much room do I need to give to this biker who is slowing me down?”
Answer — You need to give them 4 feet, per Vermont State Law.
You ask, “How do I measure that?”
Answer — Just go completely into the other lane. The biker will appreciate it and you are sure to be in accordance with the Law. In this case, think of a horse. You would not speed past close to a horse, as you might startle it. Besides being against the law, it is very scary to have a car hurtle past you at 50mph when it is close enough to touch.
Situation 2 — You see another car coming toward you in the other lane. This is where you need to give yourself permission to slow down and wait until the lane is clear. Yes, this is hard for us as we feel we need to keep rushing along. Pretend that the bike is a tractor. You would pass the bike in the same manner. The bike is your obstacle so you have the obligation to wait until the other lane is clear with no blind hills or curves and then pass as in Situation 1. Don’t worry if there are cars behind you. This is a country road and not the Interstate. Bicycles and tractors are allowed to be on these roads, so we need to give them due respect. Patience is the key.
Avoid “Tri-squeezation” — the dreaded situation where two cars going in opposite directions pass while at the same time also passing a bicycle. There is not enough room to safely or legally pass in this situation and it is very dangerous. If the bike is in your lane, you must wait until the other lane is clear in order to pass safely. Please, please don’t race to get past the biker before the other car gets there. This is very dangerous for everyone involved.
Bikers — If there are cars waiting for a while to pass you, please look for a safe spot to pull off of the road so that they can get past you. This is not the law but it will be much appreciated by the car drivers.
Bikers — When cars pass you safely, give them a friendly wave of thanks.
Happy Spring! Be Safe!
We are all in this together.
Member of the Walk-Bike Council of Addison County
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