I live in Wyoming. There are more pronghorn here than people. There are more horses in my neighborhood than residents. So it's not like overcrowding is exactly a problem.
Still, whenever I ride my roadbike, something cool happens. I am nearly overcome with gratitude for the awesome drivers who share the road with me. In three years of weekly riding, I have precisely zero stories of negative encounters with drivers on my state's highways and byways. Zero.
What do these drivers do right?
1. They give me plenty of room as they pass. On a two-lane highway with plenty of visibility on the straightaway, they drive in the opposite lane giving me a solid 12-foot bubble of safety and they also lower their speed by 10-20 mph.
2. They don't crowd me when coming up behind me on a hill or curve. OK, this isn't exclusively true. Some drivers just don't know that the six feet gap they leave me feels like six inches (especially when they're in noisy diesel trucks). I wave them around me, honestly, not because I know the passing is safe for them, frankly, but to get them off my tail so I can go back to huffing and puffing up that steep hill without one ton of pressure creepin' on me. (Full disclosure: It honestly didn't occur to me that the reason they were creeping was because they couldn't see ahead of me. I'm going to have to think about that the next time it happens.)
3. They know the shoulder isn't a synonym for bikes-only lane. They let me ride on the road, instead of angrily rushing me into the wide shoulder. Sure, the shoulder is a great place for me to ride ... some of the time. A lot of the time, it's filled with grit, and it's not as safe (or comfortable) to ride in that. (It's also hard on my spendy-for-me bike.) So when I'm on the left side of the fog line, courteous drivers get that it's because the shoulder is gritty. Super appreciate that! Don't get me wrong, I ride the grit when cars can't pass me easily, and I'm happy to do so.
When riding my road bike, which I often do solo, I feel both invincible and incredibly vulnerable. (That's probably precisely why I keep pedaling! What a delicious mix!) Truth is, I AM more vulnerable. A cyclist can't take a hit. My helmet offers me only so much protection. I recognize I'm no match for a car, and I'm so grateful the vast majority of people in my county have empathy for me.
So why don't I wave gratefully to all the kind-minded drivers out there? I'm. Too. Tired.
But that doesn't mean I don't appreciate you!
Drivers, what kind of moves do you make to help cyclists? Cyclists, what awesome courtesies have drivers on your training routes provided you?
3 Ways Drivers Can Help Cyclists
By Juliette Rule
August 11, 2014
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