Now, as many of you know, I mostly travel by bike. I don't like to drive, Dave and I only have one car between us anyway, and biking is SO much faster than walking (and let's face it the sidewalks around here are random at best, falling apart at worst). Besides, biking is better for my body, it's better for our pocketbook, and it's better for the environment. I LOVE to bike!
I don't know. I suppose you never completely get used to drivers' rude screams about how bikers should "get off the road" or "get on the sidewalk," but it happens often enough, I've tried to take a zen-like approach and not let it upset my ride.
This morning, however, instead of the driver yelling out the window, I noticed a truck pull up along side me as we were both moving along Wm. J. Bryan Parkway. My first impression was that it must be an officer because I glimpsed a light-bar across the top of the vehicle.
He says to me, "Ma'am, I'm going to have to ask you to ride on the sidewalk."
Now the old Heather would have gotten on the side walk and just grumbled the rest of the way, frustrated at uneducated drivers.
The current Heather looked the guy in the eye and said, "NO."
I then explained that the Texas Drivers Handbook gave me every right to drive on the road.
He asked me to be safe, and drove off, at which time I noticed that there weren't any markings on his truck to indicate he was "official" in any capacity. In fact, I'm pretty sure the light bar on the top was yellow and not a "police" light-bar.
Either way, how about we set the record straight, because the truth of the matter is that bikes are actually safer on the road than they are on the sidewalk because they are more visible. In fact, studies have shown that bikers are at least twice as safe on the road than sidewalk (studies here and here).
Whether a driver believes that or not is practically irrelevant, however, because the Texas Drivers Handbook, Chapter 9 says, and I quote,
Bicycle Rules for Motorists
- A bicycle is a vehicle and any person riding a bicycle has all the rights and responsibilities as a driver of a vehicle.
- Bicyclists are required to ride as far right in the lane as possible only when the lane can be safely shared by a car and bicycle, side by side. Even then, there are certain conditions that allow a bicyclist to take the full lane such as: the person is overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction; the person is preparing for a left turn at an intersection or only a private road or driveway; there are unsafe conditions in the roadway such as fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, animals, potholes, or debris; the land is of substandard width making it unsafe for a car and a bicycle to safely share the lane side by side. When this is the case, it is best for the cyclist to take the full lane whether riding single file or two abreast.
- Bicyclist are not restricted to the right lane of traffic. One-way, multi-landed streets are one example. Another instance is when the bicyclist is changing lanes to make a left turn. The bicyclist should follow the same path any other vehicle would take traveling the same direction.
- Motorists should merge with bicycle traffic when preparing for a right-hand turn. Avoid turning directly across the path of bicycle traffic.
Maybe I'm preaching to the choir here, but the next time you feel like yelling at a bicyclist, your energy might be more productive in demanding bike lanes from the city. 'Cause whether you like it or not, we bikers will be on the roads along side your vehicles. So get over it and give us some room!