Tuesday, July 21, 2015

An open letter to wrong-way bicyclists

Tired of reading all those letters to editors by local citizens suggesting that cyclists should ride against traffic?? Here's a great piece in today's News-Press: "An open letter to wrong-way bicyclists". Thank you, Robert Sciolino of Cape Coral for speaking up and for saying it so well! (And thanks to News-Press for publishing it.) Watch for BikeWalkLee's column later this week on the same topic.

By Robert J. Sciolino 
Photo from News-Press

You are in more danger, not less, when you ride facing traffic.

I get it, but it is against the law.

I know you truly think if you see cars coming you can avoid them when they suddenly swerve into you.

You cannot.

If you are on a residential street and the traffic is approaching you while on your bike and you are going about 15 mph, that traffic is headed at you at 45 mph. I don’t care if you are a world-class athlete; you are not “stepping” out of the way of a 45 mph approach.


Had this been the same “distracted” driver on the other side and you were riding with traffic, the impact would be 15 mph … a 30 mph car hitting a 15 mph cyclist. Yes, the impact still occurred, yet now you have a fighting chance to survive.

You’ve already made the decision to ride in traffic, so, since you are there … give yourself a chance.

Here’s another thing you may not have thought about; cars pulling out in front of you from a side street are not looking your way … almost ever. Their concern is approaching traffic to their left, not you on your bike going the wrong way on their right.

I save the best for last; other people.

Other cyclists.

When you ride on the wrong side you endanger cyclists who are riding legally. When you approach each other it’s head-on.

Who goes left? Who goes right?

Who heads for the grass? Who heads for the street?

When you both head the same way you end up … if lucky with bad headaches and ruined bikes.

And it’s your fault.

You’re going to be paying someone’s hospital bills and buying them a new bike.

I ride 10,000 miles every year on the road. I ride with traffic. I have never had a close call. Thousands of cars pass me every single day on my way and coming home from work, on the busiest streets in Lee County, including Colonial Boulevard, the Midpoint Bridge and Veterans Parkway. Never a close call.

However, years ago when I didn’t know any better, and rode the sidewalks and the wrong way on the road — close calls three or four times each week and three crashes with motor vehicles.

The only crash I have had in five years involving another vehicle was a bicyclist riding the wrong way. I broke my collarbone, cracked ribs, chipped a tooth and had a severe concussion — and lost my bike.

He rode off. It was a hit-and-run — somehow, no injuries.

I say all this because I ran into a couple taking a leisurely ride on Cultural Park Boulevard in Cape Coral recently, going the wrong way. I tried to politely explain the issues involved and instead was treated to laughter and sarcasm — and plain ignorance. 

Well, I truly hope we don’t “run into each other” again because I ride an expensive bike and he may not want to finance a new one for me. Hopefully, in his ignorance that’s the only price he ever pays for an enjoyable neighborhood ride. 

Be safe, ride with traffic.  

Robert J. Sciolino lives in Cape Coral.

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