Give cyclists a bit of leeway

Here's a few things drivers should know that cyclists know

Dear Sir:

I feel moved to write and thank the great majority of drivers that passed me on my first road bike ride of the season up to Lean-To Creek and back on the Kalum Lake Road.

At least 19 out of every 20 drivers gave me at least half a lane when passing, and if there was an approaching vehicle that prevented that, slowed down and gave me as much room as they could.

It seems to me that more and more drivers are conscious of the need to share the road with cyclists.

For the five per cent or so that don’t give cyclists adequate room on the road, I would like to offer a few things you may not have considered.

First, if I am riding with a significant side wind blowing towards the edge of the road I am riding on, I am leaning into that wind with a force equal to that of the wind in order to travel in a straight line.

If you suddenly appear beside me, you block that wind and suddenly I am moving toward the centre of the road with the force that I was exerting to counter the wind.

That can easily move me a metre or so toward the centre of the road before I can correct course.

Second, there are frequently hazards that you cannot see, and which would be insignificant to a car (such as broken glass, sharp pieces of rock, or other debris) in the path of a cyclist who is riding as close to the edge of the pavement as they feel safe.

They usually cannot avoid such obstacles by moving to the right without hitting the shoulder or a rumble strip.

If I strike such an object, I may lose control of the bike, and when I fall over, the top of my head is going to be about two metres to the left of where my wheels were.

If I don’t strike the object, I need to avoid it by moving to the left, and just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Third, on rural roads near town, there is a real and significant risk of large untethered dogs dashing out of driveways and attempting to grab a cyclist by the leg.

The natural reaction is to try to avoid the dog. This happened to me just recently. If one of the five per cent of drivers who don’t move over had been overtaking me, I probably would not be writing this today.

I suspect that, of that five per cent, most have just not thought about the things that could go wrong during the split second when they are passing.

To the few that feel cyclists have no right to the road, the Motor Vehicle Act of BC states explicitly that a cyclist has every right to ride on any paved road except a controlled-access highway, and furthermore has the right to occupy as much of the lane as they feel they require for their personal safety, and also that motorists are required to pass cyclists safely.

Under most circumstances on our uncrowded highways, it costs a motorist absolutely nothing to give a cyclist an entire lane when they are passing, and it is by far the safest thing to do.

Tim Keenan,

Terrace, B.C.