Rules of the Road It’s a holiday week for most of North America, and we decided to have a little fun with our content.

You won’t learn a whole ton that will help you in your professional career, but you will have lots of books to read, podcasts to listen to, and even a BINGO game to play.

I thought I’d kick off this holiday week with a reminder about cyclists on the road.

Because, while it has nothing to do with communications, most of you will encounter cyclists on the road.

You see, I am a cyclist. I ride my bike, on the road (and on the trainer and in the gym) for exercise.

I am in no way doing it to annoy drivers or hog the road or act like cars don’t belong out there.

On the contrary.

The only reason I might give you that perception is because I’m fearful of my life because of something either you or another car has done in the previous seconds.

And, I would like to think that once you realize the cyclist is a human being and not someone out there to slow you down, you’ll be a little more cognizant.

Cyclists On the Road

There are many, many, many people who get behind the wheel of a car and become different personas of themselves.

They think cyclists are there as moving targets.

They think we ride just to annoy drivers.

As it turns out, that’s just not true.

Sure, we may slow you down and there are lots of amateurs out there (especially now that so many places have bike sharing).

But no one is doing it to annoy you.

A year and a half ago, I hired a coach to help get me back into racing shape.

While I never stopped riding after my small one arrived, I certainly was not in the same shape I was before her.

It was time and I needed some help.

Because of that, I spend even more time on my bike than before.

And, in that time, I have had a:

  • Guy drive his green mini van so close behind me, he kept hitting my back wheel. If I stopped to let him pass, he stopped, too. If I moved further to the right, he did, too. I finally had to get on the sidewalk and pull out my phone to take a picture of his license plate.
  • Woman open her door into the bike lane, nearly taking me out.
  • Woman turned left into the bike lane so she could turn right a few blocks down.
  • Mailman speed past me, only to brake hard so he could turn right in front of me.
  • Convertible go around me as the guy behind the wheel flipped me off.
  • Guy get out of his car and start yelling at me because I accidentally dropped my water bottle in the middle of the road and had to turn around to pick it up. That was especially fun because I had my kid on the back of my bike with me.
  • Jogger cross the bike path in front of me, without looking, and took me out.
  • Tourist move left as I passed her yelling, “On your left!”  (You know, instead of moving right and staying out of the way.)

We joke that I have one really bad cycling accident a year—and, with the exception of one, they have never been my fault.

(That one, I freaked out going over a bridge because there were gaps in the road…and I ended up freaking myself out so much, I crashed.)

Everything I’ve listed above happened while I was riding either on the bike path or in the bike lane.

If there isn’t a bike lane, I ride as far right as I possibly can…because, contrary to the belief of some drivers out there, I do not want to get hit by a car.

Share the Road

There are rules of the road.

If the bike lane is blocked or impaired, cyclists have a right to be on the road.

If there isn’t a bike lane, cyclists have a right to be on the road.

Cyclists can ride two across.

It’s the law.

But we also have to obey traffic rules, which I know isn’t the case for all of us.

It makes me angry when I see a cyclist running a light or moving through traffic against the flow.

He makes it bad for all of us.

But the fact of the matter is, no matter how you feel about it, cyclists have as much right to be on the road as cars.

I once had a friend tell me we didn’t deserve to be out there because we don’t pay taxes.

Uh…I pay taxes just like everyone else.

Just because I prefer to ride my bike doesn’t mean I don’t have to pay for a city sticker and a neighborhood parking permit and parking and taxes.

Rules Of the Road

With that in mind, I’ve put together some tips for watching out for cyclists this holiday week:

  • Bikes belong in the bike lane. Cars do not belong there. And bikes are not allowed on sidewalks. Be mindful of that fact.
  • Cyclists, by law, can ride two abreast and it is the courtesy of the car to go around them.
  • Honking your horn at a cyclist is almost as bad as hitting them. Have you ever walked across the street and have the car you’re passing honk their horn? It scares you so badly, you jump. Same thing on a bike, but a cyclist could easily fall off their bike and under your tires.
  • When you come to a four-way stop and have the right of way, freaking drive your car. The cyclist cannot breeze through the sign, but many cars will just sit there waiting to see what he or she will do. If you just sit there, the cyclist is going to take their turn and then you get mad because they didn’t have the right of way. Follow the same rules of the road as if the cyclist were a car.
  • If you are going to cross the bike lane to make a turn, look in your mirrors for cyclists, just like you would another car. And use your signal. It tells us what you’re going to do as much as it does another car.
  • Turning left in front of a cyclist is as dangerous as doing it in front of an oncoming car. Wait the extra three seconds for the cyclist to pass.
  • And, for the love of all things good and great, please, please, please look in your mirrors before opening the door to get out of your car.

I know some of you will say, “But Gini, cyclists don’t follow the rules of the road.”

Yes, I know.

It kind of makes me nuts to see guys (I’ve never seen a woman cyclist do this) weaving in and out of traffic and going through red lights.

But don’t let the bad ones ruin it for us all.

There are bad drivers. There are bad cyclists.

Just remember…cyclists are human beings. When you rush around them or ride in the bike lane or don’t check your mirrors for them, you are risking their lives.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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