The weather here took a dramatic jump in the last week, going from 30s and 40s to 70s and 80s. It’s pretty early for the weather to get this warm, but it’s not like it’s the first time it’s happened. After all, it’s Minnesota and like the saying goes, if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.
As the temperatures rose, the number of bicyclists jumped. Whether for recreation or transportation, they’re out in droves.
While bicyclists are happy, the increased numbers on the streets have made it challenging for us non-bicyclists – for us drivers.
Minnesota has a statute on the books, 169.222, stating that bicyclists have the same rights and privileges as drivers of other vehicles.
That’s all well and good, but I have an issue with the language. Bicycles are not vehicles, they are a mode of non-motorized transportation. And since they’re not motorized, bicyclists aren’t required to carry a license plate on their bike, nor are they required to have insurance. Motorists are.
This statute also says cyclists must be familiar with, and obey all traffic laws, when sharing the road. You can disagree with me all you want, but this one seems to be ignored by 95 percent of bicyclists.
I’ve had two near-misses with bicyclists. The first was at an intersection, but I didn’t have the stop sign. I also know this neighborhood has a high number of bicyclists. I was under the speed limit when I went through the intersection and I’m glad I was because a bicyclist blew through the intersection, not stopping at the stop sign. Good thing I wasn’t going faster otherwise I would’ve hit him.
The second occurred in downtown Minneapolis. I was in the far left lane when a bicyclist cut across the lanes and right in front of me to make a left turn. And she didn’t bother to make a hand signal of any kind. I had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting her.
And if I had hit either one of those two, somehow it would’ve been my fault and my insurance rates would’ve jacked up.
Other less-than-smart things I’ve seen bicyclists do include:
- Weaving in between cars that are waiting at a red light.
- Wearing headphones on both ears, instead of leaving one ear uncovered.
- Texting. Yes, texting.
- Riding two abreast down the street, preventing cars from going around.
- Not stopping at red lights or stop signs.
- Bicycling on sidewalks and not yielding to pedestrians.
- Not riding close to the curb, but riding close to the left edge of the bike lane, too close to motorized traffic.
I wish I had videos of any or all of these gaffs, but I never will unless I’ve pulled over and stopped the car. When I’m driving, I’m driving. I’m not talking, I’m not texting, I’m not putting on makeup or eating breakfast/dinner/in-between snacks. I hardly ever change the radio stations, because that split second I look down, something could happen. I also don’t drink and drive. I’m not saying I’m the perfect driver; I’m just trying to get to my destination safely and avoid an accident.
What I want is for all bicyclists to be required to put a small license plate on their bicycle. Charge a nominal fee, no more than $5.00. Then if they blow through a stop sign or nearly hit a pedestrian, they could be reported to the police just as a motorist would.
Yes, I know this was one-sided, but before you go and think I’m some heartless bitch driving a gas-guzzling car and hogging up the road, you need to know I didn’t get my first car until I was 30. Before that, I took the bus or rode my bike everywhere. So, yes, I’ve been on the other side of the car. And I’ve also gotten hit by a car while on a bicycle.
Some friends and I took in a later movie. About 12:30 in the morning, I was biking home –no, I hadn’t been drinking, in case you were curious – when I came to an intersection with a red light. I stopped and waited for it to turn green. The next thing I know, I’m laying on the street. A driver had hit me from behind before stopping. He came to help me up and claimed he didn’t see me; he also smelled like he had been drinking. The next day I had to go to urgent care because my right hand was swelling up. Turns out I had fractured a bone in my hand, and I ended up with a cast on my hand for seven weeks.
Both motorists and bicyclists have their own take on each other; there’s no grey area to this issue. Bicyclists are wrong in motorists’ eyes and vice versa. I don’t know if dialogue would solve the issue, because I don’t think either side would really listen to each other.
The one thing that’s clear to me is this – if you as a bicyclist want to be treated as a vehicle, then act like one. Learn the rules of the road and obey them. It’s real simple.