5 Things Bicyclists Wish You Knew About Us

1. We have just as much a right to be here as you have.

In most states, bicycles are considered powered vehicles and subject to all the laws and rights of the road as cars. Take, for instance, Indiana’s straightforward law: “A person riding a bicycle upon a roadway has all the rights and duties under this article that are applicable to a person who drives a vehicle.” So, while you’re swerving around us and swearing at us, know that, according to state law, we have every bit as much a right to be on the road as you do.

2. We don’t want to be here either.

That being said, you aren’t the only one frustrated when we’re in bumper-to-bicycle traffic. Bicycles on the road might be irritating for you, but it can be deadly for us. In recently released statistics, 630 bicyclists died on US roads in 2009. A startlingly 51,000 bicyclists were injured in traffic that same year! These possibilities are on our minds as we ride shoulder-to-shoulder with motorists. If you don’t want to share the roads with us, please find a local organization, like the B & O Trail project in Indiana, and donate money to help build new bike trails in your area. Bicyclists will be happy to leave the roads to you!

3. We wish you knew the hand signals we use.

Using hand signals doesn’t do bicyclists much good if motorists don’t know what they mean. If you find yourself sharing the road with bicyclists frequently, help keep both of you safe by learning our hand signals.

4. A little space, please.

Having cars whiz by your ear at 55 mph can be more than a little rattling for a bicyclist. In addition to that, the wind from your passing can blow us about. Depending on the bicyclist and the bike, it may only take our tire sliding an inch to the right before we’re pitching over the handlebars and into the ditch. If you can’t give bicyclists a wide passing distance because of oncoming traffic, please at least slow down for us.

5. We do this for widely different reasons.

You can’t assume too much about any individual bicyclist. Some of us are on our bikes because we don’t have cars or can’t afford gas. Some of us are getting in shape or training for races. Some of us just enjoy the fresh outdoors. No two bicyclists ride for the same reasons. If you’re curious, ask a bicyclist, or better yet, try it yourself!

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