Jurich: Motorists and cyclists uniteWritten by Stacy Jurich | | email@example.com
There are a few strong souls who brave all elements and ride year-round. Now, with buds a bloomin’, more and more people are tuning up their bicycles and taking them to the streets, for leisure, exercise and as transportation. Whatever the reason, whatever the weather and whomever the rider, it is time again for me to present the laws and considerations in Toledo that protect bicycle riders. So, attention motorists and cyclists — this is for you.
“A person operating a bicycle [is not required] to ride at the edge of the roadway when it is unreasonable to do so.”
—Toledo Municipal Code 373.07.
Roadways in Toledo can be hazardous to any type of vehicle. Potholes can damage car tires or suspensions but can be even more threatening to a cyclist. A pothole can easily cause a bicycle to flip and damage the tires, rims, frame and even the cyclist. Both high-traffic roadways and less traveled streets contain a multitude of debris, like broken glass, rocks, garbage, dead rodents,
branches, etc. If a bicyclist is hugging a curb while riding and there is a car immediately to his or her left, this leaves no room to maneuver around an obstacle that is in the rider’s path. Having a full lane allows the cyclist to have space to weave around dangerous obstacles, especially when there is no shoulder between the traffic lane and the curb (there are not enough designated bike lanes in Toledo).
“In the case of dedicated bicycle lanes within the roadway, bicycle riders may use the roadway.”
— Toledo Municipal Code 373.11(a).
On several occasions I have been riding a bike when a car passes and the driver or a passenger shouts, “Get off the road!” or simply shakes their head in absolute disgust that someone is riding a bike in the street! Sidewalks are both inconvenient and dangerous to bicycles. Sidewalks are designed for and are primarily used by pedestrians. For a commuter cyclist or a cyclist traveling at a fast speed, sidewalks are not an option. There is difficulty passing pedestrians, there are uneven sidewalk blocks, tree roots or other vegetation growing through the cement, barking dogs, strollers, wheelchairs, etc. When a sidewalk is intersected by a street, often times the curb does not have a smooth transition into the street but instead is a deep drop or loose cement that can cause damage to the bicycle or cyclist. Additionally, cars pulling out of a driveway are accustomed to stopping and checking traffic before pulling into the street, but generally do not anticipate quickly moving sidewalk traffic.
“When a motor vehicle overtakes a bicycle, the safe distance shall not be less than 3 feet.”
— Toledo Municipal Code 331.03(a).
It seems common sense as to why a car should pass a bike with at least 3 feet of clearance. However, some drivers forget common sense and compassion (consideration would suffice) in the midst of apathy or haste. They are either too lazy to switch lanes to pass or in too much of a hurry to slow down and wait for a space to open to allow a safe passing clearance. When bluntly put, 3 feet is the margin of error — an error that could mean a splattered cyclist, in which case I would defer to TMC 373.07 and give the cyclist the full lane! At any rate, a bicyclist needs room to ride, room to dodge any number of road hazards and room to be able to safely make an instantaneous maneuver to avoid a collision or accident.
When you are pulling into traffic, at a stop sign or stoplight, or just driving down the road, remember that it is the law to share the road with bicyclists. A bicyclist at a stop sign has a turn based upon order of arrival just as an automobile does. Drivers should not assume that a bike rider can see them or that the rider is going to stop. Equally, bicyclists should never assume that a car driver sees them and is going to stop. Whether you’re bicycling or driving an auto, be safe, be aware and be considerate of others.
Laws aside, I am challenging anyone with an errand, work commute or destination fewer than 5 miles away to travel it by bike. Bicycling is the most efficient mode of transportation. It takes approximately 100 calories to power a bicycle for three miles; that same amount only powers a car for 280 feet. It allows the rider to exercise while running errands or going to work. Bicycling uses renewable resources as fuel (food and water) and emits no pollutants. You will find the rewards to be bountiful. Put the fun between your legs!
Email Stacy Jurich at firstname.lastname@example.org.