Make Roads Safer For Bicyclists
Cyclists want you to spot them. They share a love of the road, great Washington scenery, cheery camaraderie, a zeal for a healthy environment and good personal health.
Even so, a few bicyclists die in this state and hundreds more around the country each year. Many more are injured from car-bike accidents. According to official statistics, there were 50 cycle fatalities on Washington roads from 2003 to 2007. Those numbers may be slight relative to the 2,578 who died in motor vehicle and motorcycle accidents over the same period, or the 343 pedestrians killed in auto-related collisions, but there aren't as many cyclists.
Slapdash motorists aren't always to blame. Sometimes the fault is traced to road conditions, mechanical issues or even the carelessness of the rider.
Some motorists would like laws to restrict cyclists from using roads for which they claim they pay with their tax dollars. That driver ignores that most cyclists are also drivers who share the tax costs of the roads. Our family fuels four vehicles and, with daily van pooling, I log more than 20,000 motor miles a year.
While the majority of motorists are courteous and provide safe distance, most road cyclists have stories of near misses. Last year a motorist lobbed a water bottle within inches of me, then circled back to yell obscenities. While pedaling in rural Pierce County last summer, a vicious dog charged while its owner stood by -- it was all I could do to outrace the beast. I now keep mace handy.
Years ago, my 72-year-old grandfather died from head injuries from a bike spill in West Seattle. It is in remembrance of him and other fallen cyclists that I will join Seattle's Ride of Silence on May 21. This is a national event organized locally three years ago.
The evening Ride of Silence is open to all. The ground rules for participation are simple: Show up and ride at no more than 12 miles per hour. There are no shirts or registration and no fees. You can get more details of the Seattle, Tacoma and other area rides by going to local bicycle club Web sites or bike shops.
Seattle native Brian Dirks lives in Federal Way and is a recreational cyclist.
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