Sharing the Road: Easier Said Than Done



The phrase “easier said than done” applies appropriately to sharing the road with people who are traveling in the same or a different mode of transportation than you.  It occurred to me today that as much as I believe I share fairly and reasonably the road with bicyclists, it depends on the definition of “share” from a biker’s and a driver’s literal (visual) and psychological points of view.

For example, if a bicyclist doesn’t have a proper bike lane or enough space on the right side of the road (and she won’t get on the sidewalk because it’s illegal and dangerous for both the bicyclist and any pedestrians who may or may not dart out onto a sidewalk before a bicyclist can come to an effective stop), she isn’t very likely going to stop and let a driver pass her, is she?  Or, would she prefer for the driver to hurry up and get around her so that she could resume her biking pace?

Perhaps in suburban areas or neighborhood streets, she would let a driver by because there is room and opportunity (in much the same way a pedestrian may let a car or bike pass before continue walking).  More often than not, if residential buildings are not on a main road, there is usually a turning lane.  This morning, I was driving on a one-lane road through a residential area.  The road was on an incline and windy, thus, it made little sense to me to try and accelerate past a couple of bicyclists not only because at that particular stretch of the road, I’d be unable to stop/swerve if a car were to come from the other direction by the time I’d gotten closer to the bicyclists, but my visibility was also limited.  I needed to get around a curve several “blocks” ahead before I could consider going around them.

The speed limit was twenty-five mph on that road; there was a neighborhood turning lane approaching.  I thought the bicyclists would move over to the turning lane and let me pass, but nope.  Instead, after a car from the other direction had gone by me, I was able to increase my speed enough to drive alongside the bicyclists…at their speed.  I thought I was sharing the road because I was going slowly and wanted to make my presence known before I increased my speed to move in front of them.

One of the bicyclists motioned to me with his left arm in a manner that I interpreted as, “Move it along!  Just go, go, go!”

And so I did.  I was miffed, for sure, at first because I thought it nonsensical for a bicyclist with no bike lane to be so annoyed that I didn’t zoom by him.  I believed I was being courteous…and then I realized that even though I knew my intentions, he had no way of knowing it.  He could’ve seen my driving as needlessly slow and excessively “sharing” to the point of “lingering.”

The bicyclists I’ve seen on city streets would probably appreciate my slowness but only because they would get on the sidewalk …if only to get away from me. ^o^

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