Bicyclist should stay off road

It’s December in Wisconsin again. We’re on pace to receive more snow than last year. That means that the roads are in terrible condition. It’s not exactly my idea of safe riding weather, at least for anyone that isn’t comfortable riding.

So it surprised me to find a woman riding on the street one day. I had just turned onto a main road from my workplace when I encountered the rider pedaling along the right side of the road. A couple of cars had passed her as she made her way to the intersection with a four-way stop. So I slowed down behind her and let her proceed to the intersection. But she was not a skilled rider: she didn’t have a helmet, she rode what looked like either a cruiser or a hybrid (she sat upright), and she was hugging the side of the road, which meant trying to cut through snow and slush. She even nearly fell off her bike before the intersection, but she managed to make it there before dismounting.

I waited for her to cross the street. The intersection had a number of vehicles waiting then going through. She stood there for a second, then looked like she was about to climb on and ride. Then she got off. She then looked like she was going to make her attempt on foot. But then she stopped again. Then she tried to get back on the bike, but again she looked too nervous. This went on for a couple of minutes, all the while not paying attention to the cars lining up behind her (including me).

I finally decided that this was taking too long, so I drove up, rolled down my passenger-side window and tried to call out to her to see if she was going to cross or if I should go around. Either I didn’t yell loud enough or she was in shock because she didn’t acknowledge me. So I drove around her.

This incident brought to mind an all-too-important point: don’t ride in traffic if you’re not sure what to do. Even worse, don’t do it when you’re not steady on the bike. This bicyclist was unsteady, was riding too far to the right, and didn’t cross the road when she had the right. Other cyclists have gone through that intersection, most (if not all) without incident. But this particular woman was not sure what to do. It reminded me that bicycle traffic safety is still too unknown for many.

So one of my goals next year is to push for more bicycle education for both bicyclists and motorists.

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