This is in response to the “From Readers” article “Columbia bikes collaborate to inform public on bike safety,” written by Nina Wajrowski.
I’ve lived in Columbia for nearly three years, and it has the largest population of bike riders of any area I’ve lived. I love the idea of riding bikes. I even envy those who can commute via bike to and from work. However, I hope that during their ride, Ms. Wajrowski also took the time to inform bike riders about their responsibilities as well.
There are a good many “serious” bicyclists in this town who I’ve witnessed following traffic rules and the courtesies of the road. But I see far more people on bikes with a “we have the right to be here” mentality without following these rules – laws even. Bicyclists who don’t follow road signs (including stopping at stop signs), weave in and out of traffic as they see fit, wear no reflective attire at night, and do not use hand signals to show their intent are giving every biker a bad rap. And I for one, am not about to start giving these irresponsible riders a pass.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve noticed advertisements on local radio stations reminding drivers about bicyclists' rights. So one day, two weeks ago when I got stuck behind a biker driving in the middle of the lane, while mildly annoyed, I decided to give him the benefit of a doubt. I gave him his space and waited as we approached a stop sign, where I expected that if he “had the right” to the entire lane, he would responsibly signal for his turn and make a complete stop at the stop sign. When he did neither, I decided to go around him, as there was no oncoming traffic. At the next stop sign a short distance ahead, he started yelling and making hand gestures at me. I rolled down my window and Mr. Irresponsible Biker informed me that I “shouldn’t do that.” I informed him that as long as he was not stopping at stop signs or using hand signals, I would do as I pleased.
Now, on a regular day, I probably would have said nothing. But I was in a mood that day in the first place, and I’m getting very tired of bikers wanting to be sure vehicle drivers are informed of “their rights.”
Again, I’m happy to share the road with responsible bikers. And I know their rights and the laws. My question is: Do they?
Nicole Arnet is a Columbia resident.