A more generalized version of the following appeared in the “Letters to the Editor” in the Times Union on June 4, 2011.
On May 18, bicycle riders in Albany commemorated the national “Ride of Silence” by riding to the various “ghost bikes” in the city. These white bicycles and the ride commemorate those cyclists killed in traffic.
One rider reported to me that on her way to this ride, the front wheel of her bicycle was struck by an aggressive driver at the ever-challenging Allen-Madison-Western intersection. She said another car driver attempted to chase down the offending motorist. While neither she nor her bicycle was harmed, the reality is that — regardless of fault — the bicycle rider always suffers most in any bicycle-motor vehicle collision.
My observations are twofold: that drivers in the city of Albany are generally considerate of cyclists but that many cyclists are somewhat casual in their approach to traffic laws and safety. The messages I hope to deliver are that cyclists need to be alert, careful and mindful of the law and that vehicle operators need to give a little consideration when near bicyclists.
My observation not shared with the general readership of the Times Union is that I frequently observe the following cycling offenses while riding and driving in the area:
– Riding the wrong way on a one-way street
– Riding on the left into traffic
– Not even pausing at red lights
– Not yielding to pedestrians in “zebra stripe” crossings
– Not even pausing at stop signs
– Riding on the sidewalk and frequently in an unsafe manner (e.g., too fast, dodging in and out of pedestrians)
The message need be that we, as riders, are responsible for setting the example to both cyclists and motor vehicle operators and, when on a bicycle, gently cautioning our fellow cyclists when we observe them behaving in an unconstructive fashion.