Every now and then, I go over road rules, little reminders of ways we can all share the lovely roads around town a little more safely, especially since there have been a rash of accidents lately. With the weather still so welcoming, there are a lot of bicyclists and pedestrians out there, vying with drivers for space on the narrow lanes, so this seems a good time to mention a few rules that people might need a refresher on.
I know that the topic of bicyclists is a pretty loaded one, with a lot of people feeling very strongly one way or the other. But I don’t want to talk about that right now: Instead, I want to address the issue of passing bikers. I know that, as a driver, it can be aggravating to be sitting behind someone going 20 mph, whether you’re in a hurry to get that kid to soccer practice, or get home to throw dinner on the table. Or maybe that’s just me. Still, it’s really important to not go around the biker(s) unless you are absolutely certain the coast is clear in the other direction. I’ve had a number of situations recently where another driver was heading right for my front end, in their haste to pass the biker on their side of the road. It’s just a tad unnerving. So here’s the deal: Whether it’s a biker, a parent pushing a stroller, a UPS truck with it’s flashers on, or men in trees, the driving manual says you should pass, "Only when it is necessary and safe to do so. You may not exceed the speed limit when passing. If you have any doubt, do not pass.”
Of course, it also says, “Never use a breakdown lane, the shoulder of a road, or a sidewalk for passing another vehicle,” but I doubt anyone will pay attention to THAT rule.
You Have the Right…
I totally understand, and I’m sure you do too, that no matter what, pedestrians have the right of way. And if a pedestrian is in the crosswalk, the driver should make every effort to safely stop – don’t just slow down and keep rolling – until the crosswalk is clear. But pedestrians also have a responsibility to stop at the intersection and make eye contact with the driver, to make sure they’ve been seen before jauntily crossing the street. I get that if you’re walking, the law is on your side, but with today’s drivers having many more distractions right at their fingertips, who wants to take a chance against two tons of metal?
Last But Not Least
Right turn on red: This one is a personal pet peeve of mine. I love that I can make a right turn at a red light, when there’s nobody coming from the other direction and I have come to a full stop. Because, yes, that’s the criteria for being able to make that right turn on red. I can’t tell you how often some vehicle has come screaming out of the side street, desperate to take their right turn before the traffic in the other direction gets too close. The traffic that actually has a green light. People, the green light has the right of way; those of us at the red light still need to let them go, regardless of how quickly we need to get to Crosby’s to buy milk.
What are your personal pet peeves about driving around town? I’d love to know.
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