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Being a Responsible Road User

August 17, 2014

As cyclists, we tend to look at drivers as “them” just as much as drivers look at us the same way. And that’s even if we cyclists are ourselves drivers. It’s an attitude that leads to more roadway tension for sure. And, like folks that just drive, when we’re on our bikes we too can get distracted, make poor choices, and generally make the same errors drivers that don’t ride make, and for which we tend to be hypercritical when in cyclist mode.

I made such a mistake Saturday. On my bike.

Heading home from Bastrop I was making what I thought was a protected left with the turn arrow in my favor. I was moving at a good clip, and as I crossed the apex of the turn I was fairly close to the car waiting to make its way down the road perpendicular to the one I was turning off of. As I did, I noticed the car waiting at the light was a sheriff patrol car. I didn’t think too much of it. But aparently the deputy behind the wheel saw something that I didn’t. A quick u-turn and a switch of the lights and siren and I was getting pulled over.

A traffic stop beats an accident or altercation anytime.

A traffic stop beats an accident or altercation anytime.

Of course, I immediately stopped and got off my bike. Deputy Jones asked if I knew why I was being pulled over and I said that I honestly didn’t. He then asked if I knew I was obligated to follow all the same rules of the road as if I was in a car. I told him undoubtedly. He then informed me that I made my left in front of his car against a red arrow.

Honestly, I thought the arrow was green.

Perhaps it was changing as I entered the intersection.

I was 60 or so miles into my ride. It was getting hot and I had a long headwind-filled ride home to look forward to. In all likelihood, thinking about it now, I was probably lost in thought and the light may well have turned red, or was changing to red as I entered the intersection as opposed to changing after I entered it. I had just spent just over two hours on roads where I saw nothing more than a cow. It was indeed possible that I was “zoned out.”

In any event, as the deputy correctly pointed out, I was lucky he was who he was, and not a similarly distracted, lost-in-thought road user like me. After talking with me a bit about riding in general, he gave me a warning, told me to be really careful, and sent me on my way.

The stop by the deputy brought home a good point. Enjoying the road and being vigilant about being predictable and focused on your surroundings aren’t mutually exclusive. That goes whether we’re in cars or on our bikes.

Be safe out there.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 20, 2014 1:53 am

    Well Said Daniel!

    • djcurtin permalink
      September 9, 2014 3:48 am

      Thanks for reading, Rob!

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