The American Automobile Association's latest commentary on cycling says that "a major issue is that many bicyclists feel they are not respected by motorists and must fight for their place on the road." AAA continues:
- Did you know bicyclists can ride on all roads, except where restricted? Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists, including the right to ride in the traffic lane.
- It is illegal and unsafe for bicyclists to ride against (or facing) traffic. Bicyclists should ride on the road, and must ride in the same direction as traffic.
- Motorists must maintain at least three feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist.
- When a road is too narrow for cars and bikes to ride safely side by side, bicycles should take the travel lane, which means riding in or near the center of the lane
The AAA post also links to a memo by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that discusses the divergent expectations that cyclists and drivers have when they see a yellow diamond shaped "[bicycle symbol] "Share the Road" sign:
- Bicyclists need to stay off the roadway and ride on the sidewalk where they belong.
- If bicyclists want respect, they need to show respect and follow the rules of the road.
- Bicycles are vehicles – just like cars, motorcycles and trucks. I have the right to ride on the road.
- The "Share the Road" sign means it’s okay for me to ride on roads. Vehicles are supposed to make room for me.
These articles come on the heels of a heavily criticized blog post by DOT Secretary Ray Lahood announcing a collaboration between NHTSA and AAA on National Bike Safety Month, which ignored most key points of safe cycling while recycling old canards. Apparently they listened to the feedback posted on the DOT web site.
(Jim Titus is a member of WABA's Board of Directors from Prince Georges County. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the official view of WABA.)