Road safety a two-way street
A common sight on Coweta County roads on most weekend mornings is that of brightly-dressed bicyclists pedaling their way across our county’s beautiful landscapes, their bodies hunched forward and heads down as they power their way along the asphalt.
It takes a special breed to wake up early on his or her off day and sweat out several hours under the baking sun, chased by over-protective dogs and enduring the various unpleasantries - like smelly roadkill and impatient motorists.
Many of us fall into the latter category.
To protect bicyclists, laws have been made that provide them equal rights to the road. They often like to remind the non-bicycling world: “Same Rights, Same Roads, Same Rules.”
Among several rules, motorists are advised by the Georgia Department of Transportation to allow at least 3 feet between your vehicle and the bicycle when passing, do not speed ahead and cut a cyclist off as you’re turning right, and do not toot your horn when passing. It also advises motorists to “be patient and wait until it is safe to pass.”
But there’s the rub.
Too often, we’ve witnessed scenarios that include bicycle groups that are as long as 30 riders on curvy roads. Though the law limits no more than two riding abreast, there’s is no set rule in place for bicyclists riding in a row. Instead, it’s a judgment call on safety, a judgment call that’s often left to a preoccupied and thirsty bicyclist who’s enjoying his morning ride vs. a motorist who’s trying to get from Point A to Point B.
We know of one motorist who recently got behind an “epic” row of bicyclists on Buddy West Road. After several minutes of following them anywhere from 5 to 20 mph, he finally approached a straightaway where he felt it was safe to pass. As he sped up, the lead cyclist turned left far ahead. The motorist was forced to a complete stop on the wrong side of the road for several more moments as subsequent cyclists refused to break the chain and turned left. As there were vehicles approaching from the opposite direction, this was not a safe sequence for anyone.
In the future, we think it’s important that a specific law is created that establishes a limit on the number of bicyclists who travel in line together. Though this complaint certainly doesn’t apply to all bicyclists, making the road safe should not be a judgment call by anyone who zealously champions the “Same Rights, Same Roads” slogan while chugging away at a mere 5 mph.
And let’s all remember - both motorists and bicyclists - that road safety is a two-way street.