Sunday, September 17, 2017

Share the Road

I'm not a big fan of group bike rides but they have their purpose especially if you like: safety in numbers and some company when you ride.  They also keep you up-to-date on cycling equipment and news...that's if you're the social type and you like to talk to the people you ride with.  So, yes, I like that about group rides.  What I don't like about group rides are primarily two things: 1) cyclists that shouldn't be on the ride (and I'll get to that in a minute) and 2) cyclists that don't obey cycling laws.

Let's talk about the people that shouldn't be on a group ride.  If the group ride is designated an A ride, and you're not a true "A" rider, you're a strong B rider, expect to be dropped.  Or, if the group ride is designated a C ride, and you're a "B" rider, don't expect to push the pace of the C ride.  It's not fair to the true C riders in the group.  I see that all the time and I absolutely detest it.  If you're a B rider, then ride with the B group.  Don't try to be the macho rider of the C group.  If there are no B group rides in your area, then ride alone.  If you're overweight or out of shape you're going to be the first one dropped on a hill in any of the groups you ride in.  So, get in shape on your own by spinning on a trainer or at your local gym and get in shape and LOSE THAT WEIGHT.  I hate to say it but cycling is not a sport for fatty Patty's.  Yes, you can cycle when you're fat, but it's no fun.  Been there, done that. Also, if you're new to cycling then start out in a D group.  Hopefully, they group leader will teach you how to ride in a group (which is the topic of my next discussion).

Ok, now onto obeying cycling laws and that is sharing the road.  You see these road signs almost everywhere you go now- SHARE THE ROAD.  But, what exactly does that mean?  Does that mean as a cyclist I have every right to ride in the middle of a 45 mph speed limit road that a car does?  HELL NO!  And, I know a lot of cyclists will disagree with me on this.  They'll tell you that's exactly what sharing the road means, that cyclists can ride in the middle of the road regardless of the speed limit.  That is not true.  Here is an excerpt from Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes that contains the laws which govern the operation of vehicles on Pennsylvania roads. In Pennsylvania, a bicycle is considered a vehicle and, as such, is governed by a general set of rules (common to all vehicles) and a specific set of rules (designed for bicycles):

[3301(b). Vehicle proceeding at less than normal speed. Upon all roadways, any vehicles proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place under the conditions than existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into an alley, private road or driveway. This subsection does not apply to a driver who must necessarily drive in a lane other than the right-hand lane to continue on his intended route.]

I've put in bold font what I believe is the most important takeaway- as close as practicable to the edge of the roadway.  Just yesterday I was on a group ride on a busy road that had a 45 mph speed limit.  We were single file in a pace line moving at 20 mph.  All of a sudden I hear a car laying on the horn and buzzing less than 2 ft. from me.  I got the SUVs license plate number.  I was thinking of reporting the driver, after all, I had 20 witnesses on my ride.  Then, I come to find out that some jackass in our group was riding two abreast and hanging almost in the middle of the lane which caused the car driver to lay on his/her horn.  That's wrong- to ride two abreast on a busy road.  I told the group leader that they should have a word with that rider.  When I did, another rider that overheard me said, "that guy has been riding more than you and me combined".  I said, "that doesn't make it right, and more importantly, he's ruining it for the rest of us and giving our sport a bad name".  It's true.  There are a lot of car drivers that don't even think we cyclists should even be on the road...and that's never going to change regardless of what the law says.

Yeah, yeah, yeah...I know somebody is going to say, "but it's legal to ride two abreast in PA".  I know that and I get that.  It's also legal to drink in PA too but that doesn't mean I have to spend the rest of my life in a drunken stupor just because it's legal and I can.  There's a time and a place for everything.  And, riding two abreast on a busy highway is not safe and it's not smart.  Be smart, be courteous and learn to be respectful of others and SHARE THE ROAD.

For a .pdf copy of PA Bike here:

Power ON!  Coach Rob

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