Sharing the Road

I can’t believe I forgot to tell y’all about my bike ride last Saturday, the one that almost got me killed! Or, at minimum, a nasty loss of skin and perhaps some broken bones. Maybe a concussion, if my helmet had flown off.

Riding a bicycle on the streets of Memphis is a risky prospect, at best. There are very few bike lanes in the city proper and those that exist in the bedroom communities are generally on residential streets, not the main roads. Combining that with ignorant drivers (and a few renegade riders) is a disaster waiting to happen. And it almost happened to ME!

A few weeks ago, I discovered a way to get to the greenbelt (you remember, the path where my hip broke) from my house by traveling mostly residential streets. I have to cross only two congested streets and a railroad track. Should be do-able, right? Especially on a quiet and breezy Saturday morning.

I made it to the middle of the first street (two miles from my house) before a van pulled in front of me. I had the green (of course), but I slowed to let it pass and then made eye contact with the driver of the other car waiting to turn and continued forward.

Yep, you guessed it. She turned right toward me and stepped on it. I slammed on my brakes (thank you, Shimano!) and stopped just in the nick of time. She never even slowed down.

Idiot! (That’s what I mouthed at her, but I don’t think it fazed her.)

Unfortunately, I got stopped, but my backpack didn’t, and the poor guy in the car behind me, waiting patiently for me to go so he could turn behind me, had to wait a little longer while I rescued my pack. That was embarrassing.

I’m sure everyone here knows how to share the road with cyclists, but just in case you’d like a refresher, check out this handy reference sheet to ensure you’re doing all you can to avoid squishing a bicycle and it’s rider. (There may be a quiz later.)

If you’re a rider, here’s an article to remind you of your responsibilities. (Again, a quiz is possible.) Also, you can check out this great chart for handling specific situations.

By the way, I’ve added a category to my Amazon store for bike accessories, most of which are safety features. Sure, it would be great if you shopped there, but to be honest, I’d rather see folks support their local bike shops!

In the end, all was well. Except for the headwind I encountered when I turned south to make the trip home, but I can’t blame the Idiot! for that. The total ride was less than I’d hoped (14 miles), but given the hills and the headwind, it was enough to earn me this minor splurge for lunch:

peanut butter and banana wrap

Peanut butter, banana, & honey wrap from Tropical Smoothie Cafe

This was super tasty (after I let most of the honey drip out–will definitely ask for honey on the side for quantity control next time), and I do believe that was the best orange I’ve ever eaten.

And that is my public service announcement (complete with narrative drama) for the week!

Are cyclists safe in your area? Do pedestrians fare any better?

Remember to share the road!

18 thoughts on “Sharing the Road

  1. Ugh Cammy! So glad no harm came to you. I have had too many close calls from people yapping on cell phones that made me hit my brakes so hard I popped off the bike (they never noticed they almost hit me), to those that actually look me in the eye when they cut me off or pull out in front of me. We have some wonderful paths around here, but the main roads with a bike lane can be dangerous, as are just some of the other roads.

    It is so incredibly vulnerable to be on a bike in a road with cars. I try to obey all the laws and ride safely, but you can never ever trust a driver. And you will never win against a driver, either.

  2. OMG I can’t believe you went for a bike ride in Memphis. That’s something I’ve always been terrified to do. A lot of my friends do it and a few have been clipped and knocked off the road. Way too scary.

  3. The hubs almost got hit by a woman who had turned to talk to her dog!
    I know it’s bad but unless there’s a bike lane we ride on the sidewalk, but mainly we ride on the trails!

  4. Yikes! A very similar thing happened to me many years ago, only the driver hit me and knocked me and my bike all over the roadway. He, the driver, didn’t stop. But fortunately other drivers did stop and blocked the traffic while I was collecting myself, bike and gear. I wasn’t hurt badly… fortunately no broken bones. But I was definitely shook up and afraid of riding for some time after that. So, from one who’s been there, thanks for your public service here. I’m very, very relieved that you didn’t actually get hit.

    BTW, when I took the motorcycle driver’s training, I recall that the instructor made a big point of saying that “making eye contact with a driver” is not sufficient. He said, we (the cycle drivers) see the car/truck driver’s eyes but that does not guarantee they see ours. I believe him!

  5. That was an eventful ride for sure. Where I live we have bike lanes on the main streets and a lot of bike paths through out the city. I try to avoid the streets, I think drivers are too distracted and not paying attention to the bike lane.

    It sounds like you did everything right but still had such a terrible experience. Glad you are okay!

  6. Glad to hear you were not hurt. I am new to riding my bike and do not know all the rules as of yet and found the links very helpful.

    I agree with Tami. Drivers just get too distracted and I prefer the bike trails. Luv it when a rider comes behind me and says “to the left.”


  7. We’re pretty lucky in Melbourne with lots of bike paths and bike lanes, but you’ve still got to beware of bad drivers. I think one good tip, when riding on a road that doesn’t have a bike lane, is to be a little bit aggressive and actually occupy the lane, especially when turning. I think if you try to stay off to the side too many drivers will try and squeeze past you, whereas if you “own your lane” they have to give way.

  8. Yowza! Living in Des Moines, I have learned to watch carefully for cyclists hither and yon. This is a bike-crazy area, and the streets (and sidewalks) are often overrun with people biking. I can certainly see where it would be a potentially hazardous endeavor. Perhaps that is why I opt for the recumbent. :) I am happy to hear that no permanent damage was done, and that you are still happy and healthy.

  9. Cammy, I’m so glad you’re safe. Thank you for this post. I read every word and every link. This is timely info for me as we set off for your bike weekend tomorrow. Take care.

  10. I am so glad you wrote this! I have started drafting similar public service announcements in my head on countless bike rides. Car drivers are oblivious. One of my pet peeves is drivers who turn right and only look left first. I think that many just don’t realize what they are doing. Sigh. I much prefer riding on paths. Glad you are okay:)

  11. THANK YOU for posting this! You should be safe if you’re both the CAR or the person on the BIKE! I was riding my bike in college once and somebody else, on their bike, was talking on their cell phone, didn’t see me, and SLAMMED in to me. I fell off my bike, skidded on the concrete, and had bruises on my stomach, legs, face, and hands. The bruise on my leg was the size of a slice of pizza (yeah, it was HUGE, covered my entire inner thigh). It was pretty horrible to say the least….and…I still am too scared to get back on a bike.

  12. I would love to start bike riding at some point soon, but I’ve often thought it’s just too traffic-y here. You’re a bold and brave woman. Glad no harm came to you!

  13. I have the same issues here. I have to go on busy streets to get to the protected paths, so I find I don’t ride my bike as often as i would like.

    My son and husband ride on busy streets a lot and I am always hearing scary stories of inattentive drivers. I wish people could know the fear people like us live with and always be on the alert, stay OFF THE PHONE and share the roads.

  14. PB & banana… mmmmmmmmmmmm!

    I’m too scared to bike here. Mainly because 1) there are heaps of hills and I’m quite sure my legs would give out and I’d get stranded and 2) vehicles have the right of way here. I’ve almost been run over a few times when I’m walking because cars expect you to pay attention to them and get out of their way. I can’t imagine trying to do all that while on a bike!

    Glad you didn’t get squished!

  15. I’m glad you were paying attention and stopped before the IDIOT knocked you down to the pavement. It’s too scary riding the city streets. When I was younger and must more daring I would ride the 4 miles into Boston but after too many close calls I gave it up and started taking the train again. Now most of my riding is done in VT where the drivers are much more courteous and less likely to be yapping on their cell phones since the cell service up there stinks.

    Be careful out there. Happy riding!

    Hope you’re enjoy the long weekend!

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