As I was biking home from work yesterday, a car was trying to pass me within the lane, and the driver rolled down the window to tell me to “share the road.” It struck me as ironic that a driver would co-opt a bikers message with such panache. Sharing the road is not something I want to do with most cars, yet we use it as a rallying cry. In fact, at the moment the driver made an awkward lurching attempt to pass, I drifted into the middle of the lane TO OWN IT and not to SHARE IT. The incident reminded me how difficult it is to promote biking without alienating drivers, and how little education is provided for bikers and drivers on how to ride in multi-modal traffic.
Here is my attempt at a few rules-of-the-road for defensive biking.
1) assume the worst case scenario from every car
2) obey the same laws that cars do:
2a. stop at stop signs and proceed through 4-way stops in order;
2b. don’t run red lights;
2c. signal your intentions;
2d. don’t pass other vehicles within the same lane
2e. bike with traffic, not against it
3) when approaching an intersection, take the middle of the lane to prevent sideswipes
4) don’t let driver road rage infect you; just being on a bike can lower stress levels and induce smiles
5) use lights and reflective clothing at night
6) ride with a friend and take the whole lane
7) be friendly with your fellow bikers and drivers at stop lights (maybe this is a Southern thing?)