License to bike
Cars aren’t the problem with ‘Share the Road’
Whenever I am stuck in traffic, I always assume a wreck is the cause. As I pass by any pile-up, I empathize with the potential victims and try to keep a calm head out of respect. But recently, I realized the nearly stand still traffic was being caused by a bicycle and my blood boiled.
I will honestly say that I do not believe in sharing the road. The weight of a car can be 4,000 pounds and a car can reach speeds well over 100 mph. In contrast, the average bicycle ways about 30 pounds and an average rider can only go about 20 mph.
But somehow we have decided that the way to coexist is to travel the same roads together in harmony. However, the burden of traveling safely together ultimately depends on the driver slowing down, swerving over, etc., in an effort not to mortally wound this soul who is inching up a hill on Roswell Road during rush hour.
Often, I see a bicyclist merge into existing traffic and block a lane while holding his or her hand out impatiently for us to slow down as if we “car people” are the problem. And if you come up on a pack of riders, it is even worse since they have no problem riding side by side and taking up an entire lane.
I’ve even been shocked while waiting for a light to turn green to see bicyclists whizzing by my window navigating between cars. Apparently they don’t have to wait for the light to actually turn green if they decide that there are no cars coming.
Once, I saw a cyclist who did decide to wait on the light actually lean on my car for support until the light turned green. I fought the urge to get out and explain that I was not his pace car and taking a break on my car so that he didn’t have to clip out at the light was not part of our deal.
This arrogance increases threefold if a cyclist is “sponsored.” Apparently, a jersey that has a logo or two on it along with the aero- dynamic Tour de France helmet translates to some extra level of ownership of the asphalt. Sometimes they seem to be tempting someone to hit them.
It does not look like Atlanta will ever create enough bike paths to get cyclists off the main roads. But I do believe there is a solution that would at least make me feel like drivers and cyclists were being treated a little more fairly.
I want everyone who wants to put their bikes on the main road to get a license and a tag. That certainly isn’t a new idea. A similar effort took place last year in Oregon when a proposed ballot measure sought to create a bicycle education program for people who have not taken the Oregon driver’s test. It would also mandate more police enforcement of traffic laws for cyclists.
To pay for the new bicycle-specific testing and the enforcement, the measure would have required a fee for the endorsement test and registration via a license plate for all bicycles in Oregon.
By having license plates on the bikes, the hope is that this would lead to more responsible behavior and make it easier to hold riders accountable for their actions.
At least if I were behind a cyclist with a license plate, I would know that my extra ten minutes in traffic were the result of some effort on the part of the rider and not just a flippant disregard for all the other tax paying citizens on the road who are doing their best to dodge them.
To truly share the road, we must all share the responsibility for being in each other’s path.
Melissa Carter is also a writer for Huffington Post. She broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in Atlanta and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter