I sent this letter to the editor to our local newspaper the Arizona Daily Sun a few weeks ago but never heard back from them. I resent it this morning. The main thing I was trying to accomplish was to build understanding and basic respect for the rights of bicyclists on the road. It is funny to think you have to remind people not to use their motor vehicles as instruments of intimidation or as weapons against co-citizens, but unfortunately our experience tells us much progress is yet to be made in this realm of society where violent tendencies still reign.
Letter to the Editor, Arizona Daily Sun Newspaper, Flagstaff, Arizona
When People are Around, Slow Down: Bicyclists in Consideration
Bicycling season is in full swing in Arizona’s high country, and the Arizona Governor’s Office for Highway Safety reminds us that “bicyclists may occupy any part of a lane when their safety warrants it”. Bicyclists have full legal access to the travel lane including when a bicycle lane is present. Bicyclists are trained to ride as far to the right as practical, not possible. When bicyclists are in the travel lane as part of traffic, they may be passing other cyclists or road users, avoiding deteriorated road surfaces, or navigating obstacles such as broken glass and dangerous debris. Slow down, wait to pass until it is safe to do so, and provide the recommended passing distance of at least five feet (three feet is the absolute minimum) from the furthest point of your vehicle, including mirrors and trailers, and the bicyclists’ left elbow and leg.
The Federal DOT considers “bicycling equal with other transportation modes” and bicyclists have equal access to our roads. When passing groups of bicyclists be especially prepared to wait until it is safe to pass. “By law, cyclists always have the right of first come, first served in the lane that they are occupying. Vehicles can’t legally intrude into their path, or pass them, unless it is safe to do so” according to Peace Officer Kirby Beck in Law and Order magazine. This means drivers may have to be patient and wait to pass bicyclists until the oncoming lane is completely clear of traffic, especially when passing groups of bicyclists. Never use your vehicle as a weapon to threaten, harass, intimidate or endanger the safety of your neighbors on Arizona’s beautiful roads. We need everyone on board to help Arizona actualize our full potential in welcoming and encouraging active and renewable transportation so that we may keep reaching towards our full potential as healthy citizens with a diverse array of good transportation choices. Thank you!
Mark Aasmundstad, Flagstaff Cycling member. Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists, Flagstaff Representative. Former over-the-road 18-wheeler commercial driver. Current Arizona State Time Trial, Team Time Trial, and Hill Climb Champion. USA Cycling license # 210273