Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Tensions between bicyclists, drivers

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Greg Peck
Thursday, May 2, 2013

As I stated in a blog earlier this week, I’ve started bicycling the one-mile trip to work from time to time again this spring. My first such ride didn’t get off to such a great start, for more than one reason.

I typically avoid potential conflicts with motorists by carefully riding down the Court Street sidewalk between Ruger Avenue to Parker Place. I say “carefully” because I watch for the possibilities of pedestrians, or of cars backing out of driveways or zipping up to stop signs and overlapping the crosswalks I ride through at intersections.

One such crosswalk is at Court Street and Atwood Avenue, and on my first ride last Thursday, a car was approaching the stop sign as I was entering the crosswalk. I was wearing my bright-red Badger jacket, so I figured the driver couldn’t help but notice me. As I rode through the crosswalk, however, the driver seemed to keep coming quite quickly, forcing me to brake for caution. He or she—I couldn’t even tell because the windows seemed dark—even rolled so far before stopping that the car’s front bumper was in the crosswalk, all but hitting my back wheel as I passed. I stopped after reaching the far corner, turned and glared. We all but had a road rage incident.

I wondered if the person knew me and thought he or she was being funny. No matter, I was far from amused.

Comments related to my blog, which asked readers if they ever bicycle to work, gave no credit to motorists.

“No way! To many idiots out there,” one wrote.

“There are too many motorists out there that have no respect for bikes. There are bikers as well that don’t adhere to traffic laws. In my opinion, Janesville is not at all bike friendly,” wrote another.

Still another said that this is the time of year when more and more bicyclists are pedaling on country roads. “At least once a week, I see a car narrowly miss running into these bicyclists. It seems too risky and dangerous and, thus, unhealthy, so I wouldn’t even consider riding my bike to work.”

I blogged about motorcycle safety on Wednesday, and the first commenter offered similar sentiments about drivers.

I realize that bicyclists create some of their own animosity by ignoring rules of the road, in particular stop signs and, at night, the need for proper lighting. But must all bicyclists risk life and limb because of the sins of some?

Do you find Janesville—home to a growing network of bicycle paths and bike lanes built into thoroughfares in recent years—bicycle friendly or not?

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook

Last updated: 9:20 am Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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