Emergency Service

Cycles And Cars: Watch Out For Each OTher!


Two-wheel season is upon us again! As the days get longer and the temperatures warmer, bicycles and motorcycles come out of winter storage, and fair-weather riders take to the highways and byways.

Cyclists (both bi- and motor-) are vulnerable creatures, compared to their brothers and sisters who choose car transportation. Those tons of steel, safety restraints and airbags provide a cocoon of security. By contrast, the only way cyclists can avoid injury or death is to avoid collisions, period.
Bicycle tire in motion, Boise, Idaho. bicycle, tire, bicycle tire, motion, movement, bike, recreation, ride, bike ride, street
Some cyclists are their own worst enemies! They ignore basic safety guidelines.

Bicyclists ride straight into oncoming traffic! Or along the sidewalk, where they are less likely to be noticed. Or they “blow through” traffic signals and stop signs, as though they have an invisible force field. They ride with no hands on the bars, or with headphones blasting tunes into their ears and muffling the sound of traffic. They wear dark clothing, and ride at night without lights or reflectors.

Motorcyclists exceed the speed limit. They weave in and out of traffic. They outride their abilities. They ride in shorts, tank tops, and flip-flops. Or wearing a “do rag” instead of a helmet.

Where are the cops when you need ‘em?!! Now and then they nab a scofflaw motorcycle rider. But they’re mostly happy to ignore law-breaking bicycle riders, unless a collision is involved.

Inattentive motorists compound the problem. Far too often, following a crash involving a cyclist and a motorist, the driver laments, “I just didn’t see him!” There are more distractions – mostly in the form of hand-held electronic gizmos – than ever before. And far too many people – who are piloting a 4000-pound lethal missile – do so as if their driving is an unpleasant distraction from the stuff they really want to pay attention to.

And once again, “law enforcement” is hardly a motivator. For every 1000 drivers who are inattentive, do you s’pose one inattentive driving ticket gets issued?

April isn’t even over yet, and we’ve already had several crashes (I refuse to call them “accidents”) that have resulted in injuries or death for bicyclists and motorcyclists, right here in beautiful Boise. In every case, somebody was doing something he or she hadn’t oughtta.

What can be done?

Bicyclists and motorcyclists need to ride smart! Know the laws and follow them. Be visible, predictable and defensive. Don’t ride like you have an invisible force field protecting you… because you don’t! Parents need to make sure their kids ride in places where they won’t be exposed to undue hazards.

It would be nice if the police would be more involved in educating and enforcing, with regards to bicyclists. But the stated position of the BPD is, “Bicycle violations are not a priority for the Department.” I don’t see that changing any time soon… but it may slowly evolve as more people use bicycles for their transportation.

What can the vast majority – those who see cyclists through their windshields – do?

PLEASE pay attention to your driving! Make sure you are operating in a safe manner. Don’t let your handheld gizmo, or your CD player, or your screaming kids in the back seat, or your Happy Meal, become a distraction. Don’t drive impaired. Don’t be the driver who laments, “I just didn’t see him!” as your victim is hauled away to the hospital or the morgue.

Let’s all make it through the summer without a smash-up!

Note: The author rides about 6000 miles per year on a bicycle in and around Boise, and another 6000 miles per year on motorcycles. He tries to always ride legally, visibly, predictably, and defensively.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. 6,000 miles a year during 8 months = 187 miles a week.

    At first, I thought this was the Guardian writing it.. then ‘ I better double check’… So NOTE, the author is Steve Hulme.

    BPD bike patrol is a terrible offender of the many of these guidelines.
    Monday I pulled up to Ada Sheriff (Eagle) talking on his cell phone… we ALL see it all the time.

    But I think cyclist have to take much responsibility for collisions. It’s like someone going into a tiger’s cage- you gotta pay attention to the TIGER. Tough to say, it was the tiger’s fault, even though it may TRULY be the DRIVER’s fault, my cycling mind is to be aware of dumb drivers, avoid bad routes, and expect the tiger wants to eat me.

  2. bikes –
    Notable ACHD put up signs to notify us the bike lane demonstration starts April 28 thru end of May.
    Is it a coincidence May is Bike Week? May in Motion and lots of events promoting cycling?

    Gee, do you think those lanes will get a lot more use then, than say, the past 2 weeks, and those #’s will be used in the final propaganda of installing permanent lanes?

  3. idahocrystal
    Apr 23, 2014, 2:08 pm

    Well said Mr. Hulme. I see it every single day – Everyone has been guilty, at one time or another, of not being fully focused on driving, including myself.

    While I appreciate the desire for some adult riders to want their freedom and a choice in whether to wear a helmet or not, (though I prefer to mitigate my own risk with protective gear) I hope that ALL parents REQUIRE the use of helmets for their kids.

    No helmet = no ride.

    Our skulls are simply not capable of protecting us from impacts at greater than walking speeds. You get one, complicated, delicate, wonderful brain that makes you – You – if you damage it, it will change you.

  4. Cops on motorcycles often ride side by side in a single lane (prohibited in the motorcycle handbook). I dropped them an email and questioned it. They responded that they do what they do and had no intention of stopping. They didn’t add “neener neener” but could have.

  5. This cannot be blamed on LE. The author noted that LE “is hardly a motivator” truer words could not be written. I have personally almost ran over a BPD bike cop who ran a red light… when I honked at him… all he could do to justify his actions was point at the BPD patch on his arm and ask if I wanted a ticket.
    Face it if we expect cops to fix anything that is wrong in this world we are putting our lives in the wrong hands. I do have a serious question, when does any PD get to decide which laws they will and will not make it a priority to enforce? Maybe we all should decide which laws will and wont be a priority to obey…

  6. No No No, I’m an arrogant bike rider who is better than all of you. And after I’m finished browbeating the employees I manage, I’m going to ride my bike in traffic in hopes of causing additional problems for all the ordinary sub par people who make my life so miserable. I’m also gonna wear all black or something which blends in really well so when blocking traffic some of you won’t see me.

    BTW: We’d have fewer injures on the road in bicycles and motorcycles were not allowed on the road. That’s the obvious solution. Any other consumer product or activity with this rate of injury or death has been eliminated. Considering these products also damage the lives of the drivers who literally can’t seen them before the crash, they should never be on the road at all.

    DO NOT EVER TELL THE COP YOU DIDN’T SEE SOMETHING/SOMEBODY. Tell them nothing, and have your lawyer explain how human vision has blind spots. The following is a link to examples of why smaller moving objects are not seen at times. Our brains lose tract of small moving targets. They are beyond our limitations. These sorts of things have been the known cause of aviation accidents resulting in equipment/procedure redesign. Why not on the roadways?

  7. Easterner: 6,000 miles a year during 8 months = 187 miles a week.

    8 months?!!? There are TWELVE months in my riding year! Those 6000-odd miles are typically spread across 360-odd days… 16-odd miles per day. Yeah, that’s about right.

    Bike lanes in Boise get much more utilization in the 8 warmest months, than in the 4 coldest months. Not everybody rides a bike 360 days per year; that’s a reality. (Are they worth it? That’s a question for the “village” to decide, for sure!)

    Zippo: We’d have fewer injures on the road in [sic] bicycles and motorcycles were not allowed on the road. That’s the obvious solution.

    If cars weren’t allowed on the road. we could eliminate THOUSANDS of motor vehicle fatalities! That’s the obvious solution!

    Of course I jest. And I hope Zippo’s not serious, that (s)he thinks our community would be a better place if only everybody who chooses a bicycle or motorcycle were instead compelled to move about in a single-occupant vehicle. Preferably a big one. And I (s)he isn’t serious, that the solution to the vehicle-size-disparity problem is to “lawyer up” and blame it on whoever you just ran over.

    Cyclists should do everything they can to be visible… beyond that, anybody who can’t see a cyclist or motorcyclist on a public roadway has no business operating a motor vehicle. Period.

  8. Bikeboy is a diehard! That’s good. Am curius what the motivation is for that- for your primary reason. I know there are many benefits, but what drives you to cycle when it’s rainy, cold and sucky when you could jump in a car?

    If you were advising the Council, on these bike lanes what would you say?

  9. Let’s face it folks when driving/biking there is one constant rule. Count the lug nuts… and this isn’t golf.. the lower score ALWAYS looses. The ultimate responsibility for your safety falls to you and you alone. It won’t you a lot of good to lay in the ICU whining it wasn’t my fault.

  10. So many demands: Time for bike registration fees. And don’t forget the $22 pollution test tax as well. It is recommended to avoid beer, beans, brats, and other food which will cause you to fail the test.

  11. Regarding bike registration fees: 35% of ACHD’s budget comes from property tax, and bikers already pay that. 32% comes from registration fees and State money. Seems to me that they are paying their fair share–especially considering that almost all register and use a car too. I can’t support an additional tax of any kind.

  12. If you have not read Bikeboy’s Blog, click his name or click here http://bikenazi.blogspot.com/ (Don’t let the name scare you off)

    I recently read a great piece on how traffic(cyclist or motorist) should practice safe travel. The principles of safe travel are:
    1. First come, first served.
    2. Drive on the right.
    3. Pass on the left.

    Road user behavior must include proper obligations and expectations that follow from the rules of safe movement (operative word: safe):

    – There is one obligation: Ensure your behavior creates a safe environment for all street/road users.
    – There is one expectation: That other road users are meeting their one obligation.

    The rest of the article is here- http://isocrates.us/bike/2013/11/the-heart-of-the-matter/

    I also ride everyday to work though I don’t put the miles in that Bikeboy does. I do it because it is easy, fast and healthy.

  13. They put it on the road they license it…end of story.. need safety inspection and mandatory classes and an endorsement just like a motor cycle.. no more special treatment for the few.

  14. I’m one who thinks bikes should have the same rules as cars. I’ve had a couple close calls with bikes running red lights when I’m making a turn in the turn lane. Then having them flip me off.
    I’m sure if I hit one one day I’ll be the one blamed.

  15. I would like to know who thought a 20 pound bike was a good idea on a road with 3000 pound plus vehicles. I realize people like to ride but they don’t belong with cars. I pass them and they ride 2-3 abreast and act like I am the one doing something wrong.

  16. Easterner: What drives you to cycle when it’s rainy, cold and sucky when you could jump in a car?

    Actually, on those kind of days I have to confess that my main motivation is… I can’t jump in a car! The Missus has a car – I make payments on it, but she drives it.

    When it’s treacherously slippery, I’ll sometimes limp up to the corner where I can catch the bus. Typically one or two days each year, I get home and pour water out of my shoes. (But it’s been years since I poured gas in the tank, so I guess it’s worth it.)

    On my advice to the ACHD, you can read what I told ’em HERE.

  17. People who drive cars and ride motorcycles not only kick in money thru property taxes… they also kick in plenty of money paying the taxes added to fuel…I am not trying to start a fight here but why the hell do these bikers fell they should get their own lane for free? I am not sure why bikeboy wants me to pay for his bike lane, I guess it’s because he only has one car… buy another… or pay your fair share for road upkeep and such.

  18. Rick, if this becomes a referendum on who pays, you’re missing the point. My guest opinion was about SAFETY, following some recent incidents that have resulted in injury or death to 2-wheel riders.

    Personally, I’d do fine without bike lanes! I’m happy to share a lane with you (I’ve been doing it every day for 28+ years), and will expect you to treat me with courtesy and respect. I’ll do the same for you… will take every conceivable measure to coexist harmoniously. Kum-ba-yah!

    If you oppose the notion of bike lanes, SURELY you don’t mind sharing “your” lane with cyclists!

    (Some people actually feel that separate bike lanes make cycling safer, and encourage people to ride a bike. If that results in less traffic congestion, less pollution, less real estate dedicated to parking cars, etc. – some people even argue that we all benefit!)

  19. Rick obviously drives a vehicle with lots of lug nuts! Probably one of them giant trucks that’s 8 feet wide, tryin’ to squeeze into a 9-foot traffic lane! (And paying lots of fuel taxes!)

    When “right to the road” is determined by vehicle size, or lug nut count, or fuel consumption… click HERE to see what I’ll be drivin’!

  20. Robert, I’m guessing that would you stopped at a red light making red turn- with your BLINKER on- after checking your right side mirror for cyclists approaching you, you make the right turn, almost clipping the biker…. right? Yeah that would be scary.

    Usually drivers are not checking your side mirror which can lead to that scary situation.

  21. You might treat drivers with courtesy and respect but the vast majority of your brethren do not. Most of those on bikes pay no attention to any of the rules of the road and will be completely obnoxious when a car goes around them. As to what I drive that was not the point of my lug nut comment, but I guess it went over your head.

  22. as to Roberts comment and easterner’s reply.. If you are in a rt turn lane the only way for to see someone in either mirror is for them to be coming up beside you…. the bike should not be coming up on the right or the left for that matter. This aint cali… side by side in a lane is a no no

  23. Foothills Rider
    Apr 24, 2014, 6:10 pm

    So Rick, how much should pedestrians kick in for their dedicated sidewalks? Do we tax handicapped citizens more for the cost of doing ADA ramps? What about audio signals – should we tax the blind differently for their provisions? Do we track usage, and tax sidewalk use accordingly? Can we opt out of sidewalk tax if we prove we never use one? Maybe issue a permit/license to be sure the are walking/running correctly, etc? You getting nitpicky obfiscates the message(s) shared by BikeBoy. I commend BikeBoy on starting a civil discussion! This is not a two-sided issue. So many here so quick to make everything either black or white.

  24. I agree it is not black and white… but I was hoping to have a logical discussion. I guess that went out the window when you want to charge people for side walks. We all already pay taxes for those. Drivers pay money in the form of licenses, tax on fuel, a tax on emissions, ect. ect. yet bike riders want to have dedicated lanes and special considerations for free. How about we make all bike riders have insurance before they put their bike on the road… everyone else the commutes on the public street has to.

  25. All I am trying to say is this… If you guys want special privileges… pay for them… I have to put out money to use the roads… you should to. It makes no sense to take driving lanes away in a place that is already congested.. just to appease a very very small amount of people…Oh and to give the mayor something to crow about.

  26. Zefareu Privatis
    Apr 25, 2014, 8:38 am

    Thank you, Bikeboy, for being reasoned and patient, even when others seem to miss the point. As a former year-round transporational cyclist in Boise, I commend your simple urge for everyone on the road (and I do mean everyone) to JUST PAY ATTENTION. Mindfulness saves lives everywhere, and perhaps nowhere more obviously that on the road. (And, as a side answer to those who wonder why a cyclist would do it in year round, I simply say: try it and find out. Rain isn’t that difficult to deal with, and my favorite times to ride were always snowy early winter mornings.)

  27. What point am I missing? I am pretty sure I am spot on.

  28. Rick, once again you have narrow scope.

    A cyclist coming up to an intersection in a bike lane is perfectly legal and highly likely. A cylist coming up to any intersection, has the proper position to on the right side of the road. I offer you the Idaho law:
    (1) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing
    shall ride as close as practicable* to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:

    fyi – the exceptions do no include riding next to Rick.

  29. Rick, please trust us all… You are not spot on.
    The point you are missing is, you have a bad attitude about sharing the road.

    From ACHD: Property taxes remain the single largest General Fund revenue of the Highway District.

    Property taxes Rick.
    Sales tax and impact fees also go into the ACHD budget.

    Pretend someone doesn’t have a car at all. They still pay their fair share to maintain our roads, and our sidewalks.
    Now the 2nd part is they ARE paying for the road and their impact is almost ZERO. They don’t make potholes, they don’t put much wear and tear on the asphalt- like you do. Hopefully, Rick you can recognize you were wrong and now appreciate being informed.

    Next, I’m gonna guess that it’s people without a clue about the law- they cry about bicycles not stopping at stop signs- that create the biggest hazard to other people on or near the road (and the people talking on their phones). They are the biggest hazard because they have a bad attitude while driving a lethal vehicle.

    Btw Rick, if I walk to work, I’m not required to have any “roadside insurance”. And you’re really gonna hate the new bike boxes… good luck. 🙂

  30. Let’s end the $$$ debate. Please read the current budget for any questions (page 5 has a nice graph) http://www.achdidaho.org/Departments/Administration/Docs/2014Budget/FY2014_budget_final.pdf

    The I didn’t see argument after a cyclist is hit, should be automatic admission of guilt. The driver in the death of Olivia Schnacker used that defense. If the sun was in here eyes, she should of been driving to the conditions, especially since Olivia and her sisters were crossing through a major crosswalk with flashing lights.

    EDITOR NOTE–Clancy, I agree. Time to shut down the debate as it has gone off course.

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