It happened again this past Saturday. The Bagel Ride group just finished the mad stomp west on Pink Hill Road and most riders had peeled off for home or to ride more miles. I turned south on 7 Highway and saw Jim 200 meters up the road, and not wanting to ride in alone, I buried myself to try and catch him. Just as I came up to speed, some jackass in a white Ford F250 complete with stickers, push bars, extended mirrors, and tailpipes bigger than a culvert, buzzed past me. This wasn’t the “I see the rider but can’t move over” kind of buzz. No, this was more like a “Imma teach this damn biker dude to GET OFF MY ROAD” maneuver. As the truck whisked past, his extended mirror passed within inches of my left shoulder.
Seconds after blasting past me, he was on Jim. Same thing. Only, from my perspective, it was much scarier to watch as the truck actually eased closer and closer to Jim. His right-side mirror passed within inches of Jim’s shoulder. This guy was obviously ignorant to the dangers of swerving so closely to a bicyclist. Considering the other lane was clear of traffic, his intentions were definitely more road rage than distracted driving.
As luck would have it the truck hit the next red light. I rolled up behind him and noticed that he wasn’t alone. In the truck with him was what I assume to be his family: a woman in the passenger seat and then two little ones in the back seat. Great example, d00d! I caught Jim at the same light and commented on the driver. But, as always, what’re ya gonna do???
Today, I stumbled upon a web site that’s trying to do something about this. 3feetplease.com is a grassroots bicycle advocacy that promotes bicycle safety with a very clever jersey. The bright yellow jersey reads “3 Feet Please” across the back and has sexy black warning stripes on the sides. The website also includes a map showing the 16 states that have enacted 3-foot laws, which require motorists give bicycles at least 3 feet or risk a fine. It’s quit disappointing to see how few states are addressing bicycle safety–that’s not to say that the 3-foot laws are the only way of managing the situation; but, and this is pure speculation based on nothing more than gut feel, the 30% adoption is probably a fair indicator of states that are actively trying to provide protections to cyclists. Likewise, as is being proven in Oklahoma, the 3-foot laws don’t seem to have any impact on reducing car-bicycle accidents. But, that’s another topic altogether.
That’s what I find so clever and appealing about the jersey. A law is a law and is easily ignored or forgotten. A bright yellow jersey that’s screaming “3 FEET PLEASE” in the driver’s face is a message that’s difficult to miss. It might actually work…at least with those drivers that respect others.