I really, really don’t want to point fingers or even make generalizations, but to be honest, it’s a miracle that I have not been involved in an accident yet.
So far I was convincedÂ that bad drivers are my worst enemies on the street. They don’t use their turn signals, slam on their breaks, can’t make up their minds where they want to go and change directions in the last minute or drive nonchalantly through a red light through an intersection with afternoon rush-hour traffic. I live on a one-way street and I have even witnessedÂ the occasional driver turning rightÂ into the one-way street against oncoming traffic. Really, I’ve seen it all. More often than I wish I had.
Even worse than drivers in the other cars though: Bicyclists.
Now, I have to make a distinction here between the ‘serious bicyclist’, who is professionally equipped and dressed in sports gear, helmet and such, and who usually knows the rules,Â and the “leisure bicyclist’, who rides a cruiser bike which in most cases is not even roadworthy. Those are the worst.
As a reminder: I come from a country where bike training was required in elementary school, where we had to pass a test to be certified as “roadworthy bicyclists” (not that anybody would ever ask you about it, but whatever – although police will stop you if you ride your bike unsafely) and where we learned how to signal correctly, how to read street signs (yes! they also apply to people on bikes!) and which side of the street to ride on.
That does NOT seem to be the case in the US.
People don’t stop for red lights, they ride on the wrong side of the street against the traffic (ha! consider riding on the sidewalk a trifle now!), they don’t give hand signals or any other indication of where they’re going and are generally unpredictable. And don’t even get me started onÂ the non-existing head- and tail-lights (which pairs up nicely, or not!, withÂ almost non-existing street lights,Â which equals “no chance whatsoeverÂ ofÂ being able to seeÂ a bicyclist at night”).
I alsoÂ find it quite the challenge to pass a person on a bike without running the risk of hitting him or being hit by him.
Maybe I am a little bit overreacting. Just maybe.Â After all, I haven’t been involved in an accident. Yet.
But even if you didn’t have the proper bike education in school (which I guess can simply not be assumed everywhere in the world), what about being a little ‘street smart’ here? Just a little.