Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bicyclists Endanger Their Lives With Poor Driving Skills

As a motor scooterist who is required to obey all the motorized vehicle rules of the road, as well as being licensed and insured, I respect that these rules help to make driving orderly and safe. Driving motor scooters and motorcycles require many careful skills far beyond that required to drive a car. A motorcyclist must always pay attention. All of these advanced driving skills as well as the increased safety regulations are for the good and are life saving. But by comparison, bicycles which have compleltely unregulated drivers, have a huge share of poor drivers who endanger their lives through very poor driving skills and adherence to safety precautions.

Many choose to ride bicycles for health, enjoyment or for environmental reasons. But a very poor commitment to goo driving skills or basic safety precautions are daily endangering the lives of bicyclists. Yesterday, I nearly witnesed a serious accident near my home when yet another bicyclist ran a stop sign and was nearly hit by a oncoming car through the intersection. From my experience, far more than 95% of bicyclists fail to obey the basic rules of the road such as respecting stop signs or red lights. This failure to obey the basic rules of the road directly contributes to more than 500,000 injuries to bicyclists each year and more than 700 deaths. Whether bicyclists think that it is too much work to slow down and stop for a stop sign or to procede with caution through any intersection, regardless, this is a dangerous and potentially deadly poor driving practice. Police in some communities are beginning to crack down on this illegal and potentially deadly habit of most bicyclists who run stop signs or red lights with fines that can easily excede $200 or more. It is a potentially dealy practice for bicyclists not to abide by the same rules of the road as motorists do, and creates an unnecessary hazzard for motorists who begin to expect that most bicyclists will not obey the rules of road and grow to expect stupid behavior on their part on the road. This becomes a potentially deadly distraction in congested traffic.

Another big contribution to bicyclist injury or death is failure to wear a safety helmet. Although bicycle helmets are made up of lightweight materials such as foam and plastic, this is a vital thin line of protection that can mean the difference between life or death in a fall or accident. The human brain is very sensitive, and when it splashes against the skull like Jello in an accident, brain surgery to remove the resulting blood clot or to prevent brain swelling is vital to saving a life. Often simply bothering to wear a bicycle helmet can make all the difference and avoid this possible emergency brain surgery.

On Monday, I witnessed an adult female bicyclist who attempted to pass traffic in a congested dangerous intersection on the wrong side, and nearly lost her balance and fell off. She was of course not wearing helmet as well. A bicyclist with such poor driving skills is a real danger to herself, and it is only a matter of time before she causes herself a serious accident unless her driving skills soon improve.

Another big problem is bicyclists driving at night. Small battery-operated bicycle lights are hardly noticeable by many motorists. In addition, the poor general repair of many streets and roads, as well as the thin tires on bicycles make any pothole or road imperfection that could be easily seen during daylight a real danger at night. Many deadly accidents with bicyclists take place after dark. A bicycle should really only be operated during daylight hours for safety reasons. Small bicycle lights or reflectors are hardly a good line of safety at night compared to faster moving motorized vehicles, some of which may even be exceeding the legal speed limits by poorer motorists.

Many bicyclists either try to pass on the wrong side of traffic, ride the wrong way in traffic, or impede faster motorized traffic by riding too far out in traffic and endanger their lives with these dangerous and poor driving skills. Any of these poor driving skills could prove deadly if a bicyclist should run into a motorist not paying attention or who is not as highly skilled such as motorcyclists generally are.

Many bicyclists simply endanger their lives with their poor driving skills. If they cannot begin to show some improvement very soon and begin to reduce their high yearly death and injury rates, then lawmakers might have to consider some sort of licensing system which would not only improve rider safety through education, but will provide some tax revenue for the roads that bicyclists now use for free and do not contribute to the basic repair of.

Bicycling can be a fun form of transportation, or it can be dangerous and potentially deadly. If bicyclists would simply wear a helmet and follow the basic road rules, they can make a huge difference in their own safety and make their use of a bicycle less annoying to many motorists. Bicyclists need to start taking some real action to reduce their role as the worst hazzard on the road and the worst danger to themselves on the road.


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