[M.M.X.I.V. 167] Right of way

I will fully admit that this post is not quite as rosy as some of my previous ones.  I was considering writing on Sunday, but of course the fun stuff that happened on Saturday won out for the blog post.  But, one of the things that happened on Saturday before the festival is what inspired me to write this post.

It can be tough being a cyclist on the road.  Although I ride safely, there are times where cars do not respect the Three-Foot Rule–cars must give cyclists at least three feet of clearance (and preferably more), at least in Chicagoland.  On both Saturday and Sunday, there were some people who violated this bubble when I was riding on an arterial street with a lot of room to manoeuvre (yes, I prefer the U.K. spelling of that word).  However, although the close encounter spooks me, I refuse to give in to road rage.

The part of “respect,” however, that I wanted to write about was right-of-way. The intersection that this is particularly salient is at Lee (where there are stop signs) & Sheridan (where there is a crosswalk).  Although pedestrians in the crosswalk have the right of way over vehicles (it is a state law that cars must stop for pedestrians in crosswalks), vehicles DO have the right-of-way over vehicles waiting at a stop sign on the crossing road.

Being on a bike can be the best of both worlds, and the worst of both worlds, since I am in some sense half-vehicle-half-pedestrian.  For example, on Saturday when I was in Chicago, I was in a left-turn lane near a park, and a cab tried to cut me off and yelled at me, “Use the sidewalk!”  Two things: (a) Bikes were prohibited on the sidewalk in this area, (b) I was as far over as practicable, (c) Have some patience!

At two-way-stop intersections, if a car stops on the non-stopping side for me to turn left, I feel that it is disrespect in multiple ways.  The car is disrespecting me, treating me as a full pedestrian.  But I am on the road, and obeying traffic laws (well, I will admit to violating stop signs in neighborhoods when there is no traffic, or at least doing the “Idaho stop”).

Additionally, the car is disrespecting their OWN right of way.  I do not know which is worse.  Yes, this may be justifying the letter of the law when the spirit of the law should be obeyed instead, but it is still a pet peeve of mine when cars cede their own right of way to allow me to turn left on a bike.  Another place where this has happened, and is potentially more pernicious, is at Crawford and Church in Skokie, which is an intersection with stop lights, with two lanes of oncoming traffic.  Thus, if a car going straight stops before the intersection to allow me to turn left, I will not do it, since it blinds me to the other lane.

I feel that there are many drivers who would benefit greatly in their driving skills if they had to take on the road on two wheels at some point.  I know that even though I rarely drive, the times that I do drive I am much more cognizant of the road and its hazards having ridden a bike all around.

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Today is the one-hundred and sixty-seventh day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes twenty-three weeks and six days.

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