After I pulled my car up to the stop sign at Washington Boulevard, traveling south on Fulton, I waited for the last car in the stream to pass, looked again to my left to make sure all was clear and accelerated through the intersection.
I suddenly glanced right and swerved the car as from my right came a man on a bicycle, swerving to his own right while shaking his fist and cursing at me for almost hitting him.
While he was traveling the wrong way on a one-way street, had I struck him with my car, the law or who was right or wrong wouldn’t have mattered. He might have been dead. I had neglected my own personal habit of always looking both ways at the intersection of a one-way street. Here had been the very reason why I believe that’s important.
Defensive driving is always expecting the unexpected — assuming a car or (as in this case) a bicycle will be going the wrong way on a one-way street. How many lives might be saved if everyone took that extra look the other way? How many lives might be saved if every driver assumed the coming vehicle was not going to stop at the light or stop sign as they should?
In this case, of course, it was a bicyclist who was not following the rules. All too often, especially downtown, some bicyclists ride wherever they think it is convenient, including on public sidewalks.
But I understand, too, the fear of riding in traffic, even if you are a bicycle rider following the letter of the law. I still ride my bike, mostly on country roads these days, and not all drivers are sympathetic to bicyclists.
The law includes the following:
*A person riding a bicycle upon a roadway has all the rights and duties applicable to a person who drives a vehicle.
*A bicycle may not be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped.
*Everyone riding a bicycle on the roadway must use the proper hand and arm signals to indicate when they are changing lanes or turning.
*The legal blood alcohol limit while riding a bike is the same as if driving a car, 0.08.
*A person riding a bicycle upon a roadway may not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
(Check out specific Indiana legislation online at www.in.gov/legislative/ic/2010/title9/ar21/ch11.html)
Fort Wayne has provided bicycle paths on some city streets that should help alleviate some of bicyclists’ fears of careless drivers. But bicycle safety is a two-way street, so to speak. Bicycle riders should follow the rules. But drivers need to respect bicyclists’ right to be on the roads and should take special precautions to ensure the safety of riders they encounter.
That may include taking an extra glance the other way on a one-way street, just to make sure someone isn’t breaking the law.