I don't like to revisit a topic so soon, but H3006, the new Bicycle Safety Law, has compelled me to expand on "No Room for Hiking or Biking" from July 23.
I wrote about safe walking and bike-riding areas for people who want to be active. I still stand behind that and support those who choose biking for exercise, transportation or both. That being said, I feel the need to speak out for motorists, too.
I've gotten the impression that some cyclists are interpreting the law as a win against drivers, and that's a bad attitude to take.
Of course, there are aggressive drivers who purposely endanger cyclists. These are usually the same jerks that speed, tailgate, and constantly change lanes, endangering everyone on the road.
My concern is for the average, law-abiding, good driver. It's terrifying to be behind the wheel and suddenly come up over a hill or around a bend and find yourself having to make a split-second decision between coming dangerously close to the cyclist on your right, or veering too far left and risking a head-on collision. The fact is, without bike lanes, cyclists simply don't belong on many roads, and they need to be responsible when choosing where to ride.
The new law says motorists are required to keep a safe distance between their car and cyclists, but that distance is unspecified. What if the cyclist is riding erratically, weaving in and out of traffic and darting across the road?
H3006 mentions a law that has existed in South Carolina all along: Cyclists are not allowed to ride more than two abreast on public roads. If you've driven Hwy. 521 on a weekend morning, you know the cyclists are not obeying this one.
The scary part is that cyclists are being told to get a tag number, call the police and file a criminal complaint against a motorist who they feel has buzzed or harassed them. Which law protects a driver or car owner who is falsely accused? Are cyclists required to wear identifying signs on their backs so a driver can call the police and report them when they go through red lights, fail to indicate their intention to turn or refuse to ride in bicycle lanes?
Being smaller doesn't automatically make you an innocent victim. Everyone has to play fair or nobody wins.