Ten years ago, an incident in Louisville sparked a national conversation about the animosity between cyclists and drivers on the roads of city streets. It was even featured in The New York Times. Dan Cooley, the bicyclist at the center story, perfectly summed up the problems facing cyclists and drivers on the streets of our city. “No one knows how to share the road,” he said.
We’ve come a long way in a decade, but Louisville is still a place where car culture reigns supreme. Creating an environment that accommodates more modes of transportation, however, benefits cyclists and drivers alike. There’s no denying that cars and drivers can do a lot more damage to bicycles and riders than vice versa, but both parties have a responsibility to act safely and in accordance with the law. Simply making the effort to behave politely can help build great relationships between the folks on four wheels and those on two.
Although Kentucky is known for crazy-complex laws—just ask me about them sometime—our bike laws are pretty straightforward. Riders need to make themselves visible with lights and noises. They can’t use a bike to transport more people than the vehicle intends, so unless you have a tandem bike, your ride should be a solo experience. And like all travellers, cyclists need to follow the rules of the road. Bicycles should always travel in the same direction as car traffic, use bike lanes when available, and never ride on the sidewalk. Conversely, pedestrians should always walk against traffic when they must use a road.
The Louisville Metro Police Department has created a handy set of safety tips for bicyclists. The majority of these fall under the category of common sense, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to give yourself a little refresher. Sadly, we don’t have all that many dedicated bike lanes and pathways, so almost any commute will require sharing the road with vehicles. If you ask me, the best advice is simple: Follow the law and don’t be a jerk.
The same goes for drivers. Four wheels and an engine don’t entitle you to free reign on the roads. In fact, as a driver, you have a duty to make the road safe for cyclists and pedestrians. The old saying goes that with great power, comes great responsibility. We may not realize it because they are an integral part of our daily life, but cars are powerful (and potentially dangerous) in the extreme. Don’t forget that when you are behind the wheel.
Drivers and cyclists need to work together to make Louisville a place where everyone feels safe and comfortable on the roads. Neither party should have a holier-than-thou attitude based on contempt for their counterparts. The number of bicycles are growing and cars aren’t going anywhere. Isn’t it much better to create an atmosphere of collaboration rather than one of confrontation?
No matter how much our culture of sharing the road improves, it’s impossible to avoid all accidents. If you’re injured in a car accident—whether you’re on four wheels, two, or none at all—call Emery Law Office at 502-771-1LAW (1529) to find out how we can help.