I sent the following to our local newspaper this past Tuesday.
An open letter to Adrian motorists
I ride a bicycle. I ride nearly every day, for transportation, personal enjoyment, my health, and because it makes the most sense for the short distance I have to travel.
First and foremost, I want to say thanks to everyone who has waited a moment longer before pulling away from a stop because you saw me coming up the road; to everyone who has slowed down behind me so you could pass safely while giving me a wide berth; and to everyone who has offered a friendly wave or nod in acknowledgment of my presence on the road. Your kindness and consideration have not gone unnoticed.
To the few who have been in too great a rush, or too distracted, or simply too thoughtless and careless, I would like to point out not only do I have a legal right to ride on the road; I am legally obligated to do so. The sidewalk is no place for a bicycle. I do my part by making myself visible with lights and reflectors. I make sure that my bicycle is in proper working order. I try my best to travel side streets. I ride in a straight line. I follow traffic rules. I ride as far to the side of the road as is safe and reasonable.
Unfortunately, when it snows, I have no choice but to ride further into the street. You threaten my life when you pass too closely, or pull out in front of me when I have the right-of-way, or distract me by yelling rude comments from your window. I and my bicycle together weigh less than a tenth of your vehicle.
I am a human being. I have a family. Please be more mindful, decent, and respectful. Your actions reflect poorly on you and detract from our otherwise wonderful community.
Scott S. Elliott
Why did I write it? Well, for starters, those who are doing a good job at doing the right thing deserve to be acknowledged. It will encourage them to keep it up.
Secondly, during my commute that morning, I had one driver tell me to get on the sidewalk, and another pull into an intersection as I was approaching with the right-of-way. The road conditions were slick enough that had I been required to stop quickly I would not have been able to do so, and had I swerved sharply, I would have surely crashed.
Thirdly, and perhaps most of all, I hope it will increase awareness and generate conversation. A part of me is cynical, thinking (or maybe even knowing) that such a hope is idealistic and naive. But the better part of me gets the upper hand this time around, because I recognize that the very act of commuting by bicycle is an act of hope. We’ll see what happens.