A plea to drivers: Don't harass cyclists

Last modified: Thursday, September 13, 2012

To the editor:

To those of you who feel comfortable screaming obscenities and nasty directives to cyclists riding safely on Pioneer Valley roads, I say this:

Please don't. In a few minutes, I'll be heading back to the emergency room where my husband is being cared for with thankfully not serious injuries.

But I shudder at what could have been. He's a safe cyclist, rides with traffic well on the side of the road and rarely two-abreast (though it's legal on Massachusetts roads) except on some of our beautiful, less-traveled country roads and always wears a helmet.

In this instance, his helmet saved him, as it does in so many cases just like this. (Always wear a helmet.)

Accidents happen. But when you're riding along, minding your own business out of the way of traffic and someone screams or honks loudly at you, it's startling - you instinctually turn your head or are jarred. It is in that instant that the worst can happen.

In the past week, my friends and I, also avid fans of recreational cycling, have been screamed at, buzzed by within a few feet of our bikes (always by those going well over the speed limit) and honked long and loudly at simply for effect.

In all cases we were on the side, giving plenty of room, with no cars coming in the other direction. We were lucky enough to be on roads where we had a little give and could react without losing our balance or being forced into a ditch. But they were also roads with little traffic, perfect for biking and country drives.

Sometimes we need to use the more traveled thoroughfares to get to the more quiet roads - and always take extra precautions to be safe, as does my husband. Ironically, the area of Route 9 where he crashed is also a stretch where there are regular "Share the Road" signs with bikes on them.

So please, the next time you see a cyclist on the road give a little bit of a berth - assuming it's safe to do so - and keep your cursing, honking and screaming to yourself.

Jeanne Barron



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