Westport Bike Rentals
Pop Up Bike Lanes

For 7 years, I commuted from Bethel to Greenwich (before moving to California). About a year in, I realized the commute was changing me. I had become an aggressive driver, which meant I started my day with gritted teeth, gripping my steering wheel, pressing on the accelerator with an iron foot, and using a lot of foul language before 7:30 am. I complained about my commuting conduct to a family member who asked how I was doing at the new job. She, too, had commuted many years and she told me her secret to warding off road rage 100% of the time.

My relative’s advice was simple (like most solutions): let everyone in. She was right on. In the words of the late (and beloved) Prince, “Despite everything, no one can dictate who you are to other people.” I wanted a kinder commute and I had the power to do so. Guess what? I let everyone in and it worked! It really wasn’t that hard because THAT is who I wanted to be…the person who let’s you in. I had gotten caught up in the competition of Fairfield County driving and her solution was a great reminder that you always have a choice.

How does this tie in to bike riding? It depends upon how you are looking at it: as a driver or as a rider. I’d like for you to look at it both ways because you’re probably already a driver, and I am hoping that you’ll be a rider (with Westport Bike Rentals or someplace else). Become 100% responsible for your actions on the road in a car or on a bike. Do not engage in aggressive driving or riding.  Let the other driver or rider go first.

Before you read on, you may want to take this Share the Road IQ Quiz. 

 

Here’s a challenge:

As a driver, this week try to:

  • Stop for pedestrians at or in a crosswalk
  • Give riders 3 ft of clearance. This may mean that you have to wait for oncoming traffic to pass…you do not have right of way to cross over the double yellow because a rider or something else is in your lane…you have to wait your turn.
  • Slow down. I challenge you to really look at the speed limits in town as you drive this week.
  • Wave! Say thank you to the person who let’s YOU in.

As a rider, this week try to:

  • Follow all the rules of the road INCLUDING STOP SIGNS.
  • Ride on the shoulder of the road with traffic. You may be tempted to ride on sidewalks but #1 it’s illegal, and #2 it’s actually more dangerous… you are less visible, especially to drivers who are pulling out of their driveways and are not expecting you.
  • Use crosswalks for dangerous intersections, especially if you are nervous on the road. It’s okay to get off your bike on the corner and walk your bike, using crosswalks, across a busy road. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Wave! Say thank you to the person who let’s YOU in.

I think there’s room for improvement for both drivers and riders, but if all of us surrendered just a little bit, imagine. And, while we are imagining, check out what’s happening in New Haven this weekend: POP UP BIKE LANES!!! How cool is that? It’s a way to see how a protected bike lane will fit in the community. Let’s start this conversation in Westport!

 

Here’s to letting the good times roll!
Tracy
The Bike Lady

PS: If you see me on the road in the van, wave hello. I’m the one (hopefully) going the speed limit, letting people in, and stopping for pedestrians. 🙂