There's an interesting letter to the editor on the Statesman website today, written by a cyclist.
Here it is, in its entirety.*
Safe walking, riding paths for everyone
I’ve been commuting Downtown via bike since early June. I know that cyclists are rarely “seen” by motorists, and so I ride defensively and restrict my route to the Greenbelt path whenever possible.
Recently, I was struck by a motorist as she was turning onto Glenwood. Luckily, my injuries were limited to scrapes and bruises because my bike took the brunt of the blow and I had a helmet on — had I been a pedestrian, I’d not have been so lucky.
Though several bystanders gave accounts that the vehicle operator did not look both ways before turning, I was cited with an infraction for riding on the wrong side of the road because the sidewalk ends about 50 feet before I was struck, where it exits onto the hotly contested, pedestrian-only path through Riverside Village. Had the path been open to all users or had there been sidewalk available, I wouldn’t have been cited and the accident could have been avoided.
When will we in the Treasure Valley put our money where our mouths are and provide safe walking/riding areas for everyone? We might just lose a few pounds and gain some environmental perspective in the process.
CRYSTAL DESCHAMPS-FOGDALL, Eagle
First of all, a snide comment: How about that name?!! I'd sure hate to be Crystal Deschamps-Fogdall, every time I had to sign a check!
On to the content of Ms. Deschamps-Fodgall's (thank goodness for "copy and paste" - haha!) letter.
It sounds like maybe she was riding on the sidewalk, on the against-traffic side of the road, and when the sidewalk ended she drifted over into the breakdown lane and proceeded on up the road, against traffic. And that a motor vehicle entering from the side (likely a parking lot) turned into her path, not anticipating a cyclist approaching from the wrong-way direction.
Is that about right?
Cyclists - if you're in the wrong place, it's no wonder that you're "rarely seen." You'd be MUCH safer riding legally and predictably on the correct side of the road, in bright attire. I'm glad she wasn't severely injured, or killed!
Think about it, if you're also a motorist.
You're pulling out of a parking lot, intending to turn right into busy traffic. The traffic is coming from the left, so you look to the left, eagerly awaiting an opening. Although ideally you'd also look to the right to make absolutely sure there's no approaching hazard, it's certainly understandable that many people don't. I know I've had close calls myself, when some bonehead on a bike comes puttering up the wrong side.
I'm really glad Ms. Deschamps-Fogdall wasn't riding against traffic when another cyclist came along, riding with traffic. (I ride that stretch of Glenwood - sharing the road with cars - probably 4 times a week average. And it's always scary and maddening when somebody is bicycling straight toward me, against traffic.)
On the bright side, I'm glad the cop did his job and issued a citation. (Although that rarely happens unless an accident is involved.)
I agree with Ms. Deschamps-Fogdall that it would be really nice if the Riverside Village path was open to all users. (And I expect it will be soon... I sense "something in the air.") But you can't blame facilities, or lack thereof, for illegal and ill-advised behavior on the streets.
* NOTE - My experience has been that the Idaho Statesman web content isn't a permanent archive; the link will go stale in a few weeks. Thus, I chose to copy the letter over. I hope the folks at the Statesman wouldn't have a problem with that, since I acknowledge the source.