Notes From The Chair - May 2017

Monday, May 1, 2017

I hope you have been able to get out on your bike during the dry periods we have experienced between the interminable April showers. Before I get into the many exciting events happening during May, I want to take a few moments of your time to discuss safety. A vast majority of our members need only a quick reminder to pay attention now and then during periods of extreme euphoria. They know the rules and obey them. There are a few, however, who continually push the envelope. They blow through stop signs, ignore traffic signals, and create situations which do not reflect favorably on the cycling community.

A majority of the drivers out there on the roads lump cyclists together in a generalized group. It does not matter if you are riding on your own, in an impromptu group or as a member of a Potomac Pedaler’s ride. Your behavior will reflect on all cyclists. A month ago, I was leading one of the Georgetown Tailgate rides. We were headed back toward Georgetown on MacArthur Blvd. The traffic signal at the one lane bridge was red and there were a number of cars in a line waiting for the signal to change. I pulled up next to a cyclist on my ride who was stopped with a foot down to the right of the line of cars. There was another cyclist ahead of the cars. He remained clipped in and was moving slowly waiting for the signal to change. When it did, he sprinted across the bridge, attempting to quickly come up to speed so as to not hold up traffic. The first car in line moved to the left. The engine sounded like the pedal was to the metal. I watched, horrified because like watching a motorcade in Dallas in November 1963 or watching the White Star liner on her maiden voyage in iceberg infested waters in April 1912, I could see how this was going to play out.

The car misjudged the cyclist’s speed and was forced to move to the right as the road narrowed. They came even with the cyclist. Prudence would have dictated that, as they realized they would not pass the cyclist, they slow down. They did not. The law of physics which states that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time held up once again. The car hit the cyclist forcing him into the Jersey barrier on the right. As I sprinted to get the car’s tag number, I told the cyclist to stay put. The car stopped about a third of the way on the bridge. The bridge was closed (blocked) for the next 34 minutes while the police took statements and an ambulance carried the cyclist to the hospital. (Cyclist was discharged from the hospital with no broken bones, only road rash. The driver of the vehicle was given a ticket. I lost the rest of my group since I wanted to make sure the cyclist was alright and as a witness, I needed to give a statement to the police.)

I bring this episode up because it indicates how past behavior can influence future behavior. The couple in the car was close to or past retirement age. (Given that they are probably contemporaries of mine, I hesitate to refer to them as “elderly.”) They seemed nice enough so what caused them to feel that they had to get in front of the cyclist. Most likely, at some time in the fairly recent past, they spent some time going agonizingly slow because cyclists were hogging the road. Yes, this is conjecture on my part but it does not take a large stretch of the imagination to realize the potential truth. I have received a number of emails from communities along one of our more popular evening rides complaining about cyclists taking the entire road, being inconsiderate, blowing through stop signs, etc. Please remember that whether riding on a Club ride or on your own, your behavior and adherence to the rules of the road will reflect either favorable or unfavorable at some time in the future. Don’t add fuel to the fire. Be a positive ambassador for cycling and for the Club.

Hopefully, you have all seen emails about the great special events the Club is hosting. Please look for the return of the Spring Century to Howard County. Registration for some events is now open and stay tuned for announcements on registration openings for future events. Registration for the Backroads Century is scheduled to open 18 May. While the century is the centerpiece, we have improved the weekend offerings so plan to spend the weekend in beautiful Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Of course, these events do not run themselves. Please consider volunteering to help. By volunteering, you give back to the Club, you make the event more memorable for yourself and others and you are eligible to attend the volunteer dinner later in the year. Many volunteer opportunities do not preclude participation in the ride itself. Finally, for these Notes at least, we will be launching the new website. Please keep your eye out for announcements about the launch and please have patience with us as we iron out the inevitable bugs that will pop up despite our considerable testing.

Keep the rubber side down,
Bob B.

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