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Letter: Respect bicycle riders while driving on road

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Marissa Pherson


Unfortunately, a well-intentioned letter to the editor by Noel Taylor (published Jan. 15) contains a few factual errors that I would like to address.

First, Mr. Taylor claims law requires cyclists to keep to the right of their lane and to ride single file. In fact, Indiana state law (IC 9-21-11-6) allows people on bicycles to ride no more than two abreast (Columbus ordinance also allows this).

Mr. Taylor states that law requires bicycles ride to the right of the lane. In fact, one may consider a person on a bicycle a slow-moving vehicle, and they are to remain as close as is safe to the shoulder, just like someone driving a harvester or horse and buggy, or even a wide load. Sometimes, if the rider deems it unsafe to be passed, they may “take the lane.” An example might be in a shoulder-less no-passing zone or in preparation for a turn.

Mr. Taylor states that people driving cars need to provide three feet passing distance. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ 2013 Indiana Driver’s Manual states, “Drivers may pass a bicyclist only when there is a safe amount of room beside the bicyclist (3 foot minimum) and when there is no danger from oncoming traffic,” but it is not explicitly required by Indiana state law.

However, this session, Indiana legislators will consider SB 0049, which “provides that it is a Class C infraction for a person driving a vehicle overtaking a bicycle to not: (1) allow at least three feet of clearance between the vehicle and the bicycle; and (2) wait to return to the original lane until the vehicle is safely clear of the bicycle.”

Lastly, I’d like to remind readers that people ride bikes for many reasons: to enjoy the beautiful scenery and wildlife, achieve fitness goals, make friends, bond with friends, family and/or significant others, get to work and more.

Regardless of the reasons, we are your neighbors, co-workers, cashiers, servers, cooks, schoolteachers, cops, doctors, paper-pushers, electricians, plumbers, farmers, ministers and business owners, and we hope you’ll treat us the same on the road as you do off the road.

 We don’t intend to upset anyone, so it upsets us when we are the target of yelling, name-calling, honking, stalking, groping, Polar Pop-throwing or extremely close passing. I know a lot of people who ride bikes, and any of them would give you the sweaty jersey off their back if you asked for it.

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