Beware of the Crossing Guards

I was out cycling my errands today.  En route to my second stop, I got caught at the light of Conway Rd. and Gatlin Ave.  Ample time presented the opportunity for the crossing guard to ask me “why I didn’t want to be safer and ride on the sidewalk?”

My response was simple, “Because motorists are not looking for me or you on the sidewalk.  It is much safer for me to be out in the road and be seen than to ride the sidewalk.  They also have a lane to safely pass me thus reducing any delay that may be perceived.”

I could see that he finally understood the safest place for me to ride.  He meant well, but hopefully this helps!

12 replies
  1. Dennis
    Dennis says:

    This is not true. When many car drivers have problems seeing other car drivers on the road, then how can you say one will definately see a bike rider on the road? A bike is not built to be seen: note the slender profile when facing an oncoming cyclist and the pursuit of bike manufacturers for the least amount of mass in building bicycles. Mercedes designs the frame of their cars to buckle but not break in catastropic crashes. You can’t design a bike for that (or actually you would be wasting your time).

  2. acline
    acline says:

    Dennis… Rodney never claimed that car drivers will definitely see a bicycle rider on the road. The chances are simply greater that they will see you. Further: the danger is not behind you, it’s in front of you. About 3 percent of all car-bicycle collisions involve a car hitting a cyclist from behind. So in the lane you have a greater chance to be seen and a greater chance to see.

  3. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    Sometimes it seems that drivers see me much better than they see other motor vehicles – and it raises their blood pressure. Today I was riding in the RH lane through a school zone at the same speed as the traffic in the LH lane. A pickup behind me felt it necessary to honk. I’m sure he wouldn’t have done so if I’d been travelling at EXACTLY the same speed in a little hybrid car.

    BTW, I’ve been practicing the “Keri Wave” and the drivers see THAT very well indeed! Amazingly, they see and OBEY. Somehow they understand we’re not out here playing games & just get on by…

  4. Rodney
    Rodney says:

    Dennis– Note, I ALWAYS ride on the road with my lime green fluorescent reflective vest.

    If you can’t observe and see THAT during daylight hours (or on my night commute) then YOU not I shouldn’t be operating a motor vehicle. (i.e. distracted driver, genetic incompetence, just don’t give a rats ass, etc.)

    When honked at, I have began pointing with my index finger and then waving with all fingers open! I get waves from the motorists as they safely pass me.

    Oops, I screwed up is the look on their faces!

  5. Keri
    Keri says:

    Dennis, you’ve left comments expressing the exact same ideas here and here, and both times people have offered very reasonable responses. I’m curious, did you read the responses?

  6. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    Call me a reprobate, but if I ever conclude I HAVE to ride with a lime green fluorescent reflective vest to be safe, that’s the last time I’ll ever ride.

    I have no problems other people wearing such things, but I’ve seen no evidence they work better at preventing accidents than rabbits’ feet. They might help getting better settlements with lawyers & insurance companies, but even that’s open to question. Here in North Texas, heat rejection trumps lime green in my view.

    Ride along a route you ride often and have your wife or one of your kids drive a car to overtake you a number of times. I’ll bet she notices you a LONG way off regardless of that flashy vest. If it’s at night, she’ll see your lights a LONG way off. In my book, if they can’t see you when you’re operating safely and defensively, they shouldn’t be on the road, REGARDLESS of your fashion choices. Your wife can also advise on how she reacts to various lane positions. When it comes down to it, a cyclist is not nearly so invisible as we imagine. It’s a big reason why overtaking collisions are infrequent. There’s always the drunk or druggie, but they’re almost as likely to kill you in a car as on a bike – unless you sit at home and cower in the bathroom…

  7. rodney
    rodney says:


    You are right about it not making it safer wearing my vest. It is a personal choice. Sometimes it works and others it does not.

    Last month in the Rants section of the forum I reported that I was run off the road. Wearing the vest didn’t help me there!

    True, there should be no need for us to wear such “flashy” clothes just to guarantee our safety. Cyclists need to have the right training/cycling education and motorists need to learn to share the road with all operators.

    I won’t get into the ignorance of traffic laws that abounds with the motorists I meet.

    Folks walk away speechless when I them that it is a right to travel by bicycle/walk and it is a “privilege” to operate a motor vehicle.

    Thanks for your support and keep it in the road!

  8. JohnB
    JohnB says:

    Yes, what is the “Keri wave”? Is it related to the “Power Weave” that people on used to sarcastically accuse Serge Issakov of promoting? (Basically, always use a default position of the center of the lane, and only move over if traffic comes up behind and it’s safe to.)

    This post reminds me of a pet peeve that happens to me from time to time, which is that I’ll go through a construction zone and the flagger tries to direct me to the sidewalk. I always tell them I prefer the road and keep going.

  9. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    Check the April 9 post at 1:25 into the video. THAT is the classic “Keri Wave.” There might be another variant of the wave at 1:05 – I’m not sure about that one’s purpose…

  10. Jack B
    Jack B says:

    Vests and fluorescent clothing simply increase the chance that a motorist will see you. I tend to ride in light colored gear, or gear with patches of light coloring. Of course, I am a big guy, and present a pretty wide cross section to motorists…maybe not as big as a smart-car, but pretty darn close… 🙂

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