I am fully aware that biking is dangerous. Living is dangerous. Whether you are on a saddle, walking down the sidewalk, sitting in a car, or on the couch, there are inherent risks to everything. Your life can change or end in an instant. One of the fears that people have expressed about biking as a family is that your entire family could be wiped out an in instant (one even included a "just sayin'" to show their seriousness). Really? Because families never die in cars, airplanes, house fires? Do you really want to spend your entire life curled up in a teeny ball because something might kill you? Do you really want to stop and think about every little thing that could kill you? No! You're not going to stop swimming in pools, eating cesar salads, or bungee jumping, are you? Biking is actually relatively safe in most respects. It's the cars that cause the damage. If you want to keep your family safe while biking, teach the cars to drive safely and keep them accountable for their actions. I wish I could have gotten that lady's license plate and made a complaint. At least something to make her aware of the fear she caused. I was shaking for the next 2 miles; luckily by then I was on the bike trail and enjoying the car-free space.
However, this post in not to freak you out. You have to realize that I bike a lot! In over 1500 miles in the last 3 months, this is the first time in a very long time I have gotten shaken up this much. It wasn't even because she was so close to me that it was dangerous; e weren't even in imminent danger. At least I was aware that she was doing something that was unsafe and I made adjustments for that and tried to let her know to do better in the future (so I'd like to think). You can't prevent everything in life but you can stay aware and alert because, unfortunately, there are others out there who are not.
I often ponder what drivers are thinking at red lights, especially when I see them texting, fixing their hair/makeup, and eating a sandwich (often at the same time). Then, I think about what is going through my head: how much longer until my green so I can get through it before it turns red again, how close is that car coming across and will they stop or run the light, is the car in front of me really going straight or have they just forgotten their turn signal (because their hands are full of sandwich and lipstick), how quickly is the car coming up behind me and are they planning on stopping, am I in a low enough gear to get a quick start or will I have to put more force in my initial pedal strokes, is the glare preventing anyone from seeing me, how will I get around that garbage can in the bike lane without getting in the way of the cars in the lane, will the person in the parked car open their door suddenly? It's a lot to consider but not more than one should be considering at all times. Every car driver should also be a bike rider. They should know what it is like to be outside the box, know the feeling of a car passing you with such little space. Yes, I have a bike lane, no that doesn't mean you can still pass me within 6 inches. California just passed legislation requiring cars give 3' of space while passing a bike. It's amazing to me how many commenters complained about this. Is it really that difficult? if there is room, go. If not, wait. That simple!
Bikers: be aware out there, you're vulnerable. Drivers: be more aware, you're dangerous.
Thank you for reading! Keep me posted on your journey! This is truly a wonderful community to be a part of.