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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
It’s hectic out there
This a letter to all absent-minded road users on Bainbridge Island.
To those (pedal) bikers who insist on riding in the auto lane, even when there is a paved bike lane available (like on Lynnwood Center Road): The law does not give you the right-of-way. It says who must yield. Are you willing to bet your life that a motorist bearing down on you is always going to yield?
To the biker speeding south down Madison Avenue who sailed right through the stop sign at Wyatt and very nearly wiped himself out on the side of my car: Aside from the fact that you are supposed to observe stop signs just like a motor vehicle, you are playing Russian roulette and gonna lose one of these days. Remember, you and your bike together are a dead weight of at least 100 pounds.
To bikers who ride two and three abreast, also in the auto lane and with traffic: Yes, the motorist behind you should yield, but you could end up dead. And then there is the matter of simple courtesy for motorists who also have the right to use the road but cannot safely pass you.
To two- and three-abreast bikers without any high-visibility gear on the shoulder of Highway 305: You must have a death wish.
To the equestrian set: I know you like to look “country” as you ride your horse, but decked out in dark clothes astride a dark horse on the side of the road can make you all but invisible. Try a reflective jacket and/or LED light on the back of your helmet.
To the mom I recently saw walking with traffic with her twins in a dual, side-by-side stroller around a tight curve on Baker Hill Road: I suggest you consider facing traffic or better yet go to one of the island’s many parks. I walk my grandson in Battle Point Park and it is perfect for a baby stroller.
To the lady stopped with her bike in the middle of the road on a sharp (blind) curve on Bucklin Hill Road talking with a guy: This is a really bad place to carry on a conversation.
To all bikers, runners and walkers: Wear reflective gear and/or LED flashing lights rather dark camouflage-like clothing. And get off the road when you hear or see traffic.
To runners and walkers wearing headphones: See above, and remember it is often your hearing that’s your first warning of some teen or drunk bearing down at high speed.
To those motorists who have run me off the road when I am walking: I know that sometimes it’s annoying having to slow down for someone afoot on “your” road.
But there are narrow roads where there is no place for me to jump. And then there are the “perfect storm” situations where two oncoming cars, a couple of bikers and yours truly all reach precisely the same point at the same instant.
To all island motorists: On a long-ago summer job I was once a traffic signalmen with a highway repair crew in Illinois, where there was no speed limit in those days (the 1950s). I could see cars coming a long ways off, I would begin waving my SLOW sign and they’d slow down from maybe 90 or 100 to only 60 and blow past me, scaring the daylights out of me. Point is, on B.I., if you are going even 20 or 30, and you clip a bike or pedestrian, you could severely injure if not kill that person.
Rules of the road
Drivers are too careful
Bainbridge Island has a lot of very courteous and good drivers. I have made my share of bad moves while driving and hold no long-term upsets with anyone when it comes to driving safely.
We all need to pay attention while we are driving and follow the “Rules of the Road” as detailed in the Washington Drivers Guide (www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/guide.html).
One area some folks on Bainbridge Island seem to be over-courteous is at stop signs. In part, according to the rules, when you come to a stop sign, “you must wait until crossing vehicles and pedestrians have cleared and pull forward only when it is safe.”
We are all responsible to yield to avoid an accident, but please do not disregard the normal flow of traffic to be courteous. I cannot count the number of times I have been waiting at a stop sign for traffic to clear an intersection where cross traffic does not have a stop sign.
In the situations I have experienced, I have come to a stop sign, there are no pedestrians and the cross traffic has no stop sign so they have the right of way.
Then, all of a sudden, a vehicle that has the right of way stops dead in its tracks to let me out. I am expecting the vehicles that have the right of way to cross my path and keep moving or make a turn; I am not expecting the vehicle to come to a dead stop.
When the drivers do what they think is being courteous, it actually messes up the normal flow of traffic.
By being over-courteous this action endangers pedestrians, the driver who stops suddenly but has the right of way and passengers in the vehicle with them. It’s also different for other vehicles approaching the intersection as well as me as I attempt to monitor traffic and pull out into a clear opening in traffic.
Drivers, bicyclist and pedestrians, please follow the rules of the road.
Bicyclists, please light your selves up like Christmas trees to let drivers know you are there; the better drivers see you the safer you are.
Pedestrians, please, wear light or reflective clothing and please walk against traffic so drivers see you and you see approaching vehicles.
None of us want to cause or be involved in an accident. If we all follow the rules of the road, we will all make it home safely.
Olympus Beach Road