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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Dear white sedan, DFX 645:
For I believe the second time, this morning you passed me on Green Street honking aggressively and pointing emphatically at the bike path to our right.
I understand that you would like me to be on that bikepath instead of on Green STreet, where you are forced to use the (clear) left lane to pass me. (Perhaps you would simply like me to cease to exist. Thankfully, others disagree.)
I also understand that some cyclists in our town ride recklessly, disregarding safe practices and laws. They upset (and frighten) those of us who strive to ride harmoniously with the rest of automotive and pedestrian (and other) traffic. However, I don't count myself among them and I'm hoping I can convince you that just because I am on the road does not mean I'm one of them.
Do you understand that I am proceeding further west, and that the path ends where you turn right on Wright Street?
If I were to use the bicycle path, I would be getting in a right-most lane... to the *right* of a right-turn-only lane... and then proceeding straight. Any guide towards road use directs drivers (and I am a driver of a vehicle, both legally and practically) not to do this, for what I hope are obvious reasons. (When I am turning right at that intersection, I often do use the bike path - though not when it is torn up by construction or has vehicles parked on it, as is often the case.)
Places where paths and roads meet are by far the most common accident sites between bicycles and cars. "I just didn't see you!" is the common - and usually accurate - plea as we are "appearing from nowhere" as you turn right, proceeding faster than pedestrians. The "right hook" where a car turning right strikes a vehicle going straight is the m ost common of these accidents.
Thank you for passing me with ample room. While I appreciate your right to express your opinion about my whereabouts, kindly consider that while you're honking and gesticulating, you might miss something else happening on the road.
Well-designed bicycle routes can be a benefit to everyone. Sadly, the paths in CHampaign do not fit this category.

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