The June 16 article, "Front Royal police warn locals of bicycle-vehicle accidents," in the Northern Virginia Daily was quite timely as a reminder of the increased number of bicyclists on the roads as the summer begins. Sgt. Crystal Cline appropriately warns drivers to be ever watchful of children, particularly those on bikes, as "Summer is the most dangerous season..."
It was of interest to note, though, that the two recent vehicle-bike accidents mentioned involved bicyclists running into cars, not cars running into bicycles. Operators of motor vehicles generally drive under the presumption that the other driver has a license, knows the rules of the road, and obeys them by observing traffic signals, stopping at stop signs, staying within their lane and signaling their intentions to turn. Thus, there is a sense of predictability to what the other driver will do. What the article fails to bring out is that bicyclists also have a responsibility to obey those same rules of the road.
There is often in the driver's mind a complete absence of predictability as to the intentions of the bicyclists. Too many of us have seen bicyclists roll through a stop sign, fail to obey a traffic signal, swerve across lanes to make a left and ride several abreast to have any confidence that the occasional compliant bicyclist will actually observe the rules of the road.
The safe intermingling of bicycles and motor vehicles requires that all involved observe and obey the traffic laws of the commonwealth of Virginia. It is a shared and equal responsibility.
I am a bicyclist with over 51,000 miles on my bicycle and the founder of a bicycle touring company, and we provide all our riders in their tour package a copy of Virginia Rules and Regulations for Bicyclists. They are seven in number and too lengthy to include, but rule 1 sets the tone: "In Virginia a bicycle is classified as a vehicle and as such a bicycle rider is subject to all the provisions of the Virginia Motor Vehicle Code, Laws and Regulations."
Bob Flanagan, Virginia Bicycling Adventures, Strasburg