I ride my bike everyday in and around Eugene, pedaling through traffic in the rain and fog over dimly lit streets. I look into the faces of people riding bikes and driving cars, and I see trouble in the streets.
Far too many people are using their phones and texting while driving. And judging by what I see, it is not a safe practice. According to the National Safety Council, 1.6 million accidents each year are caused by texting while driving. That’s nearly 25 percent of all accidents. At roughly 3,200 pounds, the typical car can become a giant weapon, dangerous to everything and everyone around it. All drivers should focus on driving safely.
As a person who bikes, I worry for my own safety, as well as for my family, friends and other people who bike and walk around Eugene and Springfield. I feel that anyone operating a motor vehicle should do so with the utmost respect and care for others. I beg you to create rules for yourself, your kids too (if you are a parent to new drivers), to eliminate any distractions while driving. And since I hesitate to ask others to do things that I’m not willing to do myself, I am committing to never texting in traffic. Ever.
I drive a car too and respect goes both ways. I’m amazed at how many bike riders and pedestrians don’t seem to respect other people using the streets. Whether running stop signs and traffic lights, riding without lights at night or walking out from between parked cars, people don’t seem to respect others in traffic or even the basic laws of physics. If people who ride bikes want car drivers to follow the laws, then bikers should follow the laws too. The laws are there to keep the roads safe for everyone. Expecting others to follow the laws while you ignore them is disrespectful.
Now, let me come back to the foundation of this issue. Respect is something that we all want. Respect is personal. It is an understanding that someone or something is important and should be shown consideration. Having respect for others using the streets means that you learn the laws and follow them. Respect doesn’t cost you anything to give to others, and the benefit is a safer, more comfortable environment for everyone.
Paul Adkins has been bicycling pretty seriously since he was 5. He’s worked as a bike courier, mechanic and mountain bike guide, toured the country, and traversed the length of the Alaska Range. He has four kids that grew up for six years without a car. Now the oldest is about to get her learner’s permit. Paul also teaches the GEARs Bike Safety classes to the public, offering a traffic citation diversion class for folks who get tickets for bicycling offenses. As the Senior Designer/Internet Manager at CAWOOD, Paul has helped us create engaging web sites for Organically Grown Company, Concept Systems Inc. and many others. He and his wife live in the Whiteaker neighborhood. You’ll see him riding around town on a pink road bike, stopping fully at stop signs and red lights. You can find him on Facebook.