September 18, 2012

The Sept. 16 Metro article “Drivers, cyclists can learn to coexist” provided some important information. Of the very common practice of cyclists going through stop signs, it stated: “It’s illegal, and it can be annoying if they do it cavalierly.”

It certainly is that. More important, I have witnessed any number of near misses as cyclists breeze through red lights at intersections, oblivious to oncoming cars. Perhaps this dangerous practice could be effectively addressed if cyclists started receiving traffic tickets for running red lights, just as automobile drivers do. 

Dennis Siebert, Arlington

Bicycle riders should “stay off the sidewalk,” stated the article on bicyclists and motorists sharing the road. But riding on the sidewalks is, in many cases, safer than biking on the street.

Consider a recreational rider trying to commute two miles to work, to the store or to a Metro station in congested traffic. There are safety concerns associated with choosing the sidewalk in this instance, such as the importance of yielding to pedestrians and watching out for turning cars at intersections (assume the driver never sees you). However, for short commutes I have found sidewalk-riding to be much safer than by biking on the street (and putting my life in others people’s hands), especially when the route has many turns.

I do believe that in some cases biking on the road is safer than biking on sidewalks (mostly in urban areas with bike lanes). However, fast-moving traffic and a lack of bike lanes in suburbia make it, in many cases, safer to stick to the sidewalks. Until all streets have well-marked bike lanes, sidewalks will be shared by bikers and pedestrians. It’s the responsibility of both parties to be safe and reasonable.

John Egan, Oakton

The article on bicyclists and drivers didn’t mention the situation where a crowd of bicyclists — perhaps 10 or more — ride two or three abreast and block the road. This occurs frequently on Jones Mill Road in Chevy Chase and on Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park. One would think that a polite toot of the horn might get them to ride single file so that cars could pass, but that desired result rarely happens.

On a recent weekday morning at about 11, I was driving on south on Jones Mill Road behind a group of such riders. I tooted my horn, but they simply continued on. When I finally got to a straight section of the road and could pass them, just before a traffic light, they rode up next to and in front of me to again take over the road.

Sharing the road is a two-way street. I don’t mind watching out for bicyclists, but I would like them to obey the same traffic laws as I do in my automobile.

Jill Machol, Washington