Dr. Gridlock

Bicyclists should not hesitate to politely warn pedestrians

(Gerald Martineau/for The Washington Post)
By Robert Thomson
Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Your first letter April 22 was from a bicyclist who had hit a pedestrian. She said that she "contemplated giving a passing warning" but did not because, among other reasons, an "unnecessary bike bell ding or shout can be annoying, I'm often told." This is a dangerous point of view.

As a frequent walker on the Capital Crescent Trail, I often must contend with bikers who fail to signal when passing. I can assure you that it would be much more annoying to be hit by a bike than to have to listen to a bell. Sadly, I am often spared that annoying ring, because at least 75 percent of the bikes passing me on the trail fail to signal in any way.

I am a careful walker but I fear that a bike will hit me. Most bikes speed along the trail and have endangered me many times by squeezing between me and an oncoming bike. Others have nearly hit me because they don't want to move farther to the left when passing. Signaling keeps pedestrians safer.

My husband has biked to work almost every day for 15 years. I support bikes and the good they do for the environment, but I do not support selfish and aggressive bikers who endanger pedestrians, or bikers who fail to warn of their approach for any reason, no matter how well intentioned.

Susan Spock


DG: I hope that what came across in the letter was that we all need to look out for each other. The pathway on Memorial Bridge, where the collision occurred between the biker and jogger, is pretty wide. She said about four feet of space separated them when the jogger made a quick U-turn, and they collided.

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