Beware Of Bicyclists. And Bicyclists: Beware!

Our long winter of  nor’easters is over (we hope). Spring is here. Up pop daffodils. Dandelions. And bicyclists.

Westporters are not always great at sharing roadways. An alert — and upset — “06880” reader writes:

My pet peeve is bicyclists in town and their road manners.

Today a guy headed north on Hillspoint towards the old Positano’s and Elviras. As I approached at a distance I briefly tapped my horn. When I came around him I was completely in the other lane, making sure I was more than 3 feet away.

I made a full stop at the sign. The cyclist blasted by me on the right without any attempt at stopping.

I hit the horn to express my displeasure. He offered a 1-finger salute as he weaved around the pedestrians, and ignored the Cadillac trying to turn into Old Mill. Here’s the video:

 

Westport Police are aware of the issue. They say: “Westport is here for everyone to enjoy. Let’s share the road and be courteous so cyclists, pedestrians and motorists can make it safely to their destinations.”

They advise bicyclists:

  • Ride where you are expected to be seen. Travel in the same direction as traffic. Signal and look over your shoulder before changing lanes or turning.
  • Riding more than 2 abreast is against the law, except in designated bike lanes. Those riding 2 abreast cannot impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.
  • Wear equipment to make you more visible to others, like bright and reflective clothing. Outfit your bicycle with reflectors, a white front light and red rear light.
  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Tuck and tie your shoe laces and pant legs so they don’t get caught in your bike chain.
  • Obey all traffic rules and signs. Always give proper hand signals.
  • Always ride with the traffic — as close as possible to the right side of the road.
  • Ride in designated bike lanes when present.
  • Be sure the roadway is clear before entering.
  • Yield right of way to pedestrians.
  • Pass pedestrians and other bicyclists with care by first announcing “on your left” or “passing on your left,” or use a bell.
  • Slow down and look for cars backing out of driveways or turning.

Westport roads sometimes seem like this.

26 responses to “Beware Of Bicyclists. And Bicyclists: Beware!

  1. Biker should not need you to tap the horn. Horn is reserved for special occasions and didn’t seem warranted in the first instance described. That said, biker surely needs to be more conscientious regarding stop signs, pedestrians, and use of his digits! In this tale of two horns, the same tone is being asked to communicate two different messages (from the driver’s perspective) but likely the biker interpreted both horns the way the driver intended the second.

  2. John L. Epifanio

    As a cyclist, a car horn can be unsettling. It could mean that the driver doesn’t have full control of their vehicle or a lack of respect for a human being on a bike versus a car (no winner there). My attitude is share the road and appreciate a bike lane when there is one. Frankly, with texting drivers, I am more vigilant than ever.

  3. Bike clinics for all ages to learn this invaluable information will make this town safer.

  4. Do I understand this correctly? The person driving was filming with an iPhone while honking a horn at the cyclist? I thought the Westport Police were cracking down on folks driving while using their phones?

    • Dash Cam

    • Could be a dash cam

      • Doubt it. Sounds like Dan was driving alone with his phone…

        • Elise, sounds like you’re having a bad day. First of all, it’s clear that this is not my story; it came from a reader. Second of all, as 2 readers noted, it’s obviously a dash cam. No way could an iPhone record that clearly and steadily. Drive safely!

          • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

            Dan, methinks you’re overreacting to an overreaction. But, you’re entitled. As has been said it’s you’re blog. keep up the good work.

            • As I said, I was not sure how this was filmed. That’s why it was a question.

              I am a driver, cyclist and pedestrian. But I do not cycle in Westport: there are too many distracted drivers (as the police have told us). I only cycle in Weston, Redding, and Litchfield. As for walking, I prefer to hike in the Newman Poses Preserve, Trout Brook, Devils Den, and Huntington. Again, there are too many distracted drivers locally.

  5. I stopped ride bikes a long time ago because I became increasingly conscious of the danger to which I was exposing myself. I know many people who are passionate about their cycling, but this passion unfortunately often translates into a suicidal sense of entitlement on crowded roads, as evidenced by the “saluting” fellow in the video.

    • Arline Gertzoff

      The most accurate comment.Try driving on Valley Forge in Weston on a Sat Four abreast cycling out to the reservoir I try not to beep but if they are also wearing ear plugs it’s a challenge.Some cyclists think its s country road with no cars.A bitmore caution by drivers and cyclists is needed so we can all enjoy

  6. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    They’re an annoyance at times for sure but crappy drivers trump crappy cyclists every day and twice on Sunday.

  7. 9 on 0oppp00p00000000000p000000000p000p00000000p0000p00pppppppppoo000∅∅090000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 on oooiio0000poop0lolpo00ppoo00o0
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  8. Hanne Jeppesen

    I’m from Denmark I grew up riding a bike, wrote a bike until I came to the US (Westport) at age 22. I lived in the country, but did ride my bike in smaller cities (10.000 to 30.000). I now live in California and I have a bike, I’m fortunate I live 2 blocks from hike and bike trails. If I want to bike other areas, I put my bike on the car rack and drive to trails. As far as I can see here in the San Francisco Bay Area, and in the City of San Francisco, both bicyclist and drivers of cars, need a lesson in how to interact safely and politely. Having said that many cyclist comes of as arrogant and don’t think traffic signs is meant for cyclist. When I drive to work (close to the Stanford Campus) there is bike trails close to a busy road, many times when I need to turn right, I have to stop because the cyclist does not, this makes me nervous, because the cars behind are going fairly fast and it puts me in danger of being rear ended. Seems to me the cyclist should consider this, but most don’t

  9. For me, the most telling part of the story is where the bicyclist ran through the stop sign without pause. I am willing to be he is also adamant about his 3 feet of space too.

    I spent years on a bike as my only means of transportation (in Boulder) where they had rather progressive laws (for the time) awarding bikes full rights to the road – but you had to obey all traffic laws, like stopping for stop signs. And the bicyclists did just that.

    For some reason, adult bike riders in CT seem to have missed that “obey all traffic laws” part. Until they consistently do so, they have a very weak position from which to demand protection of the traffic laws (3 feet, etc ). It is rare indeed to see a bike rider stop for a stop sign, and often it seems stopping for a stop light is too much to ask.

  10. Timely article. Just a reminder though – while no rude cyclist should be excused for bad behavior, more often than not drivers are unaware that cyclists have the right of way. They can’t see behind them, do not possess turn signals and are highly exposed to the road (no airbags!). So yes – some cyclists are jerks but in my experience drivers are oblivious to the fact that cyclists do, in fact, own the road and they must yield to them. I commutes to work for about a year on a bicycle and 99% of the time I had no issues. But he other 1% I literally faced drivers who were so irritated that they had to drive around me that they would try to drive me off the road. This just happened to me on a warm Sunday a few weeks ago and when I followed the person driving the car into the strip mall where she parked, she told me that she had no idea that she was obligated to provide cyclists any room or yield (there was no yelling – just a conversation). When we moved to westport 20 years ago I thought it would be like the little town that I grew up in – where kids used their bikes as transportation. But not here. We have no bike lanes and no parent would dare let their kids out on our streets alone despite all of the beautiful country and shoreline we possess. Cyclists make our community more livable and are very appealing to non residents who see our town as having access to great outdoor activities.

  11. I too am bothered by the actions of that bicyclist, but… how come no one is critical of the driver for blowing past the stop sign by that little shack at the entrance to the parking lot? It’s very clear in the video…

  12. I think that stop sign is for motorists to get clearance from the Parks & Rec personnel during the summer time hours, just like the stop sign at the main entrance to Compo Beach. Unstaffed, those signs are ignored by all. :^) The Old Mill stop seems to have a “one way” sign on it, too. Maybe that’s why it’s there off season.

  13. Yo dashcam man: Since there was no car waiting at or approaching the Compo Hill stop sign, the cyclist did not infringe on anyone’s right of way, or pose any danger of a collision. You, however, could have caused an accident by distracting the cyclist with your unnecessary horn blast. CT Driver’s Manual says not to use horn to “warn other drivers of an error.”

    • William Strittmatter

      Out of curiosity, what part of “The same rules that apply to motorists apply to cyclists!” (http://www.ct.gov/dot/cwp/view.asp?a=2314&q=438854) isn’t clear? If a driver didn’t see anyone else coming at the stop sign, they are free to ignore it like the cyclist did? Dashcam person should have just driven right through themselves per the same reasoning? I suppose that would have avoided the whole bird flipping thing…

      On the other hand, tapping of the horn by “well intentioned” drivers is a real issue. A couple of years ago I was out walking the dog and saw a driver come up behind an older man riding rather slowly (and correctly on the far right side of the road). Driver decided to “tap the horn”, presumably to warn she was going to pass him. The honk startled the hell out of the old man who jerked the handlebars to the side in reaction and proceeded to go flying. Luckily there was a doctor among the many passerbys that ran to help (including me and the honking driver who stopped when she saw what happened). Blood on leg, blood on face, but minor damage overall though lucky he was wearing helmet as he was a bit dazed.

      If you think honking is helping, it isn’t. Please stop doing that.

      On the other, other hand, if the cyclist in this case was previously exhibiting the post stop sign riding behavior (i.e. swerving and riding in middle of the road – which are also against CT cycling rules), a honk to warn of passing may have been warranted. Too bad we don’t have earlier dashcam footage.

      • Agree that it’s wrong for cyclists to ignore stop signs, even when it’s clear that there’s no danger in doing so. But Dashcam Man needs to understand there are lots of cyclists who do it, and he is not a traffic cop. He should only use his horn to warn of danger, not cause it.

  14. Don L. Bergmann

    I add only one point, cyclists are not supposed to ride on sidewalks. I know that is an issue for many youngsters and their parents along busy roadways and I do not tell a truly young person not to ride on the sidewalk.. I do tell them to be careful they do not hit someone. Most of this is about good manners and civility.
    Don Bergmann

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