[OPINION] Drivers, Bikers, Joggers, Strollers: Be Careful!

Peter Blau is a marketing consultant. He grew up in Westport, lives in Weston, and bikes often. He writes:

I’ve been out cycling a lot recently. So have lots of other people. And way more pedestrians too, than before COVID.

Trouble is, traffic is back with a vengeance now that retail and recreation is reopening. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets killed or seriously hurt. Here are some of the most dangerous things I see:

Drivers approach a biker, pedestrian or even a pedestrian/stroller duo, and swerve across the yellow line without slowing down. Sometimes they’re actually accelerating to “make it” before the oncoming car passes. I have seen near misses, and fear that someday one of these drivers will swerve back into his lane and kill whoever is walking or cycling by.

Pedestrians who walk well into the roadway, with their back to car and cycle traffic, sometimes while distracted by operating their mobile device. Or pedestrians who use the road when there’s a sidewalk available.

That was the case in a near-miss between my bike and a jogger in the road on Hillspoint just north of the beach. The guy yelled at me to “watch out!”” even though I could not swerve away from him, because a car was passing. My only choice was to brake, but he could have easily moved onto the sidewalk, or the grassy verge in between.

Group cyclists riding 2 or more abreast so they can converse more easily. This prompts unnecessarily wide swerving by cars. When there’s lots of oncoming traffic, it forces drivers to move at a snail’s pace, sometimes provoking angry motorists into an aggressive driving maneuver.

Now that COVID is less of a worry around here, we all need to focus on sharing the road safely. Remember: Let’s be careful out there!

36 responses to “[OPINION] Drivers, Bikers, Joggers, Strollers: Be Careful!

  1. To the cyclist: yes many times I have been the almost victim of cars crossing the solid line and almost hitting me head on. Numerous times I have had to drive on the shoulder or come to a stop to avoid these idiots. Compo Rd south is especially dangerous since drivers think it’s a highway and drive 55 mph. Never have I seen the police give tickets for this.? On the flip side I have see many cyclists run stop signs, ride 3 abreast and act like the rules don’t apply to them. You too have a responsibility to cycle safely and many of you don’t. Remember you won’t win if and when a 3 k lb car hits you. Then it’s to late to assign blame. Be safe !

  2. Bill Boyd SHS '66

    Good points… I see poor decisions every day by drivers, runners, pedestrians and cyclists. Just following the basic rules would eliminate 95% of the risks. (Pet peeve cyclists riding on wrong side of the road).

  3. I agree!

    I ride six days a week, from Sherwood Mill Pond to Calf Pasture Beach and back via Cedar Point, Long Shore and through South Beach in Compo. I ride at 7:00am, and there are even a lot a folks out at that hour, walking jogging and riding.

    I try to stay as far right as possible to keep myself as far from cars as possible thereby giving them a wide lane. Pedestrians age often in the bike lane on lower South Compo and Hills Point. Some are there instead of the sidewalk attempt to give space and social distance. Still, it then forces me to curve out of the bike lane into the lane of traffic. This becomes dangerous.

    I agree that there’s need for caution out there! Let’s all share the Road: Safely & Respectfully!

    >

  4. This is timely. Rather than social distancing themselves into the street, I’d like to see pedestrians around Compo actually wearing masks! Also, I often wonder whether most people realize that there is a correct side of the street on which to walk: the LEFT! (And you’ve mentioned it before, but walkers/joggers and cyclists don’t belong on the road through Longshore at all.)

  5. Eileen Belmont

    Adding to Peter Blau’s comments: Cyclists, do not think that we drivers, even when we are on the lookout for you, are able to easily see you. Wearing brightly colored shirts or reflective material would help a lot but more important is having a blinking red light on the rear of your bicycle. Please make it an active decision to be noticed by drivers!!

    • Agree. This is especially an issue with teenagers. Dark clothing, no lights, and rarely a helmet. Parents, please take note!

  6. Dorothy Robertshaw

    Great article I agree with everything he said 👍the worst is the people avoiding other people on the walkways and going into the street to social distance … Westport is doing such a great job making all of these sidewalks people stay on the sidewalk and leave the bike lanes for the bikers

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  7. People walking or jogging do so against traffic. Bike riders ride with traffic and never on the sidewalk. Cyclists are supposed to observe all traffic rules, stop signs, signal turns, no turn on red. Few do and scoot across intersections, especially on the Post Road endangering themselves and annoying the rest of us.

  8. Thank you Peter, thank you Dan. Innumerable times, I’ve encountered drivers swerving across double yellow lines into my lane nearly causing a head-on collision.

    People, wait until it’s safe to pass bikers and runners. You do NOT have right of way.

    PS: as a cyclist, I appreciate the wide berth, but slow down until it’s safe to pass.

  9. many times while biking I will see pedestrians not using the sidewalk and never yield the bike lane to me. They don’t realize that I now have to put my life at risk and move into the road. What is wrong with he sidewalks for walkers??

  10. Back at the start of the shutdown, when there were blessedly few cars on the road, people started driving faster. Then faster. Sadly, those habits, especially on straightaways here in the “country” (Lyons Plains), continue. We have no sidewalks out this way, and the poorly laid chip-seal surface material can make the shoulder area uneven/dangerous where it exists at all.

    I have called and begged the Health District to work on educating the public on the concept of a SHARED roadway (in the CT statutes), but they weren’t interested. Police aren’t out here, either, so we’re mired in a “might makes right” situation, where the faster the person is moving, the more right they believe they have to shove slowpokes off to the rim of the road.

    I wish walkers/runners/bikers were given more respect — and space. Aside from the fact that they are human beings, they are not contributing to wear and tear, or to air pollution, as the drivers are.

    I know from experience that it’s really no hardship, as I tool along Westport’s roads in my air-conditioned car, to slow down for (and not scare the life out of) exercisers.

    • It always amazes me why bikers and runners and even walkers want to do so on roads like US 1 and S Compo. Why not take the path if least resistance and avoid these dangerous roads.

      • I guess it depends on one’s outlook. If you start from the proposition that roads (other than 55-m.p.h. highways) belong equally to everyone, it’s not really fair to ask David to bow to Goliath.

        • If you bothered to look S Compo has 35 mph speed limit signs. But keep cycling there and I hope one day I don’t hear the EMT sirens on their way to pick you up. If the police would ever patrol this road for speeders, maybe people would slow down making it safer for everyone! Think about this: when it comes to car vs bike.. discretion is the better part of valor.

    • I live on Lyons Plain too, and I agree cars go crazy fast. But at least it’s wide, flat and has good sight lines. Weston’s Steephill Road, however, is the opposite. And, this AM, I saw a family walking 3 abreast, with backs to traffic, distracted in conversation, and not listening for cars behind them. Recipe for disaster!

  11. We run out on the streets almost daily, since exercising indoors on a treadmill when the weather is nice is not much of a morale boost. We have had some close calls with vehicular traffic, even bicyclers. The issues are: 1) very fast drivers going at least double the speed limit (a huge issue on Dock Pond Rd), 2) drivers not understanding that they must provide at least 3 foot distance between pedestrians/bicyclers and their vehicle, 3) drivers not understanding that If there is oncoming traffic, you can’t just cross the double yellow lines and assume that oncoming traffic will yield to you. You might actually have to make a complete stop!, 4) pedestrians and bicyclers can’t still figure out the basics of which side of the road they should be on which is not only a safety concern with vehicles but its an issue for pedestrians and bicyclers who are on the correct side having their path blocked, 5) bicyclers think they don’t have to yield to signs, pedestrians, make complete stops at intersections, etc, 6) I also think its a big problem that many bicyclers and pedestrians are operating in groups of 2-3+ side-by-side. When we run, I fall back behind my running partner. We get some dirty looks like we don’t belong on the street. In summary, some basic rule following and etiquette can go a long way, increase safety, and make being outdoors on shared roadways more tolerable.

  12. Valerie Smith-Malin

    This is a very timely article as I was about to email Dan on the same subject. Drivers, please remember: Bikes are legally equal to cars! Also, consider safety first, how you would want you or your child treated, and how your life will permanently change if you hurt or kill a cyclist. Also, thank you to the motorists who allow bikes to keep going at yields/stop signs when safe.
    It’s a big deal to keep the momentum; you can’t just push a gas pedal and start-up again. Unfortunately, many drivers come dangerously close or speed-up while passing, also blowing dirt and debris. Others have nearly had head-ons because they couldn’t wait a few seconds to get around. Then some actually honk! That’s both rude and dangerous. Bikes don’t want to be in the travel lane either, but do have the right to be there. I am growing increasingly concerned that a serious or fatal accident will occur soon. As for the comment about S. Compo: Westport roads are rough, narrow, curvy and hilly. I agree, South Compo is a speedway. However, it’s actually wider, flatter and smoother than most roads, oddly making it a safer option than many.

  13. Janine Scotti

    I see people on bikes driving along the one way portion of compo beach the wrong way and they are flying. This is first illegal, second dangerous. As I told a man on his bike he was driving the wrong way on a one way street, he told me had been riding there for 30 years and to f£>k off! Nice right? Also our lovely neighbors at the beach have to put up with early morning bikers and walkers chatting away at 6am feet away from their houses. Let’s follow the rules, and be polite!

    • I wish people would observe the one way roads at Longshore. I urge pedestrians to walk against traffic there too. This has the advantage of giving us a clear view of every tee but one so we can get out of the way of balls. I just got back from my walk and noticed a woman walking with traffic on Compo S, looking only at her phone. That is very dangerous behavior.

  14. I lived in Holland for 7 months. Everyone rode a bike, Bikes obeyed traffic laws, and EVERY bike had a bell, and would warn pedestrians when coming from behind. Please bikers get a bell and use it! As a pedestrian I don’t want to be hit by a bike!
    Thanks.

  15. Walkers walk against traffic. Go single file when passing others during COVID times! No enough of that in Westport lately.
    Bikes ride with traffic and again, single file. 2-3 riders across is NOT legal – period.
    Cars be courteous to all AND do NOT swerve out into oncoming traffic – EVER. Too many serve across double yellow lines in the spirit of safety to go around bikers BUT that’s actually not safe. Slow down and wait until there’s CLEAR visibility to pass. Of course, if the bikers are single file and off to the right, we’re likely all good.
    Com’n Westporters. No one is that special!

  16. Meredith Colder

    I believe bikers HAVE to follow traffic laws. I understand it’s not easy, but in heavily traveled areas it’s so important. Today a cyclist, going way too fast on Soundview almost completely ran over my 8 year old. My family approached the crosswalk at Westport Ave and Soundview. Oncoming cars stopped to allow us to cross. Parks and Rec were right there too. My older one started across… I just happened to look back at the curve and here comes a cyclist at mock 10. Bypasses all the stopped cars yielding to the pedestrians in the cross walk. I turn around to see my 8 year old start across the street right into the path of the bike. I screamed for him to stop.. he did and the bike passed right between my two kids. The Parks and Recs people literally got out of their car. I then had to stand in the middle of the road to stop his buddy from doing the same. The cyclists are not exempt from having to sacrifice a bit.

  17. Jeff Shikowitz

    Thanks for the timely story. I would like to add another flavor to this. As a totally leisure bicycle rider (anyone who has seen me ride can attest to that) I have been very disappointed in my fellow bicyclists. Specifically when it comes to passing another bicycler. As with skiing, common courtesy calls for the person passing to identify themself to the person being passed with a simple “on your left” voice statement before you pass. During the last 2 weekends I can say that I have been passed a number of times (remember I’m a leisure rider) and only 1 other cyclist had the courtesy to identify their action. I actually thanked them and told them they were the first person to do so that the entire day and they agreed that courtesy has been lost. So fellow riders if you happen to come across someone riding or walking please give them a heads up so there aren’t any unexpected incidents. It’s the right thing to do.

    Finally for me the most dangerous spot for a bicycle vs car is on Compo Road going under the I-95 overpass. A bicyclist has no choice but to be in the road and I can’t begin to count the number of drivers who can’t wait 10 seconds for the cyclist to get up the dip and back to the side of the road before they decide to pass them. Very dangerous as there is no wiggle room there.

  18. Some observations today… walkers and joggers are afraid to use the sidewalks (where they exist) and must be out in the roadway? Like, really?

  19. Jeff Shikowitz

    …my bad on my earlier post. Meant the railroad overpass on Compo Road not 95 but anyone who is a biker would have known that…

  20. Eric Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    Bikes came before cars. The Wright Brothers started out as bike mechanics. Henry Ford was a rabid antiSemite. If people used bikes when traveling around town solo instead of gas guzzling cars the whole world would be better off. Two wheels. Two legs. Two hands. Two lazy. Coincidence? I think not!

  21. Bill Strittmatter

    Bikers need to come to grips with the fact that they/we (as a group, even if not individually) are a major part of the problem. Riding 2-3 abreast or not staying to the right is just part of it. Bikes rolling through stop signs in front of cars “to keep momentum“ when they don’t have right of way is rampant.

    Another commenter noted: “thank you to the motorists who allow bikes to keep going at yields/stop signs“ two sentences after reminding us that bikes were the legal equivalent of cars. Say what? You are supposed to stop and take your turn just like a car that you want everyone to recognize you are equivalent to.

    It has gotten to the point where many drivers assume that bikers are going to be jerks and run stop signs. Nothing is more annoying when I am riding than seeing a car at an upcoming intersection/stop sign so slowing down and stopping to let them go since they have the right of way only for them to continue to wait assuming I am just going to buzz through, often even waving me by after I have come to a complete stop because they are afraid I will just bolt in front of them even after I have stopped.

    Nice? Maybe. Result of historical experience with biker entitlement? Almost certainly.

  22. As you get in your gas guzzling range rover to go to Trader Joe’s.

  23. we need biking lanes, we need sidewalks with room for strollers, we need space from cars. we need actionable, safe solutions. this has been a long-standing problem that I’m so happy to see get attention and hopefully a real solution.

  24. Agree with most all the comments. I contacted the police two weeks ago about the problem and what could be an accident waiting to happen. We live on South Compo and see exactly the issue of more of everyone; too many cars driving too fast, more bikes, more walkers and runners, more of everything. The speed of cars is a major issue as many of your readers mentioned, with social distancing, there simply isn’t room for everyone to get out of the way.

    • Did the police respond by posting a car there for a few hours or day? They did for me. Kudos WPD. Unfortunately they dont have jurisdiction on the Norwalk side of the road where most of the issue is.

      • What is the ‘Norwalk side’ of the road as it relates to South Compo? I’m confused? Thanks Josh.

        • I’m curious too about this “Norwalk side” of Compo.
          The Norwalk Westport line is in the Saugatuck Shores area at Duck Pond Rd.
          One side is Norwalk the other Westport. The border line isn’t straight either, Minard Rd, Covlee Dr and Norport Dr have a Norwalk and Westport side.
          They’re some residents of that area of Westport that still have the (landline) telephone prefix of ‘838’ which is Norwalk but border line kinda blurred in that area so the phone company assigned ‘838’ to a small section of Saugatuck Shore residents.
          A little piece of history for ‘newbie’s’ that live down there. 😁

Commenters MUST fill out their real full names, and provide their real email addresses!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s