Tag Archives: bicycle law

Biking Into 2020

Bicycle safety is not a new topic. 

But we’re entering a new year (and decade). Alert — and worried — “06880” reader Angela Ryan sends these thoughts. As we turn the calendar page, let’s pledge new behaviors on our roads too.

Angela writes:

My husband came home from work today shaking. This has happened several times a year for the past 10 years.

He commutes by bike to the train, for his job in New York.

He is a conscientious rider. He stops at lights and stop signs, and uses hand signals. He is very visible, with lights on the front and back of his bike.

Yet he is repeatedly harassed by drivers. Vehicles speed past him at aggressive speed because he rides between parked cars and the lane of traffic.

Drivers shout obscenities at him, and honk because they have to yield to him on a turn. Vehicles race past him approaching the light in front of Dunkin’ Donuts at the end of the Cribari Bridge, just to be stopped when the light turns read.

He is doing nothing wrong. In fact, he is helping the town and environment by riding his bike. He is freeing up space at the railroad parking lot for another commuter to use.

I wish that commuters (and bikers) would remember basic rules of the road:

1. Bicycles have a right to be on the road.
2. Bikers must be visible to drivers, and use hand signals to communicate their intentions.
3. Bikers must stop at stop signs and stop lights, just like drivers.
4. Drivers must allow 3 feet when passing bikers. They cannot pass a biker and make a right turn unless it is safe for the biker.
5. Bikers must drive on the right side of the road (except for certain circumstances).
6. Bikers are allowed to ride two abreast, but not more.
7. A “vulnerable user law” states that people who drive a car and use reasonable care, but still cause the death or injury of a vulnerable user (like a biker) can be fined.
8. There is no room to pass a biker on the Cribar Bridge. So there is no need to yell obscenities at my husband if he rides in the middle of the lane. He has nowhere else to go.

I know people are passionate about whether or not we should make biking easier in Westport. All I can say is that the gains communities see in expanding biking far outweigh what they lose.

Although I would be happy to see biking expanded in Westport for the greater good of us all, this is not why I am writing. I just ask that drivers be reasonable and patient to riders, especially those who adhere to all the rules of the road.

They have as much right to be on the road as you.

Police Step Up Bike Traffic Enforcement. Resident Sees A Larger Issue.

It’s not quite Times Square. But certain parts of Westport — Hillspoint Road and South Compo from Elvira Mae’s to the Minute Man, say — attract a wide variety of folks.

Walkers, joggers, people with strollers and/or dogs, bicyclists, motorcyclists, drivers — all enjoy the beautiful, relaxing scenery.

And all battle for limited territory: roads, shoulders, sidewalks.

Beautiful — and not much room.

On Friday, the Westport Police Department — acting on “a number of complaints related to cyclists using town roads recklessly, with little to no regard for posted traffic control signage and other rules of the road” — announced a bicycle traffic enforcement campaign.

Officers — concentrated in and around Compo Beach — will be on the lookout for cyclists who blow through stop signs, fail to ride single file in the direction of traffic, or don’t use hand signals.

The scene yesterday, at Soundview Avenue by Hillspoint Road.

The stepped-up enforcement is not anti-biker, the department says. Rather, it’s to “educate and ensure the safety of cyclists, motorists and pedestrians alike while all must share our roads.”

A Compo Beach resident applauded the campaign. He’s tired of trying to enjoy the beauty of the area, only to have “a 10-person bike torpedo zoom through at twice the speed limit, not stopping at signs and crosswalks.”

Not Westport. But to some people, it feels like this.

However, he adds, cyclists should not bear all the blame.

“The bigger and sadder issue is the underlying anger and hate. Bikers are afraid of cars. Walkers are afraid of bikers. And on it goes,” he says.

“Everyone comes from fear and anger, rather than the gratefulness of walking or riding near our spectacular beach. In the short term, the town will address the danger that exists. But in the longer term, how do we as a society address the fear and anger that this issue is simply a symptom of?”

After being on the receiving end of rudeness from cyclists — and scared by them — he says he tried to put himself in their shoes.

He realized how much they fear biking next to an SUV driver preoccupied with his or her cellphone (which the Police Department also addresses).

His own sons love to ride. “I can’t default to the easy ‘bikers are wrong,'” the Compo area resident says. “So I see this as, short term, let’s enforce the road rules to make people safe.

“Longer term, let’s figure out how we can become more tolerant and accepting of others. Let’s be more grateful, and less grumpy.”

3 Feet: It’s The Law!

New road signs appeared recently on Greens Farms Road:

The little yellow rectangle reminds everyone — if they can read it — that there must be 3 feet of space between drivers and bicyclists.

Alert reader Lawrence Zlatkin — who took the photo, and sent it in — asks, “Will Westport drivers heed its warning?”

That’s a good question.

An equally good one: Will bikers?