TOBY THORPE COLUMN: Motorists and cyclists, how about a truce?

Published 4:12 pm Thursday, July 19, 2018

With summer in full swing, most of us tend to be on the move. And the ways we move as we head to the beach, the mountains, the lake, the ball park or even to work vary widely.
Cars, trucks, RVs, motorcycles…you name it, someone will drive it.
And that brings me to what this column is about: Bicycles and the people who ride them.

Toby Thorpe

While cyclists aren’t limited to summertime pedaling, most (me included) don’t find frostbitten cheeks and numb toes very appealing. As a result, most of us who hit the roads on human-powered two-wheelers wait until the weather warms up to do so. And late spring/early summer is prime time for cyclists to be on the road along with everyone else.
The sharing of roads by bicycles and motor vehicles, at least here in Stanly County, is usually a smooth process.
But on the occasions when one or the other fails to share, it’s not going to be a fair fight. The motor vehicle is going to win that battle 100 percent of the time.
As a cyclist, I admit there are a few among us who give all of us a bad name.
Likewise, while most motorists are courteous and considerate, there are a few who seem to take great joy in demonstrating their disdain at our mere presence on the highway.
I enjoy the exercise, fellowship and opportunity to see our state that cycling affords, and would very much like to continue to do so for years to come.
So, I’m writing this to appeal to the motorists out there, along with some good advice to my fellow cyclists in regard to sharing the road.
• Four feet clearance when passing a bicyclist is the law (and more than four is greatly appreciated).
• If you are behind a cyclist and about to pass, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a quick tap of the horn to let the pedaler know you are coming around.
• If a cyclist seems to pull out into the middle of the lane as you round a curve or top a hill, he/she’s not trying to hog the lane…they are most likely looking ahead for oncoming traffic to see if it’s safe to let you around. And once it is, they will pull over to the right side of the lane to do so.
Remember that there are several state-designated bicycle routes that follow main roads in Stanly County.
N.C. Highway 24-27 (Troy Road), U.S. Highway 52, and N.C. Highway 200 are a few primary highways that also contain bicycle routes. You should be alert for cyclists on all roads, but especially on these.
We know that sometimes it’s hard to get around us, but clogging up the roads is not why we ride.
So drop the childish stuff like squalling tires, tossing stuff out the window, comments about our ancestry and one-fingered salutes.
• Never ride without a helmet. Even a low-speed fall on asphalt will do major damage to an unprotected head.
• Ride on the right side, with traffic.
• Wear bright clothing…and a blinking tail light makes you even more visible.
• Remember that you aren’t going to win a battle with a car or truck, so don’t debate the right of way, and when in doubt, yield it.
• By law, it’s okay to ride two abreast, but if motor traffic is moderate to heavy, single file is better.
• Remember that cyclists are bound by the same traffic laws as motorists, so abide by them.
One cycling event coming up this month is the Tour de Elvis on July 28. Visit for more information.
Let’s all have a safe time on the roads.

Toby Thorpe, a contributing writer for The SNAP, enjoys cycling.