Driver’s manual 101 – how to use a road when I see a cyclist

Dear drivers out there, but mainly US drivers. We’ve been on the road for 3,5 months and would like to tell you something.

1. If it’s two lane road, you see a cyclist and there’s no other car next to you, be so mindful and use the inner lane. It’s not fun to be passed by at 60 mph within 0.5 meter.

2. If you really have to use that huge (stupid, non-ecological, nasty – fill the gap accordingly) truck or RV, be aware of your side mirrors that stick out like two antennas and it’s not necessary to be tickled by them.

3. You’ve got brakes (the other pedal next to gas) – use them! To squeeze between a cyclist and a car coming from opposite direction, might be fun for you, but not so much for us.

4. You’ve got headlights – at dusk, dawn, in fog or rain, or anytime really while we’re at it, they are invaluable piece of your car equipment, so we can actually see you coming from behind.

5. It’s not a good idea to honk at the cyclist, as there’s no “honk” Morse code to tell us if you like us on the road or not. Use thumbs up, wave or blink your lights, we appreciate that much more than jump on the saddle every time you honk from behind.

6. Don’t use your windscreen washers when passing a cyclist. We may look dirty and dusty, but don’t need this extra shower.

7. Go back to the driving school, if you don’t understand the sign of a bicycle + share the road. It’s surprising, yes, but even in the US some people use bicycle as means of transport.

8. If it’s windy, raining, any other disgusting weather,  give us even more space when overtaking. We might be thrown into your track by a sudden wind gust or showered by water from your tires, thank you very much!

9. Expect us on the road! We are classified “road users” as you are, unbelievable but a bike is not a kids toy you throw in a basement when you buy your first car.

10. And the most important one: when you see a cyclist, imagine it’s your child, best friend, parent or partner riding that bike. We really hope you don’t hate these people or we’re in trouble :).

We cycled in many European countries, commuted by bike in London and now cycled through British Columbia and Alberta in Canada and Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California in the US. USA is a beautiful and variable country but many drivers are completely unaware of the cyclist presence on the road. Sometimes we feel unsafe. Sometimes we feel pissed off. Sometimes we feel sad. The trouble is there are not many designated cycle paths off road.

We don’t prefer to be there with you, guys with huge horse power under the engine hood and huge ego. But there’s no other option so let’s make this a pleasant experience for everybody. We are both drivers and are able to see it from the other side as well (though we sold the car before this trip, yooohaaaa). We try not to bother you too much. Do the same please!

With all of the above said, we still have to say that large majority of drivers are actually driving well and the journey has been an absolute blast so far! For the rest we like to believe, they don’t do it on purpose, they are just unaware of all the points we’ve written down. And if they read this, they’ll realise it and next time they encounter a cyclist on the road, their approach will be different.

Have a good and safe ride wherever you’re heading!

Follow Luba Lapsanska:

Older woman, 33 years old, experienced. She stopped being a doctor and started being a traveller. She likes animals more than people because they don't lie. She also likes looking at the the world through the viewfinder of her camera.

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