A cool crisp morning on Foley Beach Express, and a close call for cyclist Jim Richards.“That truck, as near as I can figure, was about four inches clearance between his mirror and my shoulder. “
Cyclists will tell you, it’s not unusual. “There is always the incidents of a Coke can or a bottle zipping by your head,” says Richards.
It can be deadly. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, two percent of all fatal traffic crashes involve bicycles. “There are really two types of incidents, people being distracted and not paying attention but the real unfortunate part is there are some people out there who want to intimidate bicycle riders or even harm bicycle riders.”
Recently in Gulf Shores, Joyce Jones had the green light at an intersection and was nearly plowed over when a truck ran the light. “I never saw the car until he was just right on me and he was putting on his brakes,” she says.
Camera’s are capturing more and more of these incidents and a lot of those cameras are on the front and back of the bicycles. “It may not save me but it will tell you who to sue if somebody takes me out,” says Richards.
But according to Katie Bolton, co-owner of Pro-cycle and Triathlon in Fairhope, there is something else cyclists can do to survive a ride. And it starts before you ever get on a bike. “Educating both parties is going to be the biggest hurdle in achieving world peace.” Part of that education is being aware of the three-foot law passed by the Alabama legislature in 2015. “we have a legal right to be on the road. There is a three-foot law. At the same time, cyclists we are considered a vehicle and we also need to follow the rules of the road.”
With an estimated 66 and a half million Americans biking on a regular basis, the chances of meeting by accident are increasing. “It is a danger,” says Bolton, “but it doesn’t have to be.”
Still, cyclists say the benefits far outweigh the risk.