Last week, I was traveling south on Harrowgate Road. I was in the school zone, just passing Harrowgate Elementary, when a teenager on a bicycle was riding towards me. I noticed that he was looking down and I realized that he was looking at his phone. Just as I was about to go by him, his front tire hit the side of the road and his bicycle jumped into my lane. He immediately jerked the handle bars back, maintained control, and went on by me. It could have turned out much worse, but thankfully it did not.
I try to be respectful to cyclists on the roadway. If I understand right, bicycles are supposed to travel with traffic. Bicycle riders are required to follow all appropriate traffic laws. I am still amazed that a bike lane got added to West Hundred Road, though the road did not get widened. Bicycle riders should wear a helmet always. It is important that we share the road with each other and especially with those on bicycles.
Texting or looking at a phone, while driving, has caused many vehicle accidents. In many states, it is illegal to make calls or text unless it can be done hands-free. This teenager was looking at his phone on the side of a very busy roadway. In a split second, his bicycle had veered into my lane, and there was nowhere for me to go and there was no way that I could have stopped. His quick action literally saved his life, or at least prevented him from being hurt very badly.
School zones offer plenty of issues for drivers to be aware of. Depending on the roadway, the speed limit in school zones drops to 25 or 35 MPH. On Harrowgate Rd, it drops to 35 MPH. This is still enough speed to cause serious injury to bicyclists or walkers. Even when everything goes right, traveling through school zones are precarious at best. If drivers are not paying attention, accidents with other vehicles as well as other significant problems can occur. The bottom line is that we must stay alert. You must also remain alert no matter what causes you to have to react.
I responded to bicycle riders being struck by motor vehicles during my career as a firefighter. Some of those hit by a vehicle lived and some died. We even witnessed a young child getting hit by a pickup truck in front of our engine. This child was very fortunate. She was not wearing a bicycle helmet and only received minor injuries. I also had a family member that wrecked his bike and suffered significant injuries with no motor vehicle involvement. Safety is every person’s responsibility, whether it is their safety or the safety of others. Be careful and be smart out there.