Open Letter to Motorists From a Terrified Cyclist

February 24, 2011

in While Perched upon my Soapbox


Dear Motorist,

Last week there was unseasonably warm weather for the DC area so I decided to go cycling. I was reminded from my first experience  on the road this season that I should write you to give you some unsolicited advice. Maybe this is rude of me, but I would like to survive my cycling experiences this season, which means I need to bring a few things to your attention.

I know how busy the mornings can be for you. Getting kids ready for school; packing lunches; making and eating breakfast; and getting ready for work can be a lot to juggle in a short period of time. May I suggest you refrain from doing all of these activities simultaneously in your car? I know; it is silly of me to question your ability to multi-task, but it makes me nervous when you are applying make up, eating breakfast, and throwing things in the back seat to your kids while talking on the phone. It is especially unnerving when you swerve over the white line onto the shoulder, just inches from my front tire. I only have a few inches to possibly a foot, depending on the shoulder, in which to maneuver. That is not a lot of room.

Clearly you are not worried about the safety of you and your precious children. Why would you when you are driving a huge SUV? I just want to point out that when I am flying downhill at 30+ MPH, I only have a bike helmet for protection. I am confident that if we had a collision, you and your children would walk away. The best scenario for me would be hospitalization.

Here are a few ideas to help you plan for your day, which will also help keep cyclists safer on the road:

  • Eat breakfast at home.
  • Apply make up at home, in your car parked at work, or the company restroom.
  • Get a Bluetooth for talking in the car.
  • Sort and sign school papers at home.

Ideally you would be aware of the road and your hands would be in the “10-2” position, but that might be too much to ask at this time. Just start with these few suggestions.

On behalf of all cyclists on the road, I thank you .


The Sweetest February 24, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Ha ha! As the wife of a competitive cyclist, I can appreciate this. Plus, this is precisely why I still refuse to get a bike. The cars terrify me.
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Naked Girl in a Dress February 24, 2011 at 4:01 pm

it took me awhile to feel comfortable cycling on the road, but I got over it. Someone commented once in front of me that cyclists should stay on bike paths. That’s great for a weekend ride on your hybrid, but not if you are training for a race! I don’t know why it is so hard to just be mindful of your surroundings!

Krissy February 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Geez, you ask a lot! You want all of that done at home? When you know that this is their world and you are just a speed bump on their path to life? Okay, maybe that was a bad analogy. Be careful, woman! It’s the crazy people out there we have to worry about.

Naked Girl in a Dress February 24, 2011 at 4:03 pm

I know. How inconsiderate of me to expect drivers to actually look at the road and stay in their lane!

Random Girl February 24, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Great reminder! I have a good friend that cycles competitively and was almost taken out last year by someone not paying attention. He had 4 surgeries and spent a month in a rehab facility because of someone trying to multi-task. It happens so fast and lasts so long!
Be safe out there girlie!

Naked Girl in a Dress February 24, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Thanks Random Girl. I try to be as aware as possible and just wish drivers would do the same!

Justin February 24, 2011 at 6:50 pm

I agree with you. People don’t watch out for bikes at all.
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Naked Girl in a Dress February 24, 2011 at 8:43 pm

It can be scary riding on the road when drivers are oblivious to cyclists.

Kat February 24, 2011 at 7:07 pm

It pisses me off enough when I’m in another *car* and see people doing shit like that. It almost makes me want to hit them just to make an example to the rest of the assess that can’t get off their phones to concentrate on the bloody road!
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Libby February 24, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Can I still watch TV? Only on the belt route though.

Naked Girl in a Dress February 24, 2011 at 10:53 pm

As long as I am not on the shoulder of the road Libby!

Jules February 26, 2011 at 10:35 am

I sometimes see people reading the paper while they drive on the Interstate. DRIVES ME INSANE!

People are crazy.

Naked Girl in a Dress February 28, 2011 at 9:29 am

People ARE crazy!

Jonah Gibson February 27, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Way, way back when I used to bike everywhere (before carbon fiber frame sets that cost more than my car) a lot of motorists were actively hostile towards bicycles. I hated that, but at least they knew I was there…a lot safer when you think about it than the distracted, multi-tasking motorists of today. I’d almost rather be taken out by someone aiming for me than someone texting their friends about what color nail polish they’re wearing. Cycling magazines back in those days used to advocate carrying a length of rubber hose to smack up against the fenders of cars that came too close. I never tried that. Seemed like a good way to get killed at the time. Might work better now.
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Naked Girl in a Dress February 28, 2011 at 9:27 am

Jonah, It has become better with motorists with cycling awareness, but now drivers don’t have any awareness when driving!

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