Drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians can take the high road to safety [Pittsburgh Post Gazette]

Bicycle riders on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.

By Annie Siebert  / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Cyclists captured Pittsburgh's attention this summer after two bicyclists were killed and one was gravely injured in hit-and-runs and another was brutally attacked. Another cyclist was injured on Tuesday after being sideswiped by a driver who fled the scene. In comments on news websites, letters to the editor, tweets and Facebook posts, Pittsburghers offered their opinions on cyclists, drivers and the rules of the road.
Some of those comments make it sound as though the world contains only two kinds of people: bicyclists and drivers.
Some criticized cyclists for zipping through stop signs or red lights and otherwise failing to follow the law. Cyclists and their advocates lamented distracted drivers and speeding cars making the roads unsafe for cyclists, motorists and pedestrians alike.
Scott Bricker, executive director of Bike Pittsburgh, said some drivers view cyclists as just another obstacle -- "the equivalent of a moving pothole."
"We're not being seen as human beings just trying to get where we're going," he said.

Pa. bike laws passed in April

• Clearance -- Drivers must pass bikes to the left and give a minimum of four feet of clearance "at a careful and prudent speed." If they cannot do so safely, they must wait to pass.
• "Right hooks" prohibited -- Drivers cannot make sudden right turns into the path of cyclists.
• Ride on the right -- Bicyclists must ride in the right lane "or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway," unless surface conditions are unsafe.
• Crossing the line -- Drivers may cross the center line when passing a cyclist if there is no oncoming traffic.

And more often than not, cyclists are also drivers.
Last year, Bike Pittsburgh sent a survey to its 1,700 members. Of the 600 who responded, 90 percent said they own and drive vehicles, meaning that they have driver's licenses, pay fees to register their vehicles and chip in for the gas tax, all of which help fund road and bridge improvements.
"The whole idea that it's us versus them is completely unfounded," Mr. Bricker said. "Most people who ride bikes also drive cars. We're multi-modal people."

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