R. Tolman: Law needs to be changed

This is in response to Donna Spaulding's letter (Oct. 25).

Laws sometimes need to change, and the law regarding on which side of the road people ride bicycles, I believe, is one of them. What cars are supposed to do is irrelevant in this phone and texting world.

Recently, my husband was walking behind my granddaughter as she was riding her bike. Neither of them would be alive today if my husband had been walking with traffic. The driver of a large truck veered toward them — the driver had dropped his phone and was diving for it and almost killed them.

That could easily have been any bike rider.

I never walk or ride my bike with traffic. I'm a law-abiding person but I want to live to get back home.

On the road where I walk and ride my bike, it is an every-day occurrence that a car will cross into the bike lane. I want a fighting chance to make it out alive.

It's time for a law change. In the meantime, I am breaking that one.

In an ideal world, I believe Spaulding is correct and I do appreciate her research; however, an update in the law is necessary to keep up with the unfortunate changes in driver behavior. It honestly seems today that drivers do everything except drive safely.

Randi Tolman, Lewiston

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MARK GRAVEL's picture

I agree with the comments of

I agree with the comments of most respondents. Adding to their points, one must also consider cars entering a main street. Take for example turning left on to a main street from the right side of the road. A driver is more focused on traffic to his or her left since they have to cross over into incoming traffic. The driver pays little attention to the side of the road to his or her right. Any bicyclist going against traffic is hard to see in these situations.

David Rossi's picture

Randi, you're wrong.

Except for the times when a driver is not in his lane it is safer for everyone in bicycles are on the right. Those incidents are the exception, not the norm. When a distracted driver leaves his lane it creates a dangerous situation whether there is a bike or not. As a driver I stay behind bikes until it is safe to pass. When a bike is going against traffic that can't be done. If I come around a curve or crest a hill and there is a bike coming toward me there is very litle time to react and brake. When the bicyclist is riding with traffic there is much more time to react. I have had too many close calls with bicycles that were in the wrong lane when I rounded a corner. One of those times I drove my truck into a ditch to avoid two bicyclists. Too many bicyclists, especially on back roads, seem to forget that a car or truck might be coming around the next curve. If the bikes are on the right edge of the road the drivers have more time to avoid them and more options on where to go to avoid them.

More to the point, I think

More to the point, I think too many bicyclists forget the immutable Law of Deadweight Advantage. Which is to say, in a fight between a light and maneuverable bicycle and a heavy and less maneuverable car/truck, the car will win the battle and the bike will be flat. As it is, a cyclist on a road without sufficient shoulders or bike lanes are taking the risk into their own hands.

it is for this very reason that on the seas, even though sail power has right of way over motorized power in similar sized vessles, common sense dictates that when it is a sailboat versus a tanker or Navy/cruise ship, the ship has right of way based purely on the fact that the sailboat can get out of the way much more easily than the ship. Any sailor who chooses to ignore this will find themselves, if they are lucky, swimming home.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

The correct term to use is

The correct term to use is inertia, which is the resistance of any physical object to any change in motion - also known as Newton's first law of motion.

Bob Woodbury's picture


You understand the law. The driver of an automobile has more options available than a person on a bike. Riding a bike into traffic does just that - rides INTO traffic. An automobile driver will have little or no options. Ride with traffic. You'll be much safer.


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