This is in response to Wendy Leighton’s column, “Current bicycle laws not realistic” (April 21), in which she finds Maine’s current bicycle laws to be lacking.

In the piece she writes that, as a cyclist, she would have “the right to potentially impede the flow of traffic …” and ” … the right to potentially cause a multiple-vehicle pileup because I have the right to make my left-hand turn.”

I find it interesting that she doesn’t seem to be concerned about the near misses caused by motorists who also have the “right” to make left turns.

If there’s a cyclist waiting to make a left turn, all the driver of a vehicle has to do is treat the cyclist just as she would any other vehicle — by safely going around.

Clearly Leighton’s near miss on Route 231 last summer was the fault of the other driver, who swerved into her lane, and not the fault of the cyclist, who was obeying the law.

If the woman in the oncoming station wagon had simply slowed down until it was safe to go around the cyclist — as state law requires — the whole incident would have been avoided.


The 3-foot law is not flawed as Leighton states. It works just fine when motorists have the common sense not to swerve into oncoming traffic because there’s a person, cyclist, or other slow-moving vehicle on their side of the road. The law works just fine when people choose to obey it.

It wouldn’t kill motorists to slow down for five or 10 seconds, and it could prevent them from killing someone else.

Instead of trying to ban cyclists (and, I assume, pedestrians, joggers, skateboarders, and so on) from secondary roads that don’t have at least a 3-foot shoulder, she and all other motorists should instead keep in mind that there is a person riding that bicycle who is momentarily holding them up — a person who has a job, and friends and a family, just like they do.

Yes, sometimes cyclists hold up motorists, but when you’re riding a bike with slick tires that are less than an inch wide, riding in the sand to get out of the way is just not an option.

What is the solution to this dilemma? It’s simple: slow down, wait until it’s safe to pass, and then do so — just like the law says.

By trying to squeeze by a cyclist to save a few seconds, a driver could seriously injure or even kill another person. It just isn’t worth it.

James L. Witherell, Lewiston

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