Stop shouting and honking at cyclists. Motorists must share Lancaster County roads. (editorial) | Our opinion


Like LNP | Dan Nephin of LancasterOnline noted in Sunday’s “Lancaster Watchdog” column that cyclist Robin Megill was shot to death on March 13 “while following a motorist who was beeping at him along Fruitville Pike.” The shot was fired when Megill opened the driver’s door while the driver was stopped at the traffic light at Delp Road. Because police said he opened the door and walked toward the vehicle, Megill, 33, of Manheim Township, was charged with disorderly conduct, a summary offense. He pleaded guilty April 22 and paid approximately $412 in fines and fees. … The shooter has not been charged. The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office said he was justified.

Regardless of your view of the confrontation between the cyclist and motorist in Manheim Township in March, we can agree that the incident should be classified as road rage.

It was a stark reminder that no matter how we travel Lancaster County’s roads – whether by bicycle, motor vehicle or buggy – many of us need to calm down. And we must learn to share these roads.

As spring gives way to summer, there will be more and more cyclists on our roads. Some will ride to get back in shape. Others will cycle to work. Some will be occasional riders, and others will be children. They have the same right to the road as those of us who operate motor vehicles.

While we firmly believe that shooting a gun is almost never the right response to a conflict, we are not going to defend the actions of the cyclist who opened the vehicle door in Manheim Township.

We will, however, advocate on behalf of the overwhelming majority of cyclists in Lancaster County who obey the rules of the road and simply want to be able to ride their bike in peace.

If you see a cyclist weaving into traffic or riding dangerously, it may be appropriate to sound your vehicle’s horn – or, if it’s a child, a few calmly spoken words of warning could work (mentioning that his grandmother would want him to). riding more safely can be effective, we have found).

But nothing excuses the taunts and threats to which local cyclists are subjected.

On a recent day, Michael Montgomery — an experienced cyclist and editorial board member — was riding in East Lampeter Township on Hartman Station Road, which has a minimal shoulder, when a car approached him and his colleague. cyclist and the motorist honked his vehicle at them. A second car arrived; a child in the front passenger seat, clearly taking cues from his parent behind the wheel, rolled down his window and yelled at the cyclists to get off the road. The occupant of a third vehicle waved politely and made room for cyclists on the road.

Why can’t we all be like the driver in the third vehicle, oblivious to the presence of cyclists nearby and happy to share the road?

Montgomery said he and his fellow cyclists regularly faced a barrage of angry shouts, rude gestures and, most blatantly, homophobic slurs. They get beeped, shouted and, dangerously, swerved. “People will yell at us to ride single file, which most of us do, but we don’t have to,” he said.

Cyclists are allowed by law to ride side by side on the roads, but with a maximum of two cyclists next to each other. And they’re generally prohibited from riding on sidewalks in business districts, so don’t yell at them to do so.

Even when roads have clearly marked paths intended to accommodate cyclists – and there remains too little such cycling infrastructure in the county – motorists get angry.

As the “Lancaster Watchdog” column explains, the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code states that any “person operating a pedalboard (legislative term for bicycle) on any roadway shall be afforded all rights and shall be subject to all duties applicable to the driver “. of a vehicle. »

Of course, the law clearly states that cyclists “must respect the highway code in force.”

There are caveats.

“One allows cyclists to ride on the shoulder in the same direction as traffic,” the Watchdog explained.

The law also states that cyclists traveling at less than normal traffic speed must ride in the right lane or “as close as possible to the curb or right edge of the roadway.”

But if the road surface is dangerous – covered in gravel, for example, or marked by potholes – cyclists can use any part of the road.

“In short,” the Watchdog noted, “cyclists should keep to the right if possible; they can – but do not have to – ride on the shoulder.

And motorists must give cyclists at least 4 feet of space when passing them and pass them “at a safe and prudent reduced speed.” Vehicles can even pass a bicycle in a no-passing zone, but this must be done carefully and with the required clearance of 4 feet.

This should all be manageable for both motorists and cyclists.

Lancaster County is a beautiful part of the world. Cyclists come from other states to enjoy its covered bridges, rail trails and rural roads. And many county residents cycle for exercise, to save gas and to reduce their environmental impact. Others ride for fun.

There are good and bad drivers; good and bad cyclists. Please drive or cycle carefully and defensively – that is, be focused and attentive, to avoid being hurt by the mistakes of others – but do not drive or cycle in a manner agressive. If tempers become heated, choose to defuse the conflict.

Our roads can accommodate us all, but there is no room for rage and hostility.

This week

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