Biking Safety and Cell Phones

Let me begin by saying that I am guilty of talking on the cell phone while driving.

No more.

In all the thousands of miles I’ve put on my bicycles over the years, the only real close calls I’ve had have been due to my own stupidity. I’ve ridden against traffic, surprising drivers with my unexpected presence; I’ve ridden at night without lights; I’ve dodged in and out of traffic at  my own great peril. But I’ve learned not to do those things. I’ve aged and mellowed, and now am quite a safe bicyclist. I’m glad I am still here to report this.

But I’ve had three close calls in the last two days, and I mean close calls. Each time I have been vigilant (which is why I’m here to write this) and each time I have been obeying proper biking protocol. What do these three near-misses have in common? You guessed. In each case, the driver was talking on her cell phone.

The ability to multi-task is a great one. But it’s not for driving. Driving is for paying attention to all the unexpected things that come your way, like drivers and bikers who are doing the unexpected thing. When you’re on your cell phone, your concentration is fragmented. I was almost taken out by three SUVs with phone-talking women at the wheel in the last two days, and let me tell you, that is an event to make you pee your pants.

What if I, or some other cyclist, was now in the hospital on life support because you were making your nail appointment on the run? I’m begging you not to take that chance.

When I’m in the car, my phone is off.

Please do the same.

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4 Comments

Filed under Bicycle, Summer

4 responses to “Biking Safety and Cell Phones

  1. capncrusty

    I’m afraid that as long as both cyclists AND motorists continue to look at bikes as toys, and not serious means of transportation, then neither rules of the road nor common sense will be observed. Sadly, therefore, the only laws that will be applied are those of physics: high speed times mass equals small mass getting wiped out upon impact with large mass.

    As for cell phones…well, I don’t have one of the damn things, and I don’t want one. I don’t need to be available 24/7, and unless you’re Barack Obama, neither does anyone else. Turn ’em off, put ’em away, and watch what you’re doing. And I don’t mean just when driving. How many times has some half-wit slammed right into your cart at Winco because he or she was yammering away, instead of paying attention to what’s going on around them?

  2. This is why I don’t bikes! Jeez, Liz, that’s scary and I’m glad you weren’t hurt. Friggin’ cell phones…

    Hey, by the way, I will be passing by on a road trip to No.Cal. in August — no dates yet — and I’ll have Luna with me because my nephews want to see her (probably more than they want to see me but that’s okay). I’ll e-mail you.

    Cheers, and thanks for you supportive presence in my life–I do appreciate it. Lisa

  3. Tory

    Hi Liz!! I stumbled across this and want to thank you SO much for this post! Three years ago, my ex-husband was almost killed by a careless teenager who was driving an SUV while talking on a cell phone. My ex is a careful and experienced cyclist, but in this case there was no way to avoid being hit. Although he managed to survive, he spent a month in a coma and many more months in rehab, and his life has been changed forever. I remember so clearly the first horrible night I took our daughter to see him in the ICU. I never again used a cell phone while driving.

    I’m glad you’re being careful out there and keeping yourself safe. Cyclists are so vulnerable on the roads. Thank you, thank you, for helping to raise driver awareness.

    Now, next time you cycle, put on some eye-watering day-glo colors and a big thick helmet — and take some big rotten tomatoes to throw at the cell phone-wielding drivers you encounter. They deserve it.

    Tory

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