The joys and perils of sharing the road
Editor of the Reformer:
Although I live in Keene, N.H., I often bike in the Brattleboro and Vernon area, as well as other towns on either side of the Connecticut River.
Riding my road bike with friends a good distance in areas around New England can be challenging, being in my 60s, but it's also coupled with the joy of feeling like a kid again. I love the exercise, the feeling of accomplishment when I push myself, and the beauty of being out in the landscape, rather than in a gym; however, unlike the feeling of invincibility that comes with youth, I am well aware of the responsibilities and inherent dangers of riding on the road, made even more real by the recent news that a Charlestown, N.H., man, only in his 50s, was recently killed on a road that I had just ridden a few weeks ago. My heart goes out to his family and friends, and the young man driving the car. It made me question the wisdom of continuing to ride, but I know that I will, being cautious, aware of my surroundings and respectful of cars and trucks that command the major part of the road.
I appreciate the frustration that sharing the road can cause for drivers who may be in a hurry, but am grateful to all of those who slow down, especially around blind curves, have their lights on so that they can be seen from a distance, and smartly give bicyclists a wide berth, which may not seem necessary but, as was evident with this recent tragedy, the unexpected can happen causing a bicyclist to go off course. In the best of situations cyclists ride on a wide shoulder but that can narrow quickly, causing us to hug the white line, trying not to veer into traffic or to skid in the gravel and sand or embankment just off the shoulder. When we ride we are paying attention to traffic, but also to things like the rider in front of us who may suddenly slow down, brain jarring potholes, and broken glass.
It would be wonderful if more towns would include dedicated bike lanes in the future, to encourage more people to safely ride for pleasure and exercise, and to cut down on car traffic but until then, I hope that motorists and those who ride on the road will be alert, safe and mutually respectful, while enjoying the ride.
Gill Truslow, Keene, N.H., Sept. 30