Why Courtesy Matters in "Bike Friendly Kalamazoo"

May 22, 2014

Credit openclipart.org

The members of Bike Friendly Kalamazoo have some ideas for how to make local roads safer and more inviting for cyclists.

They want to see better shoulders, signals and signs. And last week they published a proposal for a network of bike routes that would extend throughout the county and stretch as far west as Paw Paw.

But BFK organizer Paul Selden says all those improvements won’t mean much if drivers and cyclists don’t treat each other with respect.

And when even small kindnesses make the road that much friendlier, he says, why not make the effort to be nice to the car or bike next to you?

The civility he has in mind doesn’t require grand gestures.

“We’re talking about people waving to each other when someone has shared a courtesy like holding back from an intersection when they see a bicycle approaching,” he says.

“And bicyclists can express that by doing things like riding with traffic and using turn signals. Or in the case that may make a lot of motorists angry, using the symbol for breaking and slowing down so that people who are waiting on an intersection aren’t confused.”

In sum,  he says, cyclists can be friendly "by being courteous, following the rules of the road, and also by doing things like teaching our children how to ride safely."

In exchange, drivers can show some patience when they must wait for a cyclist to clear a lane.

"In an encounter with a 2,00o pound vehicle or a 4,000 pound vehicle," he says, it's the person on the bike who's going to get hurt.