Thursday, 19 January 2012
Yesterday, while my daughter and I were traveling our usual route up 16th Street in Silver Spring, we got honked at. Some idiot, thinking cyclists don't belong on a 6-lane 35mph speed limit highway, decided to angrily honk his horn - twice - as he passed me. Startled, I yelled "Shut up!" at the top of my voice. Of course, he probably couldn't hear through his passenger window's tempered glass. Then I became amused as I saw him wildly gesticulating, clearly enraged, as he drove on.
As is true of most states, Maryland law permits cycling on all but limited access highways. I was taking the lane (riding in the middle of the lane) on this road, as it is too narrow for a vehicle to overtake a bicycle in the lane. Taking the lane is specifically permitted under Maryland Transportation Statute 21-1205 (a) 6 and is the safest procedure when a lane is too narrow to share, especially when traffic speeds are high (as they tend to be on 16th Street), as it prevents unsafe passes and makes the cyclist more visible to cars earlier, which allows them to change lanes before they are forced to slow down. I believe there's also a law that's supposed to prevent the use of the horn around cyclists too, but I can't find the statute.
It does worry me that even a very few drivers have no idea that cyclists belong on the road. Not that there's much that can be done about it.