I moved to Pittsburgh 4 months ago and I commute to work on Penn (East Liberty-Garfield). At least once per week, I get a comment from a driver. Sometimes it’s just be careful, drivers don’t see you (in the middle of the day…) and other times is a-holes yelling at me to ride on the sidewalk and passing really close to me. On my short experience here, I have realized that most drivers do not know how to safely interact with cyclist on the road. Even my coworkers are not aware of the “4-feet law”.
I know that BikePGH does a great job educating cyclists, but I was wondering if it would be possible to create some educational media (like a pamphlet) that it could be handled to drivers? Or maybe left on their windshield in parking lots. Is there any precedent for this? I would be more than happy to help in any way possible.
Welcome to Pittsburgh, and welcome to the message board. It’s great to see new folks join up.
What you’re experiencing is much what the rest of us are experiencing. We each have our ways of dealing with it. Mine is to unapologetically take the lane nearly everywhere. Others will disagree, and/or offer their own coping mechanisms. YMMV.
My suggestion for a proper solution is going to be extremely difficult to do: Change state licensing requirements to implement taking a version of the written driver licensing exam at each four-year renewal. Related: Also require that the initial licensing exam ask more like 60 to 80 questions instead of 18 to 20.
After putting a couple dozen thousand miles under me in Pittsburgh traffic in the last few years, commuting in from the North Hills regularly (about a 10-mile trip each way), I fully believe that the average driver simply does not know the rules. They likely barely learned them in the first place, however many years ago they got licensed (for me, that was 1976), and there has not once in the time since been any way for them to have been required to learn anything new or different, or corrected a misunderstanding, about traffic law.
The four-foot rule, and corresponding you-may-cross-the-center-line-to-pass-a-bike rule, was implemented in 2012. Who would have told them? Second-hand through a friend? Saw a news article? How would anyone learn anything about changed traffic laws? The law requiring headlights be turned on whenever the wipers are on was a 2006 change, and we still don’t have 100% compliance on that one. I only learned about needing to change lanes to pass a policeman on a routine traffic stop because I was in the car with someone who knew the rule had recently changed.
We will stop being harassed about doing perfectly legal things when drivers are expected to know traffic law. Maybe Bike-Pgh can help with that, but frankly that’s not their job, and that doesn’t much help all the drivers outside of Bike-Pgh’s sphere of influence. The guy who hit me a couple weeks ago lives in rural Butler County.
If anyone else knows a better way, I would surely love to hear it. Meanwhile, keep on cranking. Every time you’re out there, you’re providing experience to other drivers. If in doing that it might feel you have a target on your back — long sigh — then so be it.