Dear Mississippi drivers

You know the quote: “As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.” Well, as a regular bicyclist, I naturally hate both drivers and pedestrians. But surely we can all get along?

Dear Mississippi drivers: if you can learn a few simple things, we will both be much happier!

  1. When passing bicycles, particularly on a narrow road, you may need to wait until you can pass safely. Speeding by while leaning out the window and screaming “GET OFF THE ROAD, FAG!” is not an acceptable alternative.
  2. When you make a right turn, you may be crossing the path of a bicyclist traveling along the shoulder to your right. You have two options in this situation: you can wait for the bike to pass; or, if you have enough space, you can turn in advance of the bike. Most Mississippi drivers, however, would prefer to speed by and cut the bicyclist off with a hard right turn, or else slow down as they pass , then hesitate at the turn so it’s not clear whether it’s safe to pass them or not. Stop doing this.
  3. When approaching a stop sign, it should be clear that you plan to stop. Eye contact helps. Don’t casually roll several feet into the intersection without looking.
  4. When you get to a 4-way stop first, you have the right of way. Don’t wave me ahead when I’m in the middle of stopping. You think you’re being nice, but you’re being confusing. Follow the rules of the road.
  5. Your turn signals are there for a reason. Use them.

Mississippi bicyclists could learn a few things as well, certainly:

  1. Bicycles travel in the right lane, in the same direction as traffic. I am tired of playing chicken with oncoming bicyclists.
  2. Stoplights are not suggestions. The other direction has a green light, and one day you are going to get killed.
  3. If you must bike while intoxicated, at least stop carrying open containers of alcohol.

Let’s work together to share the road! Mississippi is 24th in the Bicycle Friendly State ranking, up all the way from 47th in 2008; let’s keep climbing.

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