Letter: Don’t be nice, be predictable

Published: 8/11/2019 12:01:12 AM

During my bicycle commute to and from work, I often have this experience. I’ll approach a stop sign. Crossing traffic has the right of way. For example, I’ll be on Rumford Street where it crosses Centre Street. Often a car traveling on Centre Street will stop, seemingly in an attempt to be nice, to let me cross. The problem is that nobody is expecting this car to stop.

New Hampshire laws specify that bicyclists are subject to the same laws as motor vehicle operators. As such, the bicyclist at a stop sign is supposed to stop and wait for a clearing in the traffic. The presumption is that the cross traffic is supposed to keep moving. The car that stops on Centre Street is acting unpredictably. Nobody knows why they’re stopping. Vehicles approaching from the other direction typically don’t stop. Vehicles approaching from behind are trying to avoid rear-ending the stopped vehicle.

Maybe drivers are confused. N.H. law requires vehicles to stop for pedestrians in designated crosswalks. As a bicyclist, I can choose to become a pedestrian by dismounting from my bike and walking it to the crosswalk. For a pedestrian in a designated cross walk, the vehicle must stop. For a bicyclist on the road, the vehicle should not stop.

As a bicyclist, I typically find it unsafe to proceed when one car stops unpredictably. In my opinion, it’s best for all road users to be predictable, even when it doesn’t seem like the nice thing to do.




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