…at least, that has to be what the cyclist we encountered last night was thinking. Here’s the set up:
It’s about 11:30PM, J is driving, and I’m staring out the window. We’re headed home on a road that has a high speed limit: 45 mph. It’s a 4-lane road in Michigan.
Why is this important to the story, you ask? Because Michigan folks seem to hate street lamps (We both grew up in Chicago). They like things dark here, I guess. Or, maybe there isn’t enough money to go around to keep such areas well lit. It’s probably that, but regardless of the reasons, that’s what we have to deal with. A town that becomes pitch black at dusk.
So, we’re driving. At 45 mph. It’s pitch black. No street lamps. I’m staring out at darkness. And what happens?
J slams on the brakes, and almost comes to a complete stop. I gasp–loudly and obnoxiously–as I snap to look out the windshield. Just in time to see a cyclist ride across the street, right in front of us.
No lights. Dark clothes. Nowhere near an intersection or a crosswalk. And only a few reflectors on the wheel.
Unsafe Cycling At Night
This type of reckless behavior irritates me. If J had not seen this cyclist and slammed on his brakes in time, we surely would have slammed right into him. Lucky for everyone, J is a hyper-vigilant driver and saw him, but cyclists should not depend on this when cycling on the streets.
The worst part of this whole story is that it is not the first time a close call like this happened to us. In fact, just a few nights before, we saw a group of 4 men riding their bikes in the opposite lane–so yes, actually riding towards traffic. At again, this happened at night. And yet again, all they had was a couple reflectors. They were riding parallel, taking up an entire lane.
I am sure we are not the only ones who have experienced this. As an avid cyclist, I care very much about cycling safety. Have you had similar experiences and close calls with cyclists who fail to properly make themselves visible at night or in bad conditions? What thoughts do you have about this issue?