"Sharing the road" in Press Journal

The following letter by Paul Wojciechowski appeared in the St. Louis-area Press Journal last week:

Dear Editor:

There were comments recently regarding interaction of motorists and bicyclist in the West County area of the St. Louis Metro Region. Many of the critics of bicycles using the area roadways have some valid points, but mainly they very close minded to the benefits and assets bicycling and bicycle accommodations on roadways are to the general public. Here are health and transportation benefits to bicycle use.

I myself am a certified effective cyclist, which means I ride my bicycle on area roadways and behave like a typical vehicle on the roadway. This means I stop at stop signs and traffic signals, ride with the flow of traffic, signal all turns, ride right, ride single file and respect all vehicles and pedestrians on the roadway. All of these apply when I am in my car or van also. It is the way licensed drivers behave. There is no exception for cyclists. I see cyclists run red lights and stop signs, it frustrates me, mainly because it really gives motorists an uncertain feeling when a bicyclist is present. Bicyclist must obey the basic rules of the road and behave like another vehicle; this is the way they fare best.

I do not ride on trails for the most part. Yes, they have there place in the transportation network, but for the most part, do not carry cyclists to real destinations such as school, work and other activity centers. This is why many cyclists use roads. Cyclists also use roadways when their speeds are too hazardous for trails. Many road riders travel at 17 to 25 miles per hour average speed, which is much too fast for the recreational trails that accommodate joggers and people walking dogs, or children riding their bikes.

The sooner motorists realize that roadways are multi-modal facilities, the sooner we can all get along together and “Share the Road”. I pay gas tax just like most other bicyclists and yes my family has two motor vehicles, I have a right as a citizen in the community to use our roadways for transportation purposes. Whether I walk, ride my bike or drive my car, as long as I respect the rules of the road, I have a right to use the roadway.

When making a bike trip to the store or work you are taking a step in reducing traffic on the roadways, something we should all strive to accomplish. Our older kids should be able to ride their bikes to a friend’s house safely, and not depend on mom or dad.

In general, most roadways with good shoulders or wide outside lanes, such as Clarkson Road or Clayton Road, can accommodate cars and bikes safely. Next time you see a cyclist on the road, don’t get angry that you have to share, or yell and honk at the cyclist, you are slowing down traffic doing so. Just share the road, and realize that there is one less car on the road you have to sit behind at a traffic signal.


Paul L. Wojciechowski, AICP, P.E.
16939 Westridge Oaks Drive
Grover, MO 63040