Irked after being told to stay in the bike lane by an irate driver, David Fox from Salem, Oregon, has embarked on an informal driver education campaign, reports USA Today. The owner of a local digital printing firm, Fox has produced a couple of his own road signs which a bicycle together with the words ‘may use full lane’ and he has put them up on nearby lamp posts.
Speaking about the incident that inspired him, Fox said he had been cycling in the nearside lane with two other lanes available when a driver behind had beeped his horn at him. "I kept my lane, and he pulled up next to me and yelled, 'Get in the bleeping bike lane, ***hole'. And then he sped off."
Fox chose to confront the driver at the next red light.
“The first thing I said was, 'Did you see a bike lane?' He said if I was impeding traffic, then I had to pull to the side. But I told him he had plenty of room to go around. The last thing he said was: 'I hope you are killed by a car.'”
While cyclists are expected to ride ‘as close as practicable’ to the kerb under Oregon law, they are permitted to take up the whole lane where there are hazards. Fox believes that people misinterpret the law. "It's not just drivers, it's cyclists too. I think the majority of cyclists believe they're supposed to ride next to all the parked cars, which is really dangerous."
Fox says that his signs are an effort to raise awareness and perhaps spark debate. However, they are unlikely to be around for long. Robert Chandler, assistant public works director with the city, said:
"We follow what is called a manual of uniform traffic control devices. The intention of the manual and the reason we follow it is so there's standardised signage across the country. So whatever he has put up ... it really cannot resemble a regular traffic control sign because that would confuse drivers. We would either remove it or ask him to remove it."
Another local cyclist, Doug Parrow, said the fundamental message was that the city and state had done an inadequate job of educating motorists. He feels that many people fail to see the bicycle as a vehicle. “They don't have the perspective that they need to maintain control of vehicles and wait until it's safe to pass to do so," he said.
Last year, we reported on a homemade sign which put across a rather different message. A Biggin Hill resident, apparently taking issue with organised cycling events put up a sign to inform ‘Lycra louts’ that they were not welcome.
The person responsible is presumably not in favour of cyclists taking up a position in the middle of the road as they also made reference to “blocking our roads”. They also criticised cyclists for “polluting the countryside with orange plastic signs” – apparently unaware of the irony in how they put this message across.