Cyclists Sound Off about Unsafe Roadways
Officers from the 1st District reviewed bicycle laws, safety measures and expectations for cyclists on roads in the county.
When competitive cyclist, Evelin Egizi rides on MacArthur Boulevard it is often a fight for the road — a battle between cyclists and impatient drivers where the motor vehicles often have the upper hand, she said.
“My motto is ‘if it’s not safe [for cars] to pass [cyclists] — don’t,” said Egizi, who has been an accomplished cyclist for about 30 years. “There are impatient drivers out there that need to slow down. We are humans. I’ve seen dogs in the road get more respect than I do.”
On Monday evening, Egizi and other local cyclists had an opportunity to meet with officers from the 1st District of the Montgomery County Police Department to express their concerns with bicycle safety on certain roads in the area, including MacArthur Boulevard in Potomac and Beach Drive in Kensington. Also, Officer Edward Trybus of the 1st District Traffic Squad reviewed bicycle laws, safety measures and expectations for cyclists.
Every year, the 1st District station receives numerous concerns about motorists and cyclists sharing the road, particularly with MacArthur Boulevard, said 1st District Commander Capt. James Fenner. The Washington, D.C., metro area has an active biking community, yet many motorists complain the large biking groups impede traffic. Bikers say they have an equal right to the road and feel run off by unsafe drivers.
Trybus explained that on roads, like MacArthur, bikers can ride two-by-two, only if the flow of traffic is unimpeded — meaning the bikers are going at least the speed limit as to not slow down cars that want to pass. If bikers are not going the 30 miles-per-hour speed limit on MacArthur and a car approaches, the cyclist should get as close to the right as possible in a single file line so the car can pass safely, Trybus said.
Avid cyclists at the meeting complained that they bike the speed limit, only to have motorists pass them exceeding the speed limit and crossing the double yellow line on an already unsafe winding road. Potholes on MacArthur also create more safety concerns for cyclists, attendees said.
Although there is a bicycle path that runs parallel to MacArthur Boulevard, cyclists are not required to use it and they may ride in the roadway, Trybus added.
With more bikers on the roads as the weather gets warmer, the 1st District will work to have more officers patrolling the problem areas and enforcing the traffic laws, Fenner said. Officer Chris Winkler will be covering MacArthur Boulevard as part of his busy beat and will work to improve roadways safety, he said.
“Do I try and enforce on MacArthur Boulevard? Yes I do—when I can get there,” Winkler said. “We are not able to be everywhere all the time. We try to do the best we can with what we have.”