Cyclists need “just a little courtesy”

Sally Cooper Smith doesn’t understand the hatred some people seem to have for bicyclists.

That hatred has been evident in recent weeks, and especially in the aftermath of the accident that sent her husband, Doug, to a Des Moines hospital on Saturday with a fractured skull and broken pelvis.

I certainly don’t understand it, either. I’ve been searching for some words to address this very thing. She spoke them in this video from KCCI in Des Moines. Simple words.

“It takes nothing to give them just a little courtesy,” she said, speaking of the cyclists who were riding with her husband when he was hit and run over.

That doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

Like too many other motorists, however, the driver who hit Doug Smith didn’t seem to have any courtesy to spare. Like too many others, he was unwilling to share the road as required by law.

In mostly anonymous online comments, drivers say it’s because cyclists don’t obey traffic laws themselves. Some use the lame excuse that there are cyclists who drink too much on RAGBRAI. Some have the mistaken notion that we don’t pay taxes like they do. Others just don’t like having someone in their way and having to slow down or be cautious.

As if any of that would justify taking the life or health of a fellow citizen and neighbor.

Can I endanger your daughter if she gets in my way with her car? OK if I run your grandmother off the road with my SUV if she isn’t driving fast enough and I’m running late?

Of course not. So why is it OK to pass within inches of a cyclist?

It isn’t OK.

I give you a little courtesy when I’m driving my car. Give me a little courtesy when I’m on my bicycle. It costs you nothing.

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1 Response to “Cyclists need “just a little courtesy””


  1. 1 David Lee April 16, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    I completely agree with you on this. Most of the drivers I encounter are very courteous, but I’ve seen my share of rude ones who pass too closely and with too much speed (and who honk when they blow by).
    Whenever a courteous driver passes me, I wave to them to show my appreciation. To the others, I just keep my head down and try not to respond, because I think that’s what they want and then it would justify some kind of retaliation in their minds. No thank you.


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