Updated July 11, 2018 for additional clarification. Several months ago my car decided that going too far (around the block is about its limit right now) is something it no longer wants to do. Before this point, for six or seven years my car let me know that using it to leave the city limits was not allowed. As a result, I have been riding a bicycle for most of my short to medium trips and getting rides from friends for longer trips since late March or early April.
Over the last few weeks, a growing number of drivers appear to think playing chicken with me is a worthwhile activity. For the most part, they would come within 6 to 12 inches of my bike. However, in the last few days, some drivers have decided that 3 to 4 inches was the new chicken closeness. What they don’t get is if I see a road hazard ahead of me that they don’t, I will be moving out of the way to avoid it and that’s probably going to take me 4 to 6 inches into their line of travel. Not a big deal if they are keeping a 3 foot separation when passing a bicycle as required by state law. It becomes a big deal when they are going with the 3 to 4 inch or 4 to 6 inch passing that too many drivers have decided to use. I really don’t want to become a hood or side ornament for your vehicle nor do I think most bicyclists.
As a result, there are some places I opt for the sidewalk as it’s less likely for me to get “nudged” by a vehicle when I’m on the sidewalk. It’s not always practical to use the sidewalk for various reasons. Yesterday, I actually had a driver who was driving the other direction on a four-lane street shout at me to use the sidewalk. The sidewalk in that area is not conducive to safe bike riding or I would probably have been on it.
I tend to wear noticeable colors to reduce the odds of not being seen by drivers. However, with drivers who love to be on their cell phones, texting, using social media, etc., I could be wearing a glowing flashing outfit and they wouldn’t notice.
Addit: When I say 3 or 4 inches, I am not being overly dramatic or exaggerating. If I get a chance, I will be adding a 6 inch ruler to my left side handlebar to prove my point. I don’t have a camera that I can film my rides, but if I did, you would see how close some drivers come. Thankfully, most give me a foot or more, but many don’t.
I don’t care if it’s you are too busy talking on your cell phone, texting, Snapchatting, chasing Pokemon, Facebooking, being lazy, inattentive, or simply playing a game of chicken with me.
I tried to find number of accidents involving non-fatal bike injuries, but Wikipedia last shows 2013 for injuries with 840 deaths in 2016. I found a government website https://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/nfirates.html and was able to get 2016 data for injuries that show 405,095 bike-related injuries. An interesting point made on this website is the lack of knowledge on how safe bike riding and walking really are. The total number of both pedestrian and bike-related deaths have been going up in terms of total deaths.