It's getting ugly out there, as a growing number of bicyclists vie with motorists for a piece of the street.
Drivers don't seem to realize that bicyclists are entitled to the road, too.
"Cars will often come within an inch of your handlebars," said Charles Hicks, 60, a Bay Village bicyclist. He's been "buzzed," or cut off, by many an infuriated driver, and has had strings of obscenities hurled his way.
Blame goes both ways, he said, as inexperienced cyclists trying to save gas money hit the streets. "Adults with young children seem to think they have the right of way. I see them doing ignorant and dangerous things."
Bicyclists, especially novices, should map out a safe course before they roll out. "The route you take in a car isn't the same one you want to take on your bike," said Krista McNamee of Century Cycles. "Choose more residential-type streets to make your trip safer."
Yet the street's the best place to pedal, experts agree. "Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles," said cycling instructor Fred Oswald, who cited several studies showing that cyclists who follow in-street traffic patterns have significantly fewer accidents than those who make up their own rules.
So can't we all just get along? Check out our list of tips on page E4 to help drivers and bicyclists learn to play nice and share the road.
Look no further than the sales of bike fenders to realize
more area commuters are ditching their gas-guzzling cars in
favor of two-wheeled contraptions.
"We've sold more fenders in the past six to
eight weeks than in the past six to eight years," said
Scott Cowan, owner of Century Cycles in Rocky River, noting
that bicyclists find fenders -- which wrap around the tops
of tires -- useful for shielding their bodies, clothes and
bicycles from water and mud when they travel to work or run
More people in Northeast Ohio are transforming their
existing or new bikes into more commuter-friendly machines
to avoid $4-a-gallon gas. The mystery for nonbikers or
inexperienced riders, however, lies in choosing a bike or
fixing one up with accessories and adjusting to cycling
through the city.
Here are tips to help you pedal your way to a two-wheeled
One size or type doesn't fit
everyone, advised Neil Kaufman, owner of B&K Bicycle Co.
in South Euclid. He said customers should test different
types of bikes before buying one.
Beginners usually go with hybrid bikes or comfort bikes,
experts said, which allow them to sit upright rather than
bent down in racer mode.
"Any bike really can be made into a commuter
bike," Cowan said. "As long as it gets the job
done, it really doesn't matter what the bike looks
Once your bike is equipped, the
next step may be the scariest of all: Riding it.
Cleveland's Krista McNamee, 44, has biked to work for
13 years and now uses her bike to commute to her job at
Century Cycles in Rocky River. She offered these tips:
"Do a dry run of your route -- whether it's to
work or elsewhere -- on a Saturday or Sunday morning.
Rehearse it like you're really going to work or running
an errand. You can also join a cycling group to
Color-coded county maps that show the best biking routes
for beginning, intermediate and experienced cyclists are
available through the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating
Agency. Maps for Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Medina cost $2
each; Lorain's is free. For a copy, stop by the NOACA
office at 1299 Superior Ave., Cleveland, go to
www.noaca.org/bikemaps.html or call 216-241-2414.
For a free map of bike trails in Summit and Portage
counties, contact Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation
Study at www.ci.akron.oh.us/amats or call 330-375-2436.