Once upon a time in the woodland city of Santa Rodent there lived a rabbit who loved to ride his bicycle. But his friends called him the Gutter Bunny!
Because he was afraid of cars and trucks, that’s where he rode – as close to the curb as possible.
Riding in the gutter caused a lot of problems for the Bunny. He had a lot of punctures from the broken glass and other debris that collects at the edge of the road. And one day he fell off his bike when a wheel slipped on a wet grating, and another time he crashed when a pedal got caught on a high curb as he went round a corner.
Worst of all though was the problem the Bunny had with parked cars! He tried to stay close to the car as he passed it, because of other traffic, but sometimes a car door would open and he almost ran into it. Every time the rabbit came to a parked car he would take a deep breath, give a hand signal (because he was a polite bicycle rider) and swoop round the car as quickly as possible. If there was a gap between parked vehicles he would get back to the curb as soon as he could and then pluck up courage for the next obstacle. What the rabbit did not realize is how this looked to passing drivers. They would see the rabbit disappear into the “hole” between parked cars, then pop out again with no warning. One day the rabbit gave his usual signal but didn’t know that he was invisible behind a Ferret Express truck. When he pulled out he was hit by an SUV driven by a big Toad, and bunny went flying cotton tail over floppy ears! Fortunately, and thanks to his helmet, Bunny was not badly hurt but he was very cross. He even wrote to the newspaper, the Santa Rodent Push Republican, and complained that bicycling rabbits got no respect and asked motoring animals to share the road through the woods.
Soon after this the Bunny met an experienced bicycle rider, a Racing Racoon, who was worried about the way the rabbit used his bike. The racoon persuaded Bunny to make just a few changes in how and where he rode:
First, stay at least two feet from the curb so there is space to maneuver and less debris.
Second, when riding past a parked vehicle stay far enough away so you won’t run into a door if it opens suddenly. That means riding more in the traffic lane, but that’s safer than slamming into a door.
Third, DO NOT DISAPPEAR into the gap between parked vehicles. Ride as close to a straight line as you can, aiming for where you want to be when you get to the next obstacle. Passing car drivers can still see you, and they KNOW you need to pass the parked car you are approaching. If you want to give a bit more space to be overtaken on a narrow road move over, but no further than in line with the left-side tires of the next parked vehicle.
Bunny tried to ride the new way, but at first felt scared. However, he soon found that he had fewer problems with cars and trucks, he got fewer flat tires, and he didn’t crash so much! In time he was able to concentrate on where he was going and worried less about traffic coming from behind. He was bicycling with confidence!
Footnote: Martin Clinton is certified by the League of American Bicyclists as a Bicycle Education Instructor.
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