Letter: Truck driver endangers cyclist, shouldn’t be excused

Editor,

My wife and I cycle about 2,000 miles each summer. For several years now.

A shout-out to drivers on Whidbey Island who are almost without exception courteous and careful. You are awesome! We return this attitude by obeying traffic laws and are probably even more annoyed by those few cyclists who are rude or dangerous than you are.

We recently had a three-ton pickup hauling a large payload come within 18 inches of my wife. He did not slow down. He barely moved over for her. I have it on videotape and a GoPro.

When we later caught up to the driver, he acted disgusted when I told him how close he came to her and waved to indicate that we were supposed to move over…onto the shoulder, I guess. My wife was riding lawfully on the far right of the lane.

We made a report to the sheriff’s office. The detective said that there was no violation because there were pedestrians on the other side of the road so the driver did not pull over as much because of them.

There were pedestrians. However, why the detective thought this gave the driver license to drive that close to us and not slow down was not made clear.

In fact, the finding of the officer was that there were actually two reasons for the driver to slow down — us and the pedestrians.

Further, it was a no-passing zone. The yellow lines are clear in the movie and photos we sent to the detective. Bicycles are, by law, considered to be vehicles, so passing us in a no-passing zone is another way the driver was in violation of the law and unsafe to all of us.

We were clearly visible — bright clothes and several blinking lights. There would have been ample room for all of us (bikes, pedestrians, and vehicle) if he had slowed down.

My wife is an experienced rider. If she had been inexperienced, or a child, having a vehicle honk at you then roar past you as close as this driver did could easily have caused that child or inexperienced rider to swerve, or wobble out of fear, and possibly fall — right under the wheels of the vehicle. When a vehicle of that size passes that close to you it is an unnerving feeling that you can’t imagine unless you cycle. A fall would have meant death. In no way was the distance, easily observable on the films we sent to the officer, a safe one, as mandated by law.

No deputy would allow his wife or child to stand by a roadway with their back to the flow of traffic and excuse someone who passed them that closely at that speed.

And no officer stopped on the shoulder would allow someone to pass them or an emergency vehicle that closely at that speed. They would have been cited.

Dan Graybill

Langley

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