Bikes, cars need to learn how to share the road

Published 6:00 am Thursday, August 23, 2018

Joe Giambrone was on his bike early Sunday afternoon, riding with a friend on a two-lane street, when they approached a T-stop intersection and a simple left turn almost turned tragic.

As a car came up behind them, Giambrone stuck his arm out to signal the turn. The driver might have mistaken it for a wave around, might have missed it, or might not have cared. Giambrone started his turn as the car attempted to pass, and the two narrowly avoided what could have been an ugly collision.

“I learned a little lesson from this,” Giambrone, an experienced cyclist, said. “I’ll check back behind me a little bit more.”

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We could all stand to learn a few lessons. There are lots of cyclists and runners wandering the streets of Vicksburg and the back roads of Mississippi. Encounters are inevitable, and can be deadly if we’re not careful.

Most safety tips boil down to common sense and a simple rule — don’t be a jerk.

If you’re driving a car, be alert and patient. Wait until the road is clear to pass cyclists and give them as wide a berth as possible. Don’t get annoyed if they’re hogging the entire lane. Giambrone said that’s actually a smart safety tactic.

“When you’re on the white line, people try to squeeze by you,” he said. “I know a lot of people who have been hit by side mirrors.”

If you’re a cyclist or runner, take some of the initiative for your own safety. Reflective clothing and lights increase visibility and make it easier for vehicles to see and avoid you. Giambrone added that moving around on a bike also helps.

“When you’re making a turn or coming to a four-way stop, you want to make eye contact with a driver,” he said. “I like to get fidgety on my bike. If you’re just cruising and being still people might not pay attention to you. Every now and then you can use an audible thing. It’s hard to adjust at that speed, because we only have one move we can make and if it’s the wrong one we’re all in trouble.”

Cars and bikes will always share an uneasy truce. Both of their operators think the road belongs to them, and they’re both right. Cyclists have rights and responsibilities, as do car drivers. So let’s all get along out there. Use a little common sense and patience, and we’ll all get home safely.

“Everybody’s in a rush,” Giambrone said. “You get on a windy road and they just want to get around you. It might slow you up by 30 seconds. Do you want to take that chance of a father or mother not getting home to their kids?”

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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