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In a typical year, nearly 750 bicycle riders nationwide may die in car-bicycle crashes. Thousands more cyclists are injured, some with serious traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, or other life-threatening harm. Many drivers are hostile to cyclists, resentful if their ride is slowed down for a few moments by a bicycle in front of them, or if they have to move over a foot to give the cyclist safe distance.

Part of the hostility is due, no doubt, to those few bicycle riders who have their own aggressive attitude and who dart in and out of traffic or cut in front of cars, as if daring the two ton monster to hit them. It’s a dare the cyclist cannot win. What too many motorists do not realize, is that in most states – Massachusetts included – bicyclists have as much right to the road as do motorists. The only exceptions are major highways and certain other state roadways. A bicyclist is mandated to obey traffic laws. That may mean, for example, that if the cyclist is turning left, he will have to get safely over from the right side of the road, to the middle or the left lane.

Bicyclists must exercise caution on the roads at all times, but motorists have responsibilities as well to obey traffic rules and to respect the rights of bicyclists. That may require taking a deep breath and backing off. A moment’s irritation at a bicyclist, by a driver, could result in a tragedy that no one wants.

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