Editorial: Two car-bike accidents last week are two too many

Two cyclists were injured last Saturday in separate crashes in Mattituck. In one case, a 63-year-old man collided with the rear passenger side of a Jeep Cherokee, lost consciousness and had to be airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital.

In the second crash, a 58-year-old man collided with a vehicle that attempted a right turn in front of him. He also struck the car’s passenger side and was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center for treatment.

We posted stories about both incidents online, and people soon began posting comments. Many of them blamed the cyclists and criticized bike riders in general for what these commenters see as hogging the roads and blocking the flow of traffic. Here are some of the comments.

“… I would say 9 out of 10 riders I come into contact with literally do whatever they want!”

“… a vast majority of cyclists out here do not stop at mediated intersections, drive 4 across and/or in the middle of the road without regard for vehicles …”

“The back roads are not bike friendly, nor will they be.”

“It doesn’t matter if there is a bike lane, they are always out of it … I’ve yelled at them when I drive by and you get the bird …”

“Driving down New Suffolk Ave. the other day a group of approximately a dozen cyclists came out of Mattituck Estates without stopping, luckily they weren’t all killed by the guy who slammed on his brakes …”

“… the cyclists are BADNEWS out here.”

“I’m surprised more accidents don’t happen the way these bikes think they own the road.”

A Jamesport woman emailed an editor at this paper to say she was “stunned by the hostility expressed by most of the commenters about bike riders!” She added that “car drivers need to remember that they are driving huge, heavy metal machines that will always win in an accident. I really fear this rage against cyclists will manifest itself in tragedy.”

Some of us here at the Times Review newspapers are cyclists and have encountered drivers who are thoroughly irritated by having to share the road with a bicycle. Some drivers will deliberately turn right in front of a rider because they can’t possibly wait a few seconds for the rider to pass; others shout obscenities out their car windows. There’s a word for these aggressive, nasty drivers but it can’t be used in a community newspaper.

The rules of the road permit cyclists to ride on the shoulder — in single file, and always to the right of the white line. Cyclists should stop at every red light. They shouldn’t bunch up to talk to each other if it blocks traffic behind them. If our once-country roads are poor places for the mile-long limousines and drinking vans that frequent the wineries, they are equally poor places for large groups of cyclists.

Having said that, drivers have a responsibility to look out for cyclists, who ride on the North Fork because it’s a great place to do it. Drivers are sharing the road with bike riders, and if everyone stays in their lanes and obeys traffic signals, accidents should be at a minimum. Two serious ones in one day in Mattituck are two too many.