I’ve never noticed how many people sit in parked cars until I started riding my bike to work and back. A few are on their cell phones, a few of them are smoking. I’ve seen one guy eating a burger. But for the most part, they’re just sitting there. What are they doing?
In some shadier parts of town, I figured maybe they’re waiting for a deal of some sort to go down. I think this, because as I am riding up from behind, they’re watching me from the side mirror. With their sunglasses on. And they quickly lose interest as I pass by. That would explain the afternoon crowd, but what about early in the morning? Why are people sitting in their car at 8:00 in the morning?
None of this, of course, would have been anything to think about except that now, as a bicycle rider, I am constantly on the lookout for people in parked cars. You just never know what they’re going to do next. I’ve had a couple of near-hits of people opening their car doors suddenly because they didn’t bother to look in the side mirrors. The SF Bay Area Bicycling 511 organization (http://bicycling.511.org/) recommends riding about 4-feet out from the parking lane.
This part I didn’t know: a bicyclist has the same rights to the road as a car. When in doubt, a bicyclist can assume ownership of a lane as long as s/he observes the same traffic rules. Now all we have to do is pass the message along to car drivers…..