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Drivers and cyclists alike should update their safety skills

In response to Frank M. Neighoff Jr's letter "Cyclists must be responsible" (Feb. 15), let's all drive or cycle responsibly. All lives matter! We can't control what the other driver does, but we can control how we act. While cars have many good purposes, we should remember that handled improperly a car can be a lethal weapon.

About one-third of the city's residents don't own cars, and many families only have one car. Also many of the city's neighborhoods were designed for one-car rather than three-car families. Consequently, it's in everyone's best interest to provide people with travel options; whether it be driving, transit, walking or bicycling.

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The bicycling industry provides badly needed jobs in a city with high unemployment. Check out the many new bicycle shops. Sales of bicycles and parts are subject to Maryland sales tax. And while motorists pay registration fees that cyclists don't pay, cars get the privilege of parking on public streets for free.

Everyone, bicyclists included, needs to obey traffic laws. People have the misconception that it's OK to routinely drive 10 miles over the posted speed limit. I regularly see cars traveling 45 mph in a 30 mph zone. Speeding endangers not only other drivers but also vulnerable users like cyclists and pedestrians.

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While cyclists should obey traffic laws, we should realize that a two-ton car can do far more damage than a cyclist. Also, please remember that cyclists face challenges in determining where to ride on the road. Some bike lanes are poorly designed — located in the door zone, blocked by buses and people who double park, and conflict with right turning traffic. Cyclists appreciate your slowing down and allowing us to merge into the traffic lanes when necessary. Naturally cyclists should signal and wait until there's room or a courteous driver grants permission.

And better training for cyclists and motorists is needed. I would like to see civic groups, schools and colleges provide training for cyclists. Incidentally the Baltimore Bicycling Club baltimorebicyclingclub.org offers a free Instructional series in the spring. And just as people take courses to update their job skills, Maryland should encourage drivers to periodically update their skills. Let's be courteous and share the road, and return home safely.

Jeffrey H. Marks, Baltimore

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