This letter is focused at cycling safety, but also directly pointed to the motorist who nearly caused a head-on collision with our vehicle as he/she recklessly passed two cyclists while going southbound on Powerline Road last Sunday.
Whoever you are, wine tourist or local, you approached two cyclists from behind at high rate of speed, accelerated around them over a double yellow line directly into the path of my car and narrowly made it back into the southbound lane.
I slowed down and shook my finger at you. You saw me, but you didn't see the faces of the cyclists who understood they narrowly escaped injury.
All this could have been avoided by a 15-second wait on your part. Were you on such a tight schedule that you had to risk the lives of cyclists and another motorist on a county road?
Since 2004, we have lost three cyclists, Ann Weatherill, Marilyn Jensen and Sara Eustis, at the hands of careless or inattentive drivers. These cyclists did not cause their own deaths. All were clearly visible. They were riding safely and abiding by the rules of the road afforded to cyclists by law.
In the last decade, the sport of bicycling in the Walla Walla Valley has grown from dozens of riders to hundreds. With tourism, college racing teams and global popularity, this number will increase by many more over time as it has in other parts of the state.
Locally, one can find cyclists on almost any county road at any time of the day. If you approach bicycles on one of our many county roads, please slow down, pass safely as you would any slow-moving vehicle and share the road.
There is no such thing as a "fender bender" with a bicycle. Contact almost always results in death or injury of the cyclist.
Jon S. Bren