By Donna Stone

As a new member of the cycling community, I’ve become more aware of the perils cyclists face on our roadways. While I’ve always been a driver who gives a wide berth to pedestrians walking on the shoulders and to cyclists, I’ve just considered it a courtesy more than anything else.

Now that I know many competitive cyclists training year-round, I’m hearing horror stories of close calls with vehicles whose drivers not only don’t follow the law, but who intentionally throw things at cyclists, or “buzz” them, or yell profanities.

I chalk these people up as complete idiots who have no respect for others, especially those who are out living a healthier lifestyle than they are.

What these negative people need to realize is that the person on the bike has a legal right to be there and is choosing to do something more positive with life than throwing dirty diapers, firecrackers and profanities at strangers.

We more-positive people can take down a license plate number to have the negative people tracked down by the police. That is also our legal right.

I do realize that not all cyclists are particularly courteous. I witnessed this recently driving up Newton Road in Orchard Park to meet friends for a bike ride.

Two cyclists were taking up the entire lane in which I was driving and did not move over to single file on the right, as they should. These ladies made me quite angry, but I didn’t yell profanities or throw my empty Starbucks cup at them.

I simply slowed down and moved to the opposite lane to pass them safely. Yes, I was thinking the profanities in my head, but I just let it go because I wanted to enjoy my day.

I also realize that nobody is a perfect driver ALL the time. We all make mistakes and accidents happen, but they can be avoided most times by not being an intentional idiot.

This letter is really meant for me to express my gratitude to the drivers of the Orchard Park, Hamburg and East Aurora areas. I have been paying closer attention to how I’m treated when I’m on my bike, and what I see in the drivers here is encouraging.

Wide berths, slowing down to pass me and honking only when they know me and then yelling “Hi!” (that one is still iffy – it’s startling).

Yesterday was my favorite. I was trying to find an opportunity to get over to the left to make a left turn on Abbott Road.

There were many cars approaching, so I was waiting. One driver stopped to let me move in and make my turn safely, even though he had the green light and would likely have to sit there when it turned red. That gave me hope that the idiots are outnumbered by the courteous.

Donna Stone is an avid bicyclist from Orchard Park.