This is a continuing blog regarding dangerous/annoying behaviors by motorists. Anyone who has done much bicycling has been "buzzed." In a nutshell, buzzing is a motorist driving too close to a cyclist. This behavior almost always is a deliberate decision made by the motorist and very often is accompanied by high speed. It seems that it often is an act of a driver that is fed up with having to share the road with a cyclist.
Cyclists have a right to the road, and although some motorists do not realize it, cyclists llegally are considered traffic, and thus not only have rights, but obligations as well. One of those obligations is to ride in the same direction as other traffic (cars and trucks). To ride against traffic, as some people inexplicably believe is what cyclists should do, would be extremely dangerous to the cyclist and motorist as bicycles would show up where motorists least expect them, ie. headed directly toward a car.
Of course, a cyclist going in the same direction as a motorist, as a general proposition, will be moving at a slower rate of speed than the motorist, meaning that the motorist will have to pass the cyclist. Its in these passing situations that some motorists feel the need to express the anger at having had to slow down for a few seconds and thus go blowing by a cyclist at 60 mph and 3 inches away. Obviously, the slightest mistake by the motorist (or the cyclist) may mean a dead or injured cyclist. Given that a motorist traveling at 60 mph is moving at a rate of 88 feet per second, almost 30 yards/second, even if the cyclist has a rear view mirror, the cyclist often will never even see the motorist approaching and will be completely unaware of the approaching vehicle until the car is inches away. If there is an imperfection in the road, causing the cyclist to move a few inches to the left, then a wreck will occur. Sometimes the motorist misjudges the distance and what was meant as a "buzz" becomes a wreck.
Some states, I believe Tennessee and Florida, are two such states require that passing motorists not come within 3 feet of a cyclist. I don’t know how well or how often these laws are enforced, but given the tremendous harm that can occur when a buzz takes place, I do believe these laws are appropriate.
Mistakes on the road happen. What is so galling to cyclists is that the cyclist is the one that is going to get hurt and the motorist’s behavior is intentional.