Monday, June 10, 2013


I wasn't going to post about bike riding this week - we didn't go out due to temperatures that had reached the high 80's by 10 am on Saturday and strong winds on Sunday.  On Sunday night I got an e-mail asking if we were okay and a link to a news article about a Pleasanton couple in their late 50's riding their bikes when they were struck and knocked off the road.  The woman died at the scene. The driver of the car which hit the bike riders is 18 years old. 

It wasn't us, but it certainly could have been though we do not ride on that road due to the lack of bike lanes and because people speed there.   It is a narrow, winding sort of "country" road with high end developments on both sides of the street. But we certainly have seen our share of distracted and careless drivers when we are on our bikes.

I think some people just are not educated about sharing the road with bikes.  When we enter the left turn
lanes it freaks people out. I guess they think we are supposed to act like pedestrians and walk our bikes in the cross walk at each intersection.  Also people have a hard time  if we are in the bike lane and they want to turn right.  In our area there are broken lines which indicate where cars should turn right, but rather than slowing  to turn behind us, drivers frequently speed up and then cut us off by turning in front of us. 

The law in CA is this:

When to Take the Traffic Lane

Many roads do not have designated bicycle traffic lanes, so bicyclists share the traffic lane to the left of the white line. If there is no shoulder or bicycle lane and the traffic lane is narrow, ride closer to the center of the lane. This will prevent motorists from passing you when there is not enough room. You should also use the traffic lane when you are traveling at the same speed as the traffic around you. This will keep you out of motorists’ blind spots and reduce conflicts with right-turning traffic.

Motorists Passing Bicyclists
Be patient when passing a bicyclist. Slow down and pass only when it is safe. Do not squeeze the bicyclist off the road. If road conditions and space permit, allow clearance of at least three feet when passing a bicyclist.

People in cars get mad that they might have to slow down for a moment to let a bicycle pass or turn or get across a road.  Usually it is a matter of a few seconds - and if it is longer or a cyclist has to take the road for safety - get over it!  It's part of being on the road. 

I know some people on bicycles are jerks and don't follow the traffic laws.  I am sorry for that.  It really shouldn't give anyone the attitude that all of us on bikes should be fair game which seems to be the attitude of many people who were commenting about the news article.

The facts of the particular accident aren't reported yet.  Some people who know the 18 year old driver have commented that he known to speed around town.  If that's the cause, I hope he is prosecuted. In any case it is a tragedy all around.


hokgardner said...

Constant source of contention in Austin, I think because there are so many cyclists. You'd think drivers would be used to them and peacefully coexist, but there are always a few jerks who don't believe bikes belong on the roads.

smalltownme said...

Oh, I hear you! My son's been yelled at many times "use the crosswalk" and such, when he is actually obeying the laws by riding properly in the street and using the turn lanes. There is an old fart in our valley that has deliberately run cyclists off the road. One brave and vocal cyclist took him to court.

knittergran said...

I am always so surprised when I hear people saying really hostile things about bike-riders. Most of them obey the laws of the road and have the same rights to the roads as cars do.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

This makes me so grateful that we live in a town full of cyclists, where people regularly see and expect to see bikes on the road.

People who break the law and endanger others, simply because they consider themselves more important than other people (hello, speeders, intoxicated/DUI drivers, and their ilk) are the cause of my raised blood pressure.
One thing I've really tried to drill into my teens is that they are driving a weapon. It must be working because they point out my own dumb mistakes on occasion (in a kind way, not a mean way).