This past Friday my blog post about bicyclists was benign. This post? Not so much…
When I’m driving and up ahead I see a cluster of people on bicycles…
I dread it.
Even a solo bicyclist on a back road fills me with dread:
I’m convinced that someday, some bicyclist somewhere is going to sneeze or hit a rock or a pothole, and fall under my car tires…
And it will be my fault because in California, bicyclist tule the road.
Or so it seems to me.
OK: I get that a bike doesn’t pollute our world like gasoline-driven cars do, and every person who’s on a bike instead of driving a car makes for less congestion, and riding a bike is a healthy thing to do…
Well, most of the time…
But in California, I think it’s gotten out of hand.
Take this, for example:
Yes – the city of San Diego removed 400 parking spaces to accommodate bicyclists.
The article didn’t say anything about San Diego creating 400 other parking spaces nearby.
Bicyclists: 1. Drivers: 0.
Then there’s this law, passed on behalf of bicyclists:
According to the article,
“…vehicles must stay three feet away from cyclists when passing them on the street…Breaking the law carries a $35 fine. If a collision results from breaking the law and a bicyclist is injured, the motorist can be fined $220.”
So I have to stay three feet away from people on bikes – but there’s no law that says they have to stay three feet away from me?
Suppose I’m the mandated three feet away from a bicyclist and she/he suddenly swerves toward my car? Am I supposed to swerve to the left to avoid a collision? Maybe I can have a head-on collision with an oncoming car, but at least the bicyclist is safe?
Biyclists: 2. Drivers: 0.
And how about the fact that before I can drive, I must possess a driver license, but bicyclists?
They’re occupying the same streets that I am, but they don’t have to take a written test and a driving test and have their eyes checked and a hideous picture taken and pay for a driver license. They can just hop on their bikes and ride into the street and do this:
Apparently this bicyclist is unaware of VC 21205, “must leave a hand on the handlebars at all times.”
But then, most of the bicyclists I see seem unaware of those pesky laws that apply to them, just like they apply to us drivers. You know – obeying traffic signals and stop signs and stuff.
When I approach a traffic signal that’s red, here’s what I see:
When bicyclists approach a traffic signal that’s red, here’s what they see:
They just roll through that red light like it’s not there.
And stop signs? For drivers, no ambiguity here:
But for bikers? Here’s what they see:
And did you know that in California, it’s illegal for me to hold a phone and talk on it when I’m operating a vehicle, but it’s perfectly OK for a bicyclist to do the same?
So, if I’m driving and an on-the-phone distracted bicyclist falls under my tires, no doubt that will be my fault.
Bicyclists: 3. Drivers: 0.
And then there’s VC 21208, about bicyclists using the appropriate hand signals to alert drivers that the bicyclist is about to turn, slow down or stop:
Bicyclists do this…
I’ll also mention CVC 21210, “Bicyclists may not leave bicycles on their sides on the sidewalk or park bicycles in a manner which obstructs pedestrians.”
So, here’s my Memo to All Bicyclists:
I accept that driving near a group of you or even just one of you will always fill me with dread.
I accept that I’m going to be seeing more – not less – folks on bikes.
I’ll do my best to keep my me and my 3,500-pound car from coming into contact with you and your 20-pound bicycle.
This works better when it works both ways: