Dear Street Smarts,
Q: Here is Also something for Bicyclist to think about when riding in the wrong direction: A car entering a roadway, and making a right turn, comes out onto the street and looks right then left enters the street while looking left for oncoming cars before pulling out. Upon seeing nothing, the car turns right and some bicyclist coming from the right, on the wrong side, now has a car pulling out in front of him. Not good. It has happened to me as a driver. Thanks.
A: A conversation with any traffic cop may reveal that many vehicle versus bicycle crashes occur when the cyclist is traveling toward oncoming traffic in places where it is unlawful to do so. My own mother’s car was hit by a cyclist in a similar situation.
According to the California Driver Handbook, cyclists:
Must ride in the same direction as other traffic.
Must ride in a straight line as close to the right curb or edge of the roadway as practical; not on the sidewalk.
Must ride in a single line on a busy or narrow street.
Must make left and right turns in the same fashion as drivers do, using the same turn lanes.
Must signal all their intentions to others on the road near them.
May legally move left to pass a parked or moving vehicle, another bicycle, an animal, avoid debris or other hazards.
May choose to ride near the left curb or edge of a one-way street.
If traveling straight, should use a through traffic lane rather than ride next to the curb and block traffic making right turns.
Are allowed to ride on certain sections of freeways, in some rural areas where there is no alternate route.
That said, “Share the Road” sometimes means making plenty of room for the negligent user, as well. As motorists, we know people pop out from every nook and cranny, doing the unimaginable. Thus, we must be extra careful to prevent colliding with others on the road.
In addressing intersections, the driver’s handbook states, “Any time you come to a place where people may cross or enter your path or one line of traffic meets another, you should look to the left and right sides of your vehicle to make sure no one is coming. Always look to each side at intersections, crosswalks, and railroad crossings.”
The booklet advises motorists to look both ways, even if other traffic has a red light or a stop sign. First, look to the left. Scan for automobiles, bikes and pedestrians that may be in the danger zone – where impact would be unavoidable. Then do the same as you look to the right. Now look left, again, to make sure you didn’t miss anyone.
When I’m turning, I tend to look first in the direction that I’m attempting to go. I look over my shoulder to make sure the space between me and the side of the road is clear. As I approach the intersection, I’m scanning the sidewalk at the corner for oncoming pedestrian and bicycle traffic. At the intersection, as I stop behind the limit line, I look in the opposite direction. If there is something blocking my view, I slowly inch forward until I can see that the coast is clear. Then, I return my attention to the direction I planned to go. Most of the time, especially when the area is very busy, I’ll repeat my scan. Once I’ve determined there are no obstacles, I hit the gas.
Check out www.dmv.ca.gov for more driving, cycling, motorcyce and pedestran rules.
The California Highway Patrol’s Start Smart program turns tonight at 6 p.m. The class for teens and their parents takes an eye-opening look at driving laws and crash statistics, as well as how they apply to young drivers and their families. Videos are shown. There’s also ample question and answer time.
The class is held at the CHP’s Aptos office on Soquel Drive. A future class is set for the same time on Aug. 17. Call 662-0511 to reserve a space.
Rule of the Week
Have a travel plan before you hit the road. Where are you going? What time should you be there? What time should you head out? What’s traffic like on your preferred route? What’s your back-up plan in case something serious happens that stops traffic? Buy a map of your destination. Don’t rely on hi-tech navigation devices and cell phone applications.
Sitting in traffic is a drag, a waste of time and gas, as well as bad for the environment.