Cyclist shares horror stories on the road, another questions travel routes

Dear Street Smarts, Q: As a cyclist, I willingly take on the task of trying to anticipate each car driver's every move. After being hit by cars and having innumerable close calls with car doors, I have learned that I must be obsessively vigilant about my own safety, seeing as how car drivers seem very unaware of my presence on the road. Cyclists are given, at best, about three feet of the road to occupy and this space should be their safety corridor. I am writing you because I am tired of car driver's hideous sense of entitlement to all paved surfaces and would like people on the road to hear that cyclists deserve some respect. Today, after barely missing the swing of a few car doors, enduring a steady onslaught of cat-calls, and being cut off by car drivers occupying the bike lane to make right turns or to merge into traffic from driveways or parking lots, I reached the last straw when someone in a white truck hurled their collection of garbage at me. Luckily, the bag of garbage only hit my body and did not knock me off my bike or get stuck in one of my wheels. The fact that this act was degrading is not as upsetting as the fact that it was very dangerous. Throwing things at cyclists can seriously injure them, seeing as how we are in motion and very vulnerable to crashing into the pavement. I honestly believe that getting on my bike should not feel like I am taking my life and dignity into my own hands. I understand that transporting bodies at high speeds is risky, but wouldn't it be nice if collective safety and respect for life was everyone's main focus when on the road? To achieve this we'd have to share the road space, communicate, look, slow down and recognize that everyone in traffic probably has an important place to go and would like to arrive there safely. As far as hurling objects and obscene comments at cyclists, there is simply no room for such things at all. Thank you very much for your consideration. Travel safely!! Concerned Cyclist A: That is horrific. Let me be the first to apologize for the terrible things drivers do on the road to cyclists, and challenged them to behave better. If you have the vehicle information about that garbage throwing truck, call the CHP at 662-0511 , said Officer Sarah Jackson, CHP spokeswoman. Here’s what else she had to say: “It sounds like you have taken responsibility for your own safety by becoming a defensive rider. Your extra vigilance has kept you safe. Kudos to you. You are right, we cannot assume others we share the road with are:
  1. Going to obey the laws;
  2. Aware of others on the road; 
  3. Not impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a medical condition.
My advice to cyclists is to always obey traffic laws, remain single file, and stay vigilant, as you do. Throwing objects from a vehicle is illegal. If at all possible, I urge you or others in that situation to take note of the license plate, any description of the driver or occupants, and details of the event such as time, location, and the direction the vehicle continued in. CHP takes these calls seriously, and we will respond to you for a report. If a license plate is obtained, we can follow up appropriately. My advice for motorists is to consider bicyclists. They have as much right-of-way on the roads as vehicles, but should be given extra consideration due to their vulnerable position without the protections we have in vehicles. When encountering cyclists on narrow roads with no bike lanes, a bicycle can occupy a lane. Because they typically move slower than vehicles, they should pull over and let vehicles pass when a sufficient turn out is available. Motorists should not pass bicycles closely, around blind curves, or at high speeds. Throwing objects or insults at bicycles may earn a motorist a visit from the California Highway Patrol." Q: As a bicyclist, can I legally ride on the side of the road on an off/on ramp of Highway 1? I am specifically asking about the section traveling from 41st to Bay avenues. I am aware of the bike-pedestrian path next to Rispin, but it is out of the way. Thanks, Jennifer, via email A: No, bicycles are not allowed on the Highway 1 ramp between the 41st and Bay avenues. If the bridge behind the Rispin Mansion is out of the way, I suggest you stick to city streets. Check out the bike map on the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission’s web site http://www.sccrtc.org/bikemap.html for cycling routes through the county. Highway 1 to be paved at Emeline, Morrissey On Oct. 1, Caltrans will pave the median shoulder of Highway 1 between Emeline Avenue and Morrissey Boulevard. The one-day project will require the closure of the fast lane in the northbound direction from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The other two northbound lanes will remain open during the paving. Motorists are urged to use caution when traveling through the construction area. Message signs will be posted alerting drivers to the project. For information about this and other Caltrans projects in Santa Cruz County, call Caltrans District 5 Public Affairs at 831-423-0396 or visit http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist05/maint/road/upscr.htm.
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One Response to Cyclist shares horror stories on the road, another questions travel routes

  1. Michael Lewis says:

    I seriously doubt that the message from the unnamed “Concerned Cyclist” describes a typical daily ride anywhere in Santa Cruz County.

    I have been riding in and around Santa Cruz daily for seven years. I have never received “cat calls,” I have never been doored, I have never had anything thrown at me. This may have something to do with my bicycling habits.

    I obey all traffic rules that apply to all vehicles on our streets. I ride with awareness and courtesy toward other users of the road. I ride slowly past parked cars and keep an eye out for movement inside the cars. I stop at all stop signs and stop lights, and I take my place in the queue of vehicles at intersections.

    Publishing such a divisive message from an anonymous cyclist is irresponsible journalism, and does nothing to promote safe and responsible travel in our community. There are enough conflicts between bicyclists and motorists already without inflaming the situation with yet another unsubstantiated rant.

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