Contact Street Smarts
Cyclist shares her concerns, questions stop light sensors
Dear Street Smarts, A: I have been most interested in your articles about bicycles on the road, thank you for writing them and please keep it up. If bicyclists and motorists are to coexist peacefully, I believe we require an ongoing dialog to establish consistent behavior patterns from bicyclists and respect from motorists. The following are my own opinions, and many in both the bicycling and motoring communities may strongly disagree with me. First of all, I am writing as a middle-aged, plump, out-of-shape person who regularly rides a bicycle to and from work, with grocery stops on the way home. Hopefully, as the world changes, more and more people of all shapes and sizes will discover the joys of riding. And, I want to give a big ‘Thank You’ to most motorists in the Santa Cruz area, for the courtesy you extend me as I ride. To other bicyclists, I ask: Please ride on the right side of the road. When you ride on the left side in the bicycle lane, you scare me badly when we come head-to-head, and you usually force me into the car lane before I really have a chance to look behind me and make sure it is safe. If you insist on riding the wrong way in the bike lane, then kindly put your own body at risk by using the car lane and riding into the face of traffic. If that idea seems unsafe to you, well, it is unsafe. Riding on the right side is simply much safer for all concerned. Also, please obey the traffic laws at least as much as motorists do, especially with regards to stop lights and stop signs. To motorists I would like to point out: Most of you don't make full and complete stops at stop signs either, especially if you are making a right turn, and the same goes when you exit a driveway. So please don't honk at me for ‘merely’ slowing down to a near-stop at the four-way stop sign, as long as I am taking my turn with the rest of traffic. Also, if I am in the middle of the car lane instead to the right, most likely I have a real reason for that -- either I am turning left soon or I feel my safety depends on it. Finally, the bicycle lane is a traffic lane. Please, check carefully before entering it for whatever reason, just as you would the other lanes of traffic. Concerning stop lights that are red until a vehicle triggers it: is there any place I can report lights that don't register bicyclists (specifically, the one at Capitola Road and 30th Avenue)? And if I do make a report, will the sensor be permanently fixed? Because I know for a fact the sensor can be set to register bicycles and switch the light. And, if my weight does not trigger that light, I am probably going to run it -- as, frankly, I see motorists run red lights that don't turn green. Although, I much prefer to legally wait for the light to change. My final comment for today: Traffic safety is the responsibility of all, just as the right to use the roads belongs to all. Thank you for letting me vent. Although I have many more opinions about how things should be different concerning bicyclists and motorists, I will give your ‘ears’ a break now. Happy riding!! Sincerely, B.J. Crawford, via email A:Thank you for your letter. You are right on target with your concern for cyclists and motorists. I hope they are “listening.” As for the traffic light, Steve Jesberg, Capitola’s public works department director, says he’ll have a crew look at it and make the appropriate adjustments as soon as possible.
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