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Wrong way cycling advocate wants to change traffic law
Dear Street Smarts, Q: I read your article today (Monday 5/28/12) and appreciate you printed it. For over 50 years, I was an avid bicycle rider, going without a car for many of those years. That all changed with the new law when I became so frightened by blind curves, aggressive car and bicycle drivers, the thought of a car coming up behind me at unsafe speed or not paying attention and breathing deadly exhaust. I gave up a real life pleasure. I am sorry to lose my casual rides, enjoying nature at my own pace, because some group of people decided the new way was 'better.' I don't ever recall the casualties 'the other way.' What I do know is that we are having too many horrible accidents and loss of life, mainly because drivers are not seeing bicyclists in time, or at all. I am not asking for the moon: I am asking that this law be reviewed and I hope eventually revoked. Santa Cruz would be an excellent place to start. Gloria Sams, Santa Cruz A: My family is from rural Kentucky. As a child, I was taught that it is safer to ride toward traffic so I can see drivers and they can see me. That may be the case on flat, straight, rural roads but not in congested urban settings where intersections are the prime location for cyclists and cars to collide, nor narrow, winding mountain roads with blind curves. And, remember, the bike rider always loses – worse in head-on collisions. Riding toward traffic also presents a head-to-head joust between wrong way cyclists and riders who are heading in the correct direction on the side of the road. A co-worker found herself in that very situation recently. She was riding with traffic in a bike lane, a cyclist was heading toward her and a large truck was in the traffic lane next to her. Having nowhere to go, she fell into the hillside. She suffered a few scrapes but was otherwise OK. The other cyclist kept going. Cycling experts and advocates say being predictable is one way for bike riders to improve their own safety on the road, besides wearing highly visible gear and obeying traffic laws. Riding the wrong way is not predictable, not safe and not legal -- unless otherwise posted, such as on High and Beach streets in Santa Cruz. Check out this study, http://www.bicyclinglife.com/Library/riskfactors.htm, the most careful study that took place in the 1990s and was published in the Institute of Transportation Engineers Journal in 1994, according to Kevin Karplus, a Street Smarts reader and former cycling advocate who co-founded People Power. As you'll see, “the study showed a 3.4-fold greater risk of collision with motor vehicles from riding the wrong way,” he said. “It also showed a 2.4-fold greater risk riding on the sidewalk rather than in the street.” Check out the Street Smarts Blog tomorrow, in which a reader questions the use of police officials to weigh in on Debbie Bulger's request for cycling expertise on the subject. Motorcycle safety class location moved, space available Space is still available in Scotts Valley Police Department's Civilian Motorcycle safety Class, which has been moved from Siltanen Park to Scotts Valley High School's parking lot, at 555 Glenwood Drive. Eleven of the 16 student slots have been filled, as of Wednesday, May 30. The course is 8 a.m to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 16. The cost is $250, which pays for lunch, a T-shirt and certificate of completion. The deadline to register is Friday, June 1. Under the guidance of five current and retired motorcycle savvy police officers, participants will learn road safety through various exercises, including picking up a downed motorcycle, mounting and dismounting a bike, figure 8s, maneuvering through various cone configurations and controlled braking. The money raised from the class will help offset the costs of the Scotts Valley Peace Officer’s Association-sponsored Cops ‘N’ Rodders Antique Car Show and Police Motorcycle Competition Friday and Saturday, July 20 and 21. Proceeds from those events go to youth scholarships, sports equipment for schools and events, including Sober Grad Night. For information, contact Sgt. Dave Ball, class organizer and instructor, at 440-5670 or email@example.com.
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