Tuesday, November 25, 2008

as more cyclists and more motorists crowd our city streets and rural highways, the two groups are going to have to coexist

I found this article the other day and I think it realy makes some great points that I totally agree with.. I have edited out all the things that were specific to the jurisdiction of Sacramento so...

The Conversation: Can bikes and cars coexist?
Drivers are asked to share the road, and bicyclists need to do their part

By Daniel Weintraub

Driving home from work after dark a couple of weeks ago, I was just about to turn left off a busy commercial street near my house when I spied, out of the black, a cyclist coming at me from the opposite direction. He was clad in dark clothes, had no light or visible reflectors on his bike, and was powering, head down, as fast as he could go.

I paused, muttered something to myself, then prepared to turn again. This time I saw a second bike, which at least had a tiny, dim light, and I waited for him to pass as well. Figuring there might be one more, I peered into the darkness, and when I didn't see anything, I began my turn. Half way through the intersection I took a final glance out my passenger window and saw, coming at me, one more cyclist without a light. I sped up and made it through safely as he passed behind me.

The experience left me rattled. And mad. As a frequent cyclist myself, I know how dangerous riding a bike on city streets can be. I also know that many motorists have no patience for bikes and those who ride them. Riders such as the ones I encountered on my commute that night are one big reason why.

But as more cyclists and more motorists crowd our city streets and rural highways, the two groups are going to have to coexist. With gas prices volatile and expected to rise again with worldwide economic growth, more people are leaving their cars at home. Some cyclists who could drive to work still prefer to ride, for the health of it.

But there remains significant conflict and misunderstanding, about the rules of the road. Many motorists I encounter while I am riding act as if they think that bikes have no right to use the streets, or, if they do ride, should stay on the shoulder.

On the road, it is cars that pose the bigger hazard, although some cyclists push their luck.

Cyclists must ride as near to the edge of the roadway as "practical." But practical is in the eye of the beholder. It is generally not practical, and can be dangerous, to ride on a rutted or trash-strewn shoulder. As a result, it is common for people to ride on the edge of the road rather than on the shoulder. It is also hazardous for cyclists to ride within inches of parked cars, since people frequently open their doors without looking back to see if any bikes are coming.

When there is no shoulder at all, bikes are free to ride in the road, and they may ride in the middle of the road if the lane is too narrow for a car and bike to travel safely side by side. Also, if they are moving at the legal speed limit, bikes may use the entire road, although doing so can be unsafe since drivers often speed and fail to see a bike they are overtaking.

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