Monthly Archives: March 2011

Distracted driving- what can we do about it?

Distracted driving is not something cyclists can live with.

Driven by our multi-tasking culture that has deemed our cars are simply 4-wheeled extensions of our work desk, our kitchen table and even entertainment center, distracted driving is unquestionably becoming worse.

Presently the law is *NOT* working, as you can sit at *ANY* intersection, anywhere, and in very little time see a number of people with phones to their ears. Easy pickings for law enforcement, if they decided to make it a priority. They (CHP anyway) claim it is a priority, but I think otherwise. A 2-officer operation could nab a huge number of offenders. For that matter, why do we have red light cameras but not cell phone cameras? True, they’d have to take a photo of every car, and a real live person would have to cull through them, but it would be a lot easier than having officers handing out tickets.

But given that it’s going to take time to change people’s attitudes while driving, what can we do in the meantime to avoid becoming a run-down-from-behind statistic? Some of it has to do with where we ride; I suspect that more-dangerous driving conditions are less-likely to see distracted drivers, because driving at those times comes closer to a full-time job. It’s when it seems like there’s little to do that people will be more-inclined to be stupid behind the wheel. Ironically that means that straighter roads and less-congestion¬†are probably more dangerous to cyclists than we believe. Picture Canada Road vs Kings Mtn. I have yet to see someone yakking or texting on the phone on Kings (although I’m sure it does happen), but see it often on Canada.

I have questions, not answers. Bright flashing tail lights in the daytime. Good thing? Intuitively I think so, but at the same time I’ve come across a sea of flashing headlights (while riding) and found it distracting, and at some point I think distracting moves from being good (getting noticed) to being bad (taking your attention away from other things you should be seeing). Could just be a matter of how bright that flashing light is. But to effectively engage the attention of a distracted driver, is anything less than a laser pointed straight into their retina going to do the job?

I look forward to a discussion of these points, from two entirely selfish standpoints. First, I’m out there on the road myself. Second, I don’t want people to get scared away from cycling because it’s bad for business. Sadly, this is too serious a point to warrant having a smiley after it. –Mike–

This road ain’t going nowhere. Not. Let’s enjoy West-side Old LaHonda while we can!

It’s funny the rituals you get into. When it was raining for months on end (or seemed to be), you get into the habit of waking up, opening the shades a bit and checking to see how wet the streets are. This morning, I knew it was going to be nice outside, but I still did exactly the same thing. Woke up, opened the shades a bit and expected to find wet streets. Thank goodness that’s over!

Just a few of us this morning, under bright skies with strong shadows, just the way I like it. Eric, George, Karen and, just for the run up to Skeggs, Marcus (that’s his usual gig; I don’t recall how long it’s been since he’s done the whole ride with us). A pretty easy pace up the hill, although I did try one hard interval, dropping back for a couple hundred meters and then sprinting back up to the lead group. I made it, but with nothing in the tank to spare (thanks partly to the beginning of a cold that I noticed coming on last night and can now confirm its quite real tonight).

This section of west-side Old LaHonda may not have much of a future

Road conditions were surprisingly good; most have held up well despite three solid weeks of rain. Most, not all. That crumbling section of west-side Old LaHonda is becoming narrower by the day, with a very soft, energy-sucking feel as you ride across it. There’s simply nothing supporting the asphalt they’ve dumped onto it, in a cheap attempt to keep the road intact. It’s not going to work; I got the feeling that a single truck driving over that section would be enough to do it in. There are many other areas where the surface is crumbling, but not in danger of falling away, as adjacent hillsides have slipped and basically changed the land the road sits on.

I doubt that the county has the funds to do much road reconstruction these days, and for the few homes along the road, it probably wouldn’t be too much of a hardship for them to have to either head up to Skyline or down to 84 if the road were split in two. The ideal situation for cyclists would be if there remained enough of a cow-path that we could still get through, but not cars.