Category Archives: Advocacy & Local Issues

Bicycle advocacy both local and national, as well as discussion of local bicycle incidents with the community and/or police

Imagine airplanes flying without transponders. Like riding a bike without flashing lights?

GCN (Global Cycling Network) might be one of the reasons we see, or don’t see, so many cyclists on the road. It can be dark and drizzly, and GCN is out there, promoting black kit (apparel) and no flashing lights either front or rear.

Ah, winter. The time of year it’s darker, drizzly if not raining, and we see so many cyclists up on Skyline in black kit (apparel) and no flashing lights. As it warms up and gets sunnier, they move to their “team” kits that are often brightly colored… but still, of course, no lights. Not everyone; there remains a pretty goodly number of people who keep wearing black as long as they can, probably giving up only when they feel that wearing black on an 80F degree day leads to overheating. However, I’m pretty sure there’s a widespread contest to see who can wear black on the hottest day of the year.

Another frame confirming the lack of daytime lights.

I don’t get it. Sure, in the finale of Star Trek Picard, the USS Titan, piloted by Seven of Nine, buys enough time for Picard to save humanity by using a cloaking device. Being invisible can have its advantages. But not when out on a highway shared with cars moving at even moderate speed. Whether you want to be seen or not, you need to be seen.

In this area, we ride our road bikes almost exclusively on shared roadway, shared with other bikes, cars, trucks & motorcycles. We cannot expect a carefree, bucolic experience, yet we can still have a pretty darned safe and enjoyable ride, if we take just a few simple steps to make it easier for people to see us, if we use technology to know what’s behind us, if we ride actively aware that not everybody on the road is being careful.

Should you have to do that? Sure, it’s a choice, but why would you exercise less care riding a bike than you would driving a car? Think about how many times you avoided a collison, had a near miss, because you saw someone merging into your space on the freeway? Or racing to get through a just-turned-red light? It happens frequently.

I used to think it was being paranoid to have not just one, but two or three flashing lights on the back of my bike. On my commute home it is frequently three; a helmet light, my Garmin Varia 715 radar w/light, and an older flashing light that I attach to my seatbag. The most-important is the sturdily-mounted Varia 715, because it’s at the exact right angle to be seen by a motorist behind me. The others will attract attention from varying angles as they move around a bit. For my longer, “recreational” rides, just two lights, the Garmin Varia and the seatbag mounted.

And on the front, a single bright Bontrager headlight set to flashing mode. Some cyclists still wonder, do you need a light up front, since you can see what’s in front of you? Absolutely, yes! I’ve seen so many double-takes when somebody didn’t initially see me, then caught my flashing light. Cars coming from intersections are more dangerous than you think, because you’re making a (logical) assumption they’re not going to jet out right as you pass.

I don’t think having to do all this is an “I’m asking for it if I don’t” mentality. It’s just trying to stay safe and make it home in one piece so I can keep on having great rides for a long time to come.

Never again. What can we do to stop the carnage?

It’s Tuesday. I shouldn’t be here, taking this photo. But a cyclist was killed yesterday afternoon, around 5pm, on Canada Road. A road with incredibly-long sight lines so there really shouldn’t be surprises.

After climbing Kings we immediately headed back down, so we’d have time to get to “where it happened” and try to make sense of it. That’s one of those things I do, try to make sense of things. Over the years, that’s brought me to a number of spots where a cyclist had recently died in a collison with a car or truck. How did it happen. And, from experience over many decades, what is it the CHP might miss, or believe not relevant.

Bike parts in the weeds.

The guy was heading north on Canada. That red circle towards the bottom, just left of center,  is the first of many markings placed on the pavement by the CHP investigators. They didn’t do a very good job of cleaning up; sure, they only had 2.5 hours of daylight left, but why didn’t they come out the next morning? Kevin and I (and, later, Becky) found a lot of bike parts in the field to the right of the roadway. Heavier parts closer, lighter parts further, as you’d expect when something is hit violently from behind.

There is nothing to be learned from those bits and pieces? What about the smashed up remains of the cyclist’s wahoo heart monitor? Did that not mean something to anybody? The force and location of the impact.

The blood on the roadway. Some of it located within circled areas, most of it just spread across the tarmac. That seems wrong. We have greater respect for the fear of a car burning so we hose down whatever is left when a car strikes a car, and less respect for the remains of someone’s last moments (Becky and I went back again late in the day; it appears someone did come in and clean things up).

We had to leave with more questions than answers, and after looking at the photos later, found a few things that had to be checked out some more. Becky volunteered to head out and check it out herself; she became pretty distressed, figuring out what the circles were about. As Becky was looking for clues, many cyclists were riding through, unaware they were riding through the remains of another cyclist.

Canada Road could use something like this, to slow cars down.

Canada Road. Why is it designed like a speedway? When 280 gets backed up, many use it as a way to speed around the blockage. That’s not a legit reason to maintain it as a high-speed throughfare, and the only “local” traffic is for the Filoli estate and the Pulgas Water Temple. It’s speed should be 25-30mph and the design changed to make it impossible to do 100+mph high school drag races. Why not install traffic calming curves and obstacles like Junipero Serra has near the Stanford campus?

It’s time for something to be done. I’ve visited enough places where cyclists have been killed by motorists.