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

Assume they don’t see you, no matter how lit up you are at night

Two flashing tail lights, one flashing front light, one steady. Yes, I’m visible as I head down the road. Visible enough that the car that cut me off at the intersection either wasn’t looking or just didn’t care.

Does this mean it’s unsafe to be out riding at night, or in the daytime for that matter? If you aren’t paying attention, sure. But it’s unsafe doing lots of things if you aren’t paying attention. But let’s think about what we’re seeing here. A car is illegally (I think) exiting the gas station and crossing a solid double yellow line to try and head north on Alameda. I believe the only legal exit from this gas station involves making a right turn onto Jefferson. OK, I’m seeing this one from a block away and it’s already played out in my mind, pretty much exactly as it came down. The car is stuck behind another car until the light changes, and then he just goes… turning right in front of me, as if I weren’t there. Sometimes you just gotta wonder. But if you always assume they don’t see you; if you look ahead and anticipate the worst, you should be able to ride almost as safely at night as in the daytime.

Ride report from this morning? Kevin stayed home (not feeling well again), so just me, the other Kevin, Eric, JR, Jan, Mark P and JR. A bit on the cool side; first time I’ve seen 30-something show up on my computer. That’s ok; you warm up quickly when you hit the hill, and it’s a bit warmer up on top. Nobody was racing today, but Jan was getting over something and not feeling so hot so I stayed back to keep an eye on him and make sure he was OK. It’s a whole lot easier for me to check up on the rear than the front! At Skyline Jan sent us on, preferring to ride a bit more slowly as he recovered from his bug. Along the way (on Skyline) we picked up Milo, who hasn’t been with us in ages. He says he now remembers why he hasn’t been riding with us; something about wanting to enjoy riding at a bit more reasonable speed going uphill. My guess is that he’s not quite as addicted to Strava as some of us are!

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Why do we think it’s OK to be oblivious when we ride?

Plain simple truth is this. When we drive a car, we’re constantly having to change speed or direction, sometimes quickly, to avoid a collision with another driver who’s doing something idiotic. Changing lanes into us, screaming through a left-hand-turn light that’s red before they get to it, or just plain running through a light that just turned red. Admit it. It happens all the time. And the only reason we’re around to talk about it is because, when we were driving, we noticed it and took action.

I’ll bet this has happened to most of us several times this week, and we don’t pay it any attention because it’s just kind of normal. We know that we have to watch out for others when we’re driving. People do stupid things all the time.

So why, when we’re out on a ride and this happens once in a while, are we so shocked? Why do we act like we have (or should have) some sort of zone of benevolence, as if we’re surrounded by a force field that protects us from all evil while we enjoy our ride?

I’m not saying that it’s not the car’s fault when they do something stupid and take out a cyclist. No question there. But much of it is preventable. That’s my politically-incorrect statement. That we have more control over our own safety than we are sometimes willing to accept. That it’s kind of silly that we whine so much about how stupid and dangerous cars are when we’re on a bike, and yet we accept that same behavior, and drive accordingly, when we’re in a car.

Roads are shared. Shared by bikes, shared by cars, shared by pedestrians. We all have to be looking out for one another. We can all likely do better. We have to expand our responsibilities beyond the confines of the steel walls of our car or some magical 3 foot safe zone that the law has created around us. We have to realize that it’s wrong when you’re riding down the road and a pedestrian who’s started to cross the street sees us as steps back and apologizes to us when we should be apologizing to them.

Shared roads means shared responsibility. And as we know, some are more responsible than others. Sometimes we have to shoulder more of the responsibility for something than we wish, at work, at home, and we think it’s unfair and you can win or lose that argument and it’s not going to kill you. But when you’re out on the road, in a car, or on your bike, you have to assume that you’re more-responsible for the safety of others on that roadway than anybody else. And that’s going to help keep you alive.  –Mike–

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