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Sharing the road

Original post made on Jun 30, 2008

Driving has taken on a whole new dimension now that summer's in full swing. There seem to be cyclists at every turn, whizzing down the road in throngs that take up half the lane.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, June 30, 2008, 10:40 AM

Comments (26)

Posted by SixtySe7en
a resident of Alamo
on Jun 30, 2008 at 4:57 pm

"You have 20 bicyclists going 20 mph and some lady pushing her baby carriage, talking on her cell phone and has a dog in the other hand," Kohnen said. "It's a disaster."

Yeah, thats what we drivers feel about the packs of spandex clad bicyclists-20 bicyclists doing 20 mph in the middle of the road, riding in rows of 3-4, weaving in and out of the bike lanes, blocking cars trying to go 25 mph. It's a disaster.

Posted by Driver
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Jun 30, 2008 at 8:49 pm

So bicyclists don't follow traffic rules, don't want to share the trails with pedestrians, and are generally snotty about the people who walk on trails. Sounds exactly like the attitude of the bicyclists in this area, for sure, especially the ones who ride in big groups.

Posted by Peak Oil
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Jul 1, 2008 at 9:08 am

I hope the price of gas goes up to $10 per gallon soon so there will be fewer inconsiderate drivers in big SUVs who feel entitled to the road and bully cyclists and more people actually using their bikes on the road for transportation. In Europe where the price of fuel is double the US the drivers have much more respect for cyclists on the road and there is less unnecessary automobile use and in general more rationally sized vehicles.

Posted by Phil Morton
a resident of another community
on Jul 1, 2008 at 9:49 am

Thanks for the article. I ride my bike a lot - in street clothes for errands, and wearing spandex for recreation. I would like to see my fellow cyclists observe the rules of the road more, and I would like to see motorists take the right of way when it is theirs. I get frustrated when I come to a stop at a four way stop or something like that and a motorist who has the right of way waves me through. It's a good thing that the motorist notices me. Still, I want to be taken seriously, as the equal of a car.

The ordinance proposed in Alameda County that you refer to is ill-conceived and should be scrapped. It would only apply to special events for which riders pay an admission fee. The groups your article refers to do not fall in that category.

As Robert Raburn points out the more bicyclists become part of the landscape the more motorists will notice us, and everyone will be safer. We'll all benefit from using the road network more effectively, and we can all enjoy the equable climate here for exercising outdoors all year round.

Posted by Randy
a resident of another community
on Jul 1, 2008 at 10:24 am

It's too bad people are used to cyclists breaking the rules. When I'm on my bike I stop at stop signs, but most drivers will wave me through, contrary to the right-of-way.

If I wanted to blow the stop sign, I would have. You got there first in your car, you go first. I can't track-stand forever, so quit holding us all up and go already.

Posted by cyndi lee
a resident of Danville
on Jul 2, 2008 at 11:57 am

It's too bad that so many car drivers don't realize that cyclists have just as much right to the roads as motorists.

Maybe some of that fat accumulating around their bellies has percolated up to their brains, making it difficult for them to engage in a simple task such as reading the vehicle code.

Posted by David
a resident of Danville
on Jul 2, 2008 at 5:13 pm

Wow- Cyndi, you really issues.

Posted by Barb H.
a resident of Danville
on Jul 2, 2008 at 6:27 pm

I am both a motorist who obeys the laws and an avid road cyclist who obeys the laws, as well as a cycle coach. I probably see as many motorists making mistakes or disobeying the laws (especially pertaining to right-of-way issues) as I see cyclists doing the same. I'd like to see people just obey the rules of the road, and if motorists aren't familiar with the CA vehicle code, they should become familiar with it. When obstacles exist on the right side of the road, cyclists have every right to move into the road and "take the lane".

As far as being a resident of Danville, I was very discouraged when the bike lane was taken away on Railroad Avenue. Now there is no place EXCEPT the middle of the road for cyclists to ride. Too close to the right hand side of the ride means being possibly "doored" by motorists who don't look behind them before opening their doors.

Riding on the Iron Horse Trail is not a great alternative for road cyclists. In fact, I consider it dangerous for cyclists because of the multi-purpose-designated use of the trail: pedestrians of all ages, recreational cyclists, skaters, dog walkers etc. And many of these are wearing I-pods, which makes passing them extremely precarious.

If both motorists and cyclists just obeyed the law, I think much of the animosity between the two groups would disappear.

Posted by Cyclist
a resident of another community
on Jul 2, 2008 at 6:28 pm

Often cyclists must "weave" in and out of the bike lane because of the Hartz Ave. used car lot. Prospective buyers stop thir own cars in the bike lane to look at the cars for sale, or walk in the bike lane with their back to traffic, not concerned at all that a cyclist riding in the bike lane will have to leave the lane in order to avoid them. Since Danville Blvd has no sidewalks you also have many pedestrians obstructing the bike lanes. Danville should consider an ordinance forbidding parked cars with for sale signs on its streets, or enforcing such an ordinance if it has one. Danville should also consider sidewalks for pedestrians. It was a mistake to remove the bike lane on Railroad. Bikes must ride in bike lanes, but when there are no bike lanes or when you allow people and cars to obstruct them, your hallowed streets are going to be used by cyclists. Get over it.

Posted by Dolores
a resident of Danville
on Jul 2, 2008 at 8:18 pm

For the story on those cars for sale on Danville Boulevard, go to Web Link

Posted by Cyclist/motorist/and member of the community
a resident of Alamo
on Jul 3, 2008 at 9:25 am

I have to agree with Phil and Randy, it would be nice if both motorists and bikers obey the laws. Waving bikers through on a four way stop is actually more frustrating for the biker than just taking your turn efficiently.

Keeping everyone safe is definitely a dual-responsibility. At the end of the day, however, no matter who is at fault, a collision will have much greater consequences for the biker (though I imagine the mental anguish of living with yourself after hurting or killing a biker would also be great). I doubt motorists who do not ride recognize how harrowing rides can be...without our diligent, alert approach to riding, my husband or I would be injured at least once every ride.

To echo others, the iron horse trail is not a realistic alternative and would only serve to a) get a bunch of riders to break the law by speeding (>15 mph) on the trail and b) put pedestrians/familys/dogs/and other users at risk. The trail could only be an alternative if the paved area was designated specifically for bikes with pedestrians using the non-paved areas (as other cities do).

Regardless, we'll all (cyclists AND motorists) be much better off if the cell phone law is effective. This morning I was encouraged to only count 2 people using their phones while driving instead of the usual 30-50%.

Posted by RJDM
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Jul 3, 2008 at 10:48 am

I'm actually from Lafayette, and I race for one of the local road racing teams.

When I'm in a different town, city, or part of the world I like to go by the old rule, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."

In other words, when I'm in Danville I like to yield to the locals when and wherever there's a driveway, walkway, stop sign, etc. I also like to cut the local motorists some slack when it comes to lane space, etc., but I also gotta have some room. If there's parked cars or glass in the bike lane, then I'm gonna take some space for a bit in the road. Re stop signs, I see just as many cars rolling and blowing signs, not using their turn signals as I do cyclists. The problem is on both ends.

And coming from direct experience, the trails around here are not an option for cyclists. Using the trails makes it dangerous for the many pedestrians and runners who use them. Realistically, those trails should be left for dog walkers, a casual stroll with a good friend, a mind clearing jog before or after work, etc. Let those people have their space.

I remember being in Germany and France a few years ago when gas cost about $5 or $6 U.S. I was amazed at the number of bikes on the road and at train stations. I was in Karlsrue, Germany for a monday holiday and all I saw were families on bikes together. With gas prices what they are, this problem of bike riders and car drivers may just take care of itself. Like the Euro's, we may not have much choice but to migrate toward a "bike culture".

There is so much room for all of us out there. Be respectful. Look out for each other. We're all mom's and dad's, sons and daughters. If I treat you like you were a family friend or even relative, instead of an obstacle for me to negotiate, I know chances are both you and I'll get home safe. My 7 year old will have his dad to play with and your family will have one of their favorite people another day.

Safe journey.

Posted by David
a resident of Danville
on Jul 3, 2008 at 1:05 pm

Pedestrians walking in the bike lane, potholes, glass, tree limbs, and this morning garbage cans forced me to ride into the lane on Danville Blvd. Also, on Railroad Ave the congestion is essentially 2 blocks long. If a bicycle is forced to ride in the lane because of opening doors, etc. it's not a life altering delay for a driver. We can all share the road. I ride regularly on Sycamore and Camino Tassajara and there is always debris in the bike lane as well as poor road surfaces at points. Drivers have to realize that often times a bicycle is in the right lane and not in the bike lane for a reason.

Posted by JQ
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 3, 2008 at 3:09 pm

Lets keep a little perspective here. In the past few months on my daily (non-bicycle) commute, I've seen other drivers: eating breakfast, including one person eating cold cereal from a bowl using both hands, shaving, putting on makeup, reading newspapers, programming their GPS’s, using their Blackberries, fooling around with their radios, and I don't need to mention how many I see talking on their cell phones. And of course, there are the ubiquitous erratic, incompetent, and aggressive drivers, drunk drivers, seriously sleep deprived drivers, stoned drivers, etc. All to often I see cars blow by me on the freeway at 100+ MPH. How often do you see a driver blow through a red light, and really, be honest, how rare is it that we actually see a car come to a full stop at a stop sign? You know, the good ol’ "California Stop". I was stopped at a red light recently behind another car, and apparently the guy decided he had stopped long enough and just drove on through long before it turned green. How often do you see drivers shoot across four lanes on a busy freeway because they are about to miss their off-ramp?

Drivers don't come close to taking the task of driving seriously enough, and tens of thousands pay the price every year.

Sure, there are poorly behaved cyclists who blow stop signs and such, and generally ride unsafely, but there are many thousands of bad drivers for each of those cyclists, whose behavior is far worse, far more dangerous, and far more destructive. Those drivers cause thousands of deaths each year. But the behavior of those drivers is just accepted as part of the driving experience, while cyclists, even the well behaved ones, are vilified.

Posted by OnABike
a resident of another community
on Jul 3, 2008 at 4:36 pm

I think we could all improve on our habits to share the road. Drivers should, however, have a little more respect for people on bikes. Really, how hard is it to push the brake or gas and turn the steering wheel? Why are most drivers in such a hurry anyway? Did you sit in traffic on the "freeway" taking 1 hour to go 7 miles? Ride a bike and get there faster, be healthy, sleep better and enjoy life. Cycling is good for body, mind and spirit. If we could only get rid of those pesky cars the world would be a much better place.

Posted by Mike C
a resident of Danville
on Jul 5, 2008 at 12:55 am

"Yeah, thats what we drivers feel about the packs of spandex clad bicyclists-20 bicyclists doing 20 mph in the middle of the road, riding in rows of 3-4, weaving in and out of the bike lanes, blocking cars trying to go 25 mph. It's a disaster."

Speak for yourself.

Posted by Mike C
a resident of Danville
on Jul 5, 2008 at 1:03 am

Can I just ask what the big deal is when you forced to wait the 30 seconds (or maybe even 2 minutes...) it takes to *safely* pass a "gaggle of spandex"?

Honestly, I think if you can't budget in how ever much time it takes to pass a group of cyclists, you probably have some bigger time management issues to deal with...

Posted by Driver
a resident of Blackhawk
on Jul 8, 2008 at 2:12 pm

Can I just ask what the big deal is for bicyclists to ride single file in the bike lane, instead of 4 across, all talking and socializing while riding?

Honestly, if you can't deal with riding a bicycle in single file instead of right next to 3 others, you probably have some bigger issues to deal with.

Posted by Bud
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 14, 2008 at 10:29 pm

Good article. Hey, anyone ever have any trouble with a group of bicyclists who ride old fashioned style bikes on the Iron Horse Trail? On Tuesday nights about 20+ riders from this group ride all over the trail forcing walkers, runners and moms with kids off the pavement and into the dirt. These people lack trail etiquette. A friend of mine was told to run in the dirt when he complained about this group riding to close to him on the pavement. I personally have had a runner almost run into me because he was forced off the path by this group. The bottom line is that we all have to share this trail. Please be more considerate towards others.

Posted by Brian
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 15, 2008 at 5:43 pm

Oh, come on! I ride that route from San Ramon to Lafayette every day on my commute to work. Sure there are "gaggles of spandex", but how frequently? A large group every five minutes? Puh-leeez! Not even close! There are probably only a handful of gaggles in a day. Annoyed by cyclists talking and socializing? Take a chill pill. Chances are when you drive that road the next day they won't be there. Car traffic, on the other hand, is constant in that area. Cars sometimes have to deal with cyclists. Cyclists *always* have to deal with cars.

Posted by Loner B Gaggleless
a resident of Danville
on Jul 15, 2008 at 9:38 pm

OMG! Cyclists were TALKING and socializing? You should have hung up your cell phone and called the freakin' police.

Posted by Mark
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 17, 2008 at 9:50 am

I bike to work from San Ramon to Shadelands 2-3X per week. I try to stay off Iron Horse (too many pedestrians, children, dogs, and runners to contend with) and I try to stay in the bike lanes, but sometimes I have to go in the streets. It’s really unavoidable: the bike lanes are not as well maintained as the auto lanes (debris, garbage cans, drains, tree limbs, etc.), and at any rate bikes are allowed to ride there. I try to be as considerate as possible to bikers when I’m driving and to drivers when I’m biking (as I’m sure the vast majority of both do), but of course I’m not a perfect driver nor am I a perfect biker. The reality of the situation is that on the bike I’m obviously much more vulnerable than in the car.

I can share a number of positive stories about gracious drivers, but there are a couple of nasty driver stories I want to share: (1) Once a lady in a Navigator almost killed my as she ran through a stop sign (it would be generous to call what she did a “California Stop”). She was talking on her cell phone and farding at the same time (Google it if you’re not familiar with the term). After she nearly hit me she drove by and started yelling obscenities! It was too funny! (2) Last week, at the corner of Rudgear and Danville, a passenger hung his head out of the window, started yelling obsenities about bikers at my friend and me, and threw a bottle at us. Very classy!

These two people don’t represent the vast majority of considerate drivers.

Posted by Todd
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 17, 2008 at 5:26 pm

I started to bike to work on a fairly regular basis 3 years ago. Over 6,000 commute miles, and 80+ pounds lost since. I have seen cyclists blow through stop signs in Danville, and other unsafe violations of the vehicle code. I don't condone it at all. I also think it reflects poorly on the vast majority of riders who are out there doing the right thing. However, I have witnessed FAR worse behavior and more frequent, from drivers. I have had stuff yelled at me when I was doing nothing more than riding peacefully in the bike lane, cars coming up right next to me and blaring the horn to "shock me." Cars intentionally or unintentionally swerving into the bike lane going over 50 MPH and nearly hitting me which would undoubtedly end my life on the spot. I have almost been hit three times at the Ironhorse crossing at drivers who blow through a stale RED light (maybe they don't expect to see a stop light there or maybe the sun is in their eyes on the morning commute..I don't know but it is incredibly scary and I am super cautious going through that light when I take the trail). I have had drivers make illegal left turns from a non-turn lane and force me in between two cars. I have been bounced off the side of a van in Alamo. I have had three cars make left turns right into me because apparently they didn't see my front lights flashing on my bike. Two finally saw me at the last second...the other I had to nearly lay my bike down to avoid getting hit.

As for Ironhorse....I also follow the rules of ettiquite there. But I see tons of people wearing headphones who are completely unaware of their surroundings and don't always maintain a straight line. Numerous people walking large breed dogs, on 'string' leashes that they cannot control. I have had two unrestrained dogs chase me. I have come accross numerous 'gaggles' of ladies walking 4 or 5 accross on the trail too engaged in conversation or not really caring enough to respond to my calls of "On your left." A number of them get irritated that I ask them to make room for me to pass. Some elderly ladies have yelled at me for not "calling out" despite me doing so 3-4 times but their conversation or poor hearing interferes. I have had the same group of ladies on another day get startled and yell at me for being too loud with my call outs (seriously I can't win).

Some things I have learned since I have started cycling to work:
1) You have to be hyper vigilante when you are driving. Cyclists can be everywhere and not all have flashing lights and brightly colored outfits. Once you seriously start riding you realize just how exposed you are out there.
2) If a cyclist screws up (runs a stop sign, or a red light, etc.) they run a huge risk of ending their life not the life of the driver of the car. Cyclists may seem like an annoyance to drivers....but drivers of vehicles can become executioners with one bad decision (blown red light/stop sign, distracted driving etc.)
3) The majority of cyclists due obey the traffic laws and want nothing more than to be left alone to make it safely to their destinations. But there are a lot of drivers, and passengers of cars who don't want to peacefully coexist with cyclists. It's not uncommon to have drivers flip the bird, scream profanities, throw things out their cars, drive aggressively towards cyclists, etc. So's really the cyclists exhibiting the boorish, unacceptable behavior? Many folks forget, most cyclists own cars and many used to commute some or most of their miles by car...they know that side of the equation. What would be instructive is if some of the folks with unflattering views of cyclists, started to ride to work on a bike. Do it for about a month and you will: 1) fall in love with it, 2) get in better shape, 3) reduce stress, 4) feel better, 5) look better, 6) improve your health, 7) reduce traffic and air pollution in your community AND 8) you will understand better where cyclists are coming from.

Posted by Scott
a resident of Danville
on Aug 10, 2008 at 11:19 pm

Spend some time in France and you'll realize that cars and bikes can co-exist. Over there, cyclists are revered because EVERYONE is a cyclist: from 5 year olds to 65 year olds, everyone rides, nearly everyone races or rides in club/group rides. It's a way of life, it's healthy, and as Americans are quickly finding out, it's cheap transportation too. Yes, the road system needs to be better designed with wider shoulders, traffic circles, better off-road paths etc, but that's not happening overnight.

For now, drivers need to just BE PATIENT with cyclists and share the road. A group of cyclists that adds 5 minutes to your trip time is no different than coming upon a traffic jam of cars. Both have equal rights to the road. Seeing cyclists should make you feel good, knowing that they are out there keeping their bodies healthy, having fun, and not polluting the environment.

Posted by Scott
a resident of Danville
on Aug 10, 2008 at 11:24 pm

"Can I just ask what the big deal is for bicyclists to ride single file in the bike lane, instead of 4 across, all talking and socializing while riding?

Honestly, if you can't deal with riding a bicycle in single file instead of right next to 3 others, you probably have some bigger issues to deal with."

Can I ask why all the motorists on 680 don't drive in the right lane only and let me drive past them at 85mph in the left lane?

Group riding is a social sport, it's fun, it's healthy, and a big group riding 2 abreast isn't going to inconvenience you more than a few minutes every few days or weeks at most even along the same route.

As the driver of a 3,000 lb car, you have a responsibility to be safe and safeguard the lives of all those around you, other drivers, bikes, walkers, whether or not they're in "your way" and whether or not you like what they're doing.

Posted by Scott
a resident of Danville
on Aug 10, 2008 at 11:26 pm

And BTW, I dream of the day when gas is $20/gallon and I can ride my bike on 880, 680, 80, with 50,000 other cyclists and not a car in sight. Cars are the problem, not bikes. Next time you get fumed because you have to slow down for a bike, maybe that would be a good time to reflect on why you are in such a big hurry and why you aren't out on a bike yourself.

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