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A note to cyclists

Original post made by Qwerty, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2010

There are a lot of people out on bikes either for commuting or exercise which is great to see. However, I've seen a lot of risky and unsafe behavior. The following is a list of things that we wish cyclists would adhere to when out on the road. I'm not denigrating cyclists (as I am one myself) but wish people would be more careful.

(1) Wear a helmet:
It is not worth the risk to go without one. If you slip and fall or get in a car accident, you are automatically going to lose whether you were in the right or not. I see far too many people, children and teenagers especially, who ride their bikes in the bike lane or in traffic who aren't wearing a helmet. One slip up and they could end up dead or severely injured particularly if a vehicle is involved in a crash. Read the following for a very sobering account of what can happen even if you are in an area that you think is safe.

Web Link
(caution: it is quite graphic)

(2) Adjust your helmet properly:
When I do see people wearing helmets, many of them are wearing them improperly. For example, many of the kids at Foothill or Amador are wearing helmets that are pushed back on their hear, thereby exposing their forehead. If they fell forward they could hit their head and the injury might not be too different from what would happen if they weren't wearing any helmet at all. The straps should be adjusted so that a fall does not cause the helmet to be pushed back.

(3) Use hand signals at stoplights and intersections:
We understand why many cyclists might ride two abreast or down the middle of a narrow and busy road such as main street. We wouldn't want to see anyone get hit by a person opening their car door either. However, when cyclists are in the road just like the cars are, it is imperative that they indicate which way they plan to turn when they approach an intersection. If they ride down the middle of the road and act as if they *might* go through the intersection, but then suddenly turn left or right, this could create havoc if the car behind them didn't realize this. I've seen cars and cyclists get in minor crashes when this exact thing happened. cyclists are usually the automatic loser in such situations. Using hand signals takes no time at all and can help make the roadways safer.

(4) Ride predictably:
Please hold your line and try to ride in a predictable fashion, particularly if you are not riding in the shoulder either because you can't (due to debris) or if there isn't a shoulder and you have to ride in the roadway. When cyclists weave in and out of the shoulder or from the side to the middle of the road in back, it creates an unsafe situation for cars or other cyclists behind them, particularly if they are thinking of passing the wobbly rider. Buy a set of rollers if you need to work on bike handling skills :)

(5) Please make it easy for cars to pass:
I've been on roads like foothill, sunol and calaveras, when cyclists have been riding 2-3 abreast in the middle of the road even when cars are piling up behind them. If a driver taps his or her horn lightly, that's not a sign of annoyance or frustration. Some drivers will do that as a courtesy to let cyclists know that there are a line of cars behind them that might like to pass or are about to pass them. They want the cyclists to know that a car is coming up so they won't be surprised by it and will hold their line as the cars pass. On more than one occasion It's really rude when cyclist respond to a tap on the horn by fanning out and blocking the roadway instead of singling up. When cyclists display such bad manners, they then have no right to complain about antagonistic drivers because that sort of behavior only fuels the fire. Think about it. It is to everyone's advantage to let the cars pass and get out of the way of the cyclists. If singling up can make it possible for cars to pass, then the cyclist should do exactly that instead of blocking the road.

Comments (9)

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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Mar 5, 2010 at 4:19 pm


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Posted by john
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2010 at 8:20 am

# 5 the most annoying aspect of many bikers. Just have to go down foot hill on the wkend to see it. Like little chatty girls, they ride 2 and 3 abreast on a 40-45mph road. You will not believe this until you see it for yourself. Go ahead and toot your horn to let them know you are coming up behind and watch the affect.
And yes, I do ride my bike everyday to work, but I would never dream of being such an jerk.

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Posted by john
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2010 at 8:31 am

you must be a cyclist, as your suggestions are reasonable, and not the usual 'stay out of my way or you deserve what you get' advice that i often read. i would say that a 'polite tap' on the horn is very subjective - i usually know when a car is behind, and if i don't, a blast from a horn serves to scare the crap out of me, and evoke an angry response. It's always the exceptional driver and the exceptional cyclist that cause problems, most behave just fine. Drivers should always remember that cars can kill, and do.

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Posted by Concerned resident
a resident of Country Fair
on Mar 8, 2010 at 9:23 am

For the reasons stated and in the web link, I think a helmet should always be worn by people of every age. I am much older than 18, but I would never ride anywhere without one. Even in your own neighborhood, you could fall unexpectedly, hit your head on the curb, and be a vegetable.
I disagree with adults who won't wear a helmet because the law doesn't require them to wear one. Don't they value having an intact brain for the rest of their lives? Also, wear it as an example for the under-18 group to show that everyone should always wear one for safety reasons and not just for those that the law applies to.
Then there are the adults who won't wear a helmet because it messes up their hair (generally women but not always). And there are the adults who won't wear a helmet because they think it is not macho to wear a helmet or they think that it is too sissy or that it is only for kids.
There are also some cyclists who have a philosophy that they are "entitled" to take up a traffic lane and they are going to do that because of that sense of entitlement. Legally, they are entitled to do that. However, they ignore the practicalities and realities that a cyclist is always the loser in a collision between a cyclist and any motor vehicle.
When I had a motorcycle many years ago, a more experienced motorcyclist told me "to always ride as though you are invisible to everyone else on the road." In other words, assume that drivers will not see you and that they will ride right through you. That does happen with motorcyclists.
I use the same defensive approach when riding a bicycle.
Regarding adults wearing a bicycle helmet, has anyone ever seen Lance Armstrong riding a bike without a helmet on? I haven't. He's macho and he can wear a helmet. Everyone else should too.
I also see a lot of kids who wear a helmet but don't buckle the strap. For someone like that, the helmet will not be on their head by the time they fall or get hit and their head hits the pavement or a car. The helmet will be off by then, which is when it is most needed. That practice by many kids is a macho thing and kind of a rogue thing of appearing to comply with the law but not completing complying, with the result being that their heads are not going to be protected when an accident occurs.

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Posted by PBear
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Mar 8, 2010 at 9:55 am

Rudeness begets rudeness, and it goes both ways. I'm a cyclist myself, but I'm also a driver too. Not sure what the cycling laws are in Pleasanton, but even though the law may be on the cyclists side (on narrow roads below a certain width, they're allowed to ride 2 abreast), I don't believe it necessarily means they should do so at the expense of keeping motor vehicle traffic flowing. 2 abreast when traffic allows, but temporarily single file when it gets backed up. How hard is that? We all realize that cyclist should also be considered vehicular traffic on the roads, but cyclists are only tempting fate when not riding defensively (ie with safety in mind). Seriously, should cyclists be content to move only at walking pace if hikers fanned out on the trails on purpose and not make room to pass?

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Posted by mark
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Bikes shouldnt be allowed on any roads that cars use. The government should outlaw it. They make laws that mandate things like seatbelts, carseats, airbags, crumple-zones, ABS, etc. All things to protect human life while on the road. Since bikes cannot have these safety devices, they should not be allowed on the same roads.

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Posted by Kram
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Cars shouldnt be allowed on any roads that bikes use. The government should outlaw it. They make laws that mandate things like the following, (see Web Link) All things to protect human life while on the road. Since cars cannot meet these same laws, they should not be allowed on the same roads.
21200 Laws Applicable to Bicycle Use: Peace Officer Exemption
21201 Equipment Requirements
21201.3 Bicycle or Motorized Bicycle Lights
21201.5 Reflectorized Equipment
21202 Operation on Roadway
21203 Hitching Rides
21204 Riding on Bicycles
21205 Carrying Articles
21206 Local Regulation
21207 Bicycle Regulation
21207.5 Motorized Bicycles: Prohibited Operation
21208 Permitted Movements from Bicycle Lanes
21209 Motor Vehicles and Motorized Bicycles in Bicycle Lanes
21210 Bicycle Parking
21211 Obstruction of Bikeways or Bicycle Paths or Trails
21212 Youth Bicycle Helmets: Minors.

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Posted by Carlos
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2010 at 8:15 am

We can talk until we're blue in the face. Now how can we get this into law? Can we even make it against the law to ride a bike in the street, or is it a lost cause? I have always had a huge problem with cyclist and I'm happy to find out I'm not alone. The laws are too vague as far as who is a cyclist and when. Is a twelve year old on a bmx bike really supposed to ride in the turning lane across Hopyard? There is no age definition or equipment definition to decide who can ride where. I mean, should my 10 year old daughter ride on a nice wide side walk or take her pink flower cruiser on W. Las Positas with cars?
I can already hear some of you talk about safety and common sense, but thats to vague as well. I believe its a lack of commen sense to ride a bicycle down Foothill, but other still do it. This shows that we all can have a different idea of whats "common sense."

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Posted by Pleasanton Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Recently, I almost hit a bicyclist because the bicyclist ran a red light on Hopyard. I was on Valley. It was 7:20PM in the evening. It was dark... Luckily, I didn't start going when the green light came to me. The BIG SUV next to me also didn't go on the green light!

So, Bicyclists, obey the traffic signals! You don't have the right to run the red light! So, don't do it! It's totally STUPID!

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