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Another View: Bicycles and cars can enjoy symbiotic relationship

Another View
By: Charlene Miskimen, guest columnist
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WOW! I am so excited about the response from the last article from Kenneth Newman (“We must obey laws of physics,” Reader Input, May 17) and I wanted to take a moment to respond to him.
First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to write in. You put into words an issue that drives many cyclists crazy as much as motorists.
The bottom line is: You are absolutely correct in your observations. I do, however, have some additional information for both the driver and the cyclist.
Let’s tackle the problem of cyclists “blowing through stop signs.” There is absolutely no excuse for doing it. If we are viewed as vehicles on the road and subject to the same laws as vehicles then, here’s an idea, stop at a stop sign or get a ticket!
I have seen both the stop sign blow and the ticket. Our club (Sierra Foothills Cycling Club) honors the vehicle code and requires that, as members of our club, we obey the traffic laws.
Now, with that said let me qualify my comments. If you see a group of riders together in a cluster and they come to a stop sign, they are not required to stop individually. The requirement is that the first bike make the stop and then the rest of the group moves through the stop sign as a group.
If there is a “break” in the group or you have stragglers, then they should make the stop. By the way, a stop means that you make the stop and give the right-of-way according to the vehicle code, not assume that you are going to be given the right-of-way by the vehicle. Be courteous cyclists!
Since we are discussing red things that require a stop let’s talk intersections with stop lights. These intersections are lighted because they are too busy to just have a stop sign —more cars, more traffic, more activity. As cyclists it is important to use hand signals on a regular basis so that motorists know what your intentions are before you make a move that could be detrimental to your health!
As you are coming into the intersection move into the lane that is going the direction you want to go but stay over to the right side so that the vehicle can still pull up to the white line. This helps the cyclist because many times we cannot trigger the light to change — we need the vehicles to do that for us so move over and give them the space to move into that position. Hmmm imagine that, a symbiotic relationship. Might be something to learn here.
Mr. Newman, I don’t mean to use the term “petrol-driven chariots” in a derogatory way toward vehicles. I have a car and I love to drive it — that was just an expression. Since I have started riding a bike I have become a much better driver (and I drive for a living so I’m pretty good at it).
For me, it is a constant reminder to think of my bike as “another vehicle on the road” because it makes me more alert and cautious when I am mixing it up with cars.
There will always be those who think the rules don’t apply to them and that everyone else in general should accommodate their particular needs and desires.
If this column can get just a few of those selfish, ego-maniacal humans to realize that they are not the only person on the planet (and maybe save a life), then it was worth the time and the dialog with terrific people like you.
In fact, I’d like to invite you out one day for a fun bike ride with me and our club. We will rustle up a bike and the equipment for you and head out.
You can find my contact information on our club website.
Your point is well made about the stupid chances that cyclists take. Unnecessary chances. I don’t know a single cyclist (or motorist for that matter) that has to be in such a hurry to get somewhere that the rules of the road cannot be obeyed.
After all, Lance Armstrong is retired and I’m sure that Levi Leipheimer is not worried about any of you taking his position on the Radio Shack Team.
The large, growing cycling population around here rides because we love the activity, the exercise and the social aspect not because we are striving for a spot on the Olympic team.
Get over yourself. Be courteous and respectful of other people whether they are in a car or on a bike or walking their child in a stroller on the roadside. All of that is the winningest hand for you to get home safe to ride another day.
Enjoy this beautiful summer weather and happy pedaling!
Charlene Miskimen is the ride director with Sierra Foothills Cycling Club and has been cycling for four years.

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Contact the writer
Reach Charlene Miskimen at:
questions@sfcyclists.org.