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Campaign 'pedals' bike safety

Motorists, cyclists agree courtesy needs to come from both sides
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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When it comes to sharing the road, some motorists and bicyclists face a challenge when traveling on the scenic, yet curvy roads that wind through the foothills. This week the Placer County Sheriff’s Office announced it will launch an enforcement campaign to educate both bike riders and vehicle drivers about the rules of the road. Capt. David Harris said in a press release that the campaign is in response to multiple complaints the office has received regarding bicycle riders not yielding to stop signs and some stop lights in the area. Sgt. Kurt Walker added that there will be enforcement if necessary but he said deputies’ primary goal is to inform. Walker, a former bicycle officer in Davis, said he understands frustration from both sides. “Up here we don’t have as many bike lanes,” Walker said. “People have to understand they have to share the roadway to make it safe all around.” Auburn resident Chris Shannon says she been both a bike rider and driver on local roads. She said as a bike rider, she was once knocked off her bike when she was hit by a car’s side-view mirror. As a driver, she’s happened upon two bike riders with one standing about three feet out into Bald Hill Road at a point of a blind curve. She said she believes bicyclists “have every right to be on those roads” but wishes that some had a higher level of awareness. “I think there’s a lack of awareness that the roads out here are different than they might be in Roseville or in the valley,” Shannon said. “(Bicyclists) just need to pay attention a little more as to how what they’re doing not only endangers themselves, but also puts (motorists) in a precarious position.” Wise Road resident David Chaddock said he thinks courtesy is key when it comes to motorist and bicyclist encounters. “Sure bicyclists have the right and as far as I’m concerned they have every right to use and enjoy the roads, but they also need to exhibit the courtesy that I show them,” Chaddock said. Chaddock said when he’s encountered two bicyclists riding side by side, they usually quickly move into single file after he gives a quick toot on his horn. Road cyclist Doug Houston said that is a helpful tip other motorists should keep in mind. Houston said he became serious about road cycling a little over three years ago. Some days he bikes the 95 miles roundtrip from his Auburn home to his Sacramento job. He also participates in road cycling competitions. About two years ago, he took a job as legislative advocate for the California Bicycle Coalition. “We’re lagging far behind in terms of bicycle infrastructure in this state so conflicts are going to be inevitable,” Houston said. Houston said that cycling related activity sales and tourism generated about $1.5 billion in the state last year, which accounted for 25 percent of total nationwide bike related sales. He said the coalition continues to sponsor legislation that promotes road cycling including the Cycling Routes of State and Regional Significance Act. The Act, if passed by state lawmakers, would allow local entities to designate specific routes as national, state or regional significance, which means more signage on roads and increased awareness of cyclists on those routes. Houston acknowledged that at times, cyclists are “our own worst enemy.” “We have to remain mindful that we don’t have a lot of metal around us,” Houston said. “We’re vulnerable and need to take extra precautions so motorists aren’t put in peril themselves.” Houston said it helps if motorists give more room when passing and a short toot on the horn lets a cyclist know that a car is behind them. “We can’t always hear them,” Houston said. He added that motorists should keep in mind that many road shoulders are covered with debris and sometimes bicyclists veer out into the lane to avoid hazards. “We’re not being jerks,” Houston said. “We’re engaged in an activity that’s regular behavior and we get over as far as it’s reasonably practical.” From the perspective of a motorist, Chaddock said he doesn’t want to cause problems for bicyclists. He said he think the Placer Sheriff’s campaign will be a “very good awakening for bicyclists and motorists alike.” “Maybe it will teach the motorists to slow down,” Chaddock said. “And maybe it will teach bicyclists to have to share just as much as we do.” Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com. ---------- A meeting of the bikes What: Town of Loomis Bikeway and Trails Master Plan Public Workshop When: 6 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 18 Where: Town of Loomis Depot, 5775 Horseshoe Bar Road Call: Brian Fragiao, Town Engineer, (916) 652-1840 ----------