Archive for category driving

Motorist Tip of the Week, 2

The bike lane is called a “bike” lane because it is for bikes. It is not called the “right side of your car” lane, so keep the right side of your car out of it. If you don’t know where the right side of your car is, perhaps it’s time to consider buying a new, smaller car.

The bike lane is also not a super secret passing lane, unless, of course, you’re on a bike passing all the suckers in traffic.

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By Bike | tell me something I don’t know

Sacramento’s drivers are bad — and Elk Grove motorists are only a little better, according to an insurance company study.

I’m sure most of the accidents are because of cyclists.

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motorist tip of the week, 1

If I had to guess I’d say that I see at least one article a week that attempts to answer the question, “what rules or laws should cyclists follow or obey?” The sub-text send two messages: 1) cyclists are annoying and would be less annoying if only they followed the laws; and, 2) cyclists are responsible for themselves and everybody else on the road.

So, in the spirit of shared responsibility I offer you my motorist tip of the week:

Always look carefully for bicyclists before opening doors next to moving traffic or before turning. (Page 36, CA Driver Handbook)


Not try to pass a bicyclist just before making a turn. Merge safely where it is allowed, then turn. (Page 36, CA Driver Handbook)

Yeah, so there’s this car, a white something or other, that regularly accelerates to pass me before it turns right, wheels squealing, in front of me. It’s not nice. It’s not safe. Please don’t do that anymore.

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to me, coming from you, flatten is a four letter word

Perhaps this is what the lady in the Merecedes was listening to when she tried to hit Blake:

This new plague is going to cause major damage in the Federal District [Mexico City] and therefore I ask you, please, throw your vehicle at them and flatten them.

That was Angel Verdugo, economic analyst and commentator for the Mexican radio program Reporte 98.5.


County blames cyclists for most crashes

Officials speaking for Sacramento County claim that most incidents of car-on-bike violence in the area are the fault of cyclists, writes Cody Kitaura in a recent article. According to the Bicycle Master Plan, an extensive document published online by the Sacramento Municipal Transportation Agency, 74% of crashes involving cyclists in the area were caused by bicycles. The overwhelming majority of those crashes were caused by cyclists riding the wrong way.

Riding the wrong way on a public road is illegal, but many cyclists choose to ride in designated bike lanes facing oncoming traffic for one simple reason: they feel more safe when they can see the cars heading towards them.

The roads in Sacramento are poorly equipped for bicycle commuters, with inadequate bike lanes and lacklustre enforcement of in-lane car-parking violations. Many important arteries have no designated cycling paths at all, or else they abruptly discontinue bike lanes in stretches of road where they become inconvenient for drivers.

In an region where drivers routinely assault cyclists, and law-enforcement officers favor cars over bikes, many riders feel vulnerable on the roads. Pedestrians are traditionally advised, when walking on the roadside, to face oncoming traffic so that in the event of a driver swerving into the verge, they might be able to avoid being struck. The same wisdom has been embraced by cyclists, who take up very little of the roadway and who assume that drivers will be better able to see them coming on the road.

But riding on the wrong side of the road remains illegal, and should not be encouraged. The problem is, in the absence of overdue, underfunded, long-promised cycling lane expansion in Sacramento, in order to obey the law cyclists must wrestle with a population of heavy car and truck users who care little about their safety, and who don’t think twice about yelling, swearing and honking at cyclists as they approach, and forcing them off the roads when they pass.

Without a serious examination of the attitude of drivers in Sacramento towards cyclists on the roads, there is little chance of an end to the practice of riding on the wrong side of the road. When drivers agree to obey the law regarding passing cyclists safely, perhaps cyclists will reciprocate by staying on the correct side of the road.

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By Bike | Week 13 (Miles 1084-1149)

It’s difficult to go out of town and leave the bike behind, more so when you’re on the way to a place that almost demands a bike ride. And so, it was with some sadness that, after a nice few days of warmish, dampish commutes, I drove to work on Friday and left Eva in the garage.

You know when you want to go for a ride and can’t and suddenly see bikes everywhere? And even though it’s windy and rainy and cold, you’re jealous? Yeah, that.

The tables turned by Easter weekend when other family met us in Carmel and, many of them having driven a couple of hours to get there, started off the morning complaining about gas prices. Now, gas prices affect me too. My wife drives our two kids to and from places all week long. In fact, she had only just recently complained that it was costing her too much to get the kids to and from the places they go to and from (keep in mind, my kids are both under 3 so we all understand this going to and from is only going to get worse). But, I realized as gas prices were discussed first thing Easter morning that I actually had no idea what the average price near my house was.

Ignorance can be bliss.

Today, I’m back in saddle, riding to work, trying not to spend my entire commute calculating how much money I’m saving.

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CHP announces new fines for cyclists

The California Highway Patrol has announced plans to introduce penalties for cyclists who use a cellphone while riding. The fine – $20 (before additional fees) is for first-time offenders. Repeat offenders would face fines of $50 for each incident.

The new penalties were outlined in a bill that was approved by the state Senate on Monday, April 25th. The bill also increases penalties for drivers who use a cellphone while driving. They could face fines of more than $500 for repeat offenses, once fees have been tacked on to the basic fine. The bill was introduced during April’s National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

As cellphones become ubiquitous, it is not unusual to see cyclists pausing to retrieve a ringing phone from a pocket while they cruise along city streets. Motorists have been doing the same for many years, often with tragic results.

But the bill has its opponents among cycling advocates, who maintain that cyclists need greater protection, not more restrictions, when riding on the road.

“This is only going to be one more obstacle for someone who uses their bicycle for transportation.” Said Tani Walling, a bike shop owner from southern California. “Everything about how our streets and sidewalks are set up favors cars.”

Every year, law enforcement hands out tens of thousands of citations in California for drivers using cellphones to talk or text while driving. Over 18s are required to use hands-free devices, while under-18s are prohibited from using any kind of phone while driving a car.


A Letter to the Earth on Earth Day

Dear Earth,

Look, I’m really sorry I had to drive to work today. Truth is that the short drive is going to make things a lot easier for me when it’s time to go home and load up the car and drive out to the coast. You’ll be happy to know that, to make up for it, I brought my reusable coffee cup into the office and plan to leave it there for regular, everyday use. In the interest of honesty, I do have to admit I brought the cup in mostly so I could score a free cup of coffee at Starbucks, but from now on, I’ll use it every day. I promise.

While we’re still talking about apologies – last week the recycling bin was full so I put some recyclables in the trash. When I’m in a car, it’s usually an SUV – a small one sure, but I still feel guilty. My kids wear disposable diapers. I forget to turn the lights off when I leave the room. Batteries. Single use plastic bags. Sometimes we buy non-organic vegetables. I don’t compost.

Well, anyway, Happy Earth Day. I’ll ride my bike again when I’m back on Tuesday and try to work on that turning the lights off thing. I probably won’t start composting unless the county starts picking up my compostables. Thanks for understanding and, you know, making it possible to be alive and everything else you do. You’re the best.

“…and many more…”


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Riderless bike serves as poignant memorial

A solitary white bicycle has appeared chained to a traffic post outside CSUS, the scene of an accident earlier this month which killed one of the university students. The bike, spray-painted a stark, ghostly white, was left anonymously leaning against the post on a traffic island immediately in front of the entrance to the university campus on J Street. Beside the bike, flowers and ribbons add color, while a photograph of the victim, Arlene Sasse, reminds pedestrians how risky the city’s streets are for cyclists.

Sasse was crossing J Street on her bike shortly before 2am on April 1st when she was hit. She died at the scene. The driver of the car claims she did not see Sasse, whose bike reportedly did not have lights or reflectors.

Arlene Sasse was due to to graduate from CSUS in May with a psychology degree. She had hoped the qualification would help her find work as an occupational psychologist. Before transferring to Sac State, she had previously attended American River and Sacramento City junior colleges.

The Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates (SABA) responded to the tragedy by issuing free bicycle lights to Sac State students, in an effort to encourage safer riding practices. Sacramento’s roads – already unfriendly and often deadly for cyclists in the daylight – can be lethal after dark. Though the city claims to be cycling-friendly, many major routes are effectively off-limits to bikes. Cars frequently abuse cyclists by parking illegally in designated cycle lanes or behaving aggressively towards law-abiding bicycle traffic.

“Ghost bikes” are a sad but common sight in metropolitan areas, appearing in more than 35 US states, and more than 20 countries worldwide. They almost always offer the same sombre, elegant memorial: a white bicycle beside a small photograph of the victim. Sacramento residents have noted at least half a dozen of the bikes, which are eventually removed by municipal workers.

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By Bike | Week 4 (Miles 480 – 512)

There were a great number of excuses: no sleep because of a screaming, sick baby; wet and cold; the need to have a car in order to pick up 8 pizzas from Costco. It was a short week for me and I only managed to ride to work on 2 of 4 days, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The driving did not make me happy and there was only one afternoon, when I walked outside to find 40 mph gusts of wind, that I was almost glad I wasn’t riding home (that feeling lasted about a block in the car). It was on one of the days that my car was parked out in the parking lot that I came across this article in the Wall Street Journal:

A recent review of existing research suggests there is “strong evidence” that time spent sitting is linked to a higher risk of death during the studies’ follow-up periods.

That wasn’t really as shocking as the proposed solution:

It’s a very quiet portable pedal exercise machine that you can buy from the manufacturer for under $200, including basic software that records your progress on your PC. You can adjust the resistance on the under-the-desk machine to either tool along easily or work hard enough to huff and puff (just keep your conference call on mute.)

I can just imagine an office full of people quietly sweating away as they spin on their magnetic trainer. And by imagine, I mean smell.

After reading this article a co-worker was talking to me about my super-human metabolism and made the comment that her husband was built like me (I’m about 6 feet tall and 145 pound) until he turned 32 and then he just started gaining weight (a story I’m told, usually as sort of a warning, about once a month). She closed the story by saying, “but he also changed from an active job to one where he’s at a computer all day.”

That was two different sources trying to tell me that sitting at a desk all day was going to make me fat and would probably kill me. I was starting to feel a little guilty about driving those two days. I also wondered why my co-worker and The Wall Street Journal tried to pitch “more active” work days without trying to pitch “more active” commutes.

I’m no doctor and I’m too lazy to look and see if the science supports this theory, but a ride or walk to work in the morning and home in the afternoon should have about the same impact on cardiovascular health and keep those customer service agents from huffing and puffing through every phone call. That’s not to say that there aren’t some days I wish I could set-up my trainer at my desk and spin away the day.

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