I caught up with Alamo resident Suzy Telles, who told me she has taken up the sport of bicycling. I congratulated her, since I've always been impressed with the fluorescent-adorned athletes who seem to make the rigorous sport look effortless as they pedal swiftly along the sides of our roads.
"We can all agree the bicycling in Contra Costa County is exceptional, and in general cycling promotes good health, is good for the environment and does it's fair share to support many local merchants in our community," Telles said.
However, the avid cyclist has learned that not everyone admires bicyclists, especially motorists who share the road. Since she started bicycling, she has seen the resentment unfold. She stated that she has observed "over the top anger" in both Alamo and Danville.
"I am truly amazed at the way motorists treat cyclists, as well as each other," she said. " And a few cyclists who ride like no one else matters adds to the problem, making riding dangerous for serious cyclists, weekend warriors and anyone giving it a go for the first time."
She told me there is bubbling resentment between motorists and cyclists.
"My pet peeve in our community is the growing animosity between motorists and cyclists. As in most situations, a little education goes a long way," said Telles.
She pointed out that cyclists share the same rights and responsibilities as drivers, and are also subject to the very same state laws
The Bicycle Code of Conduct, she said, is worth reviewing by both cyclists and drivers. The code is: 1) Never ride against traffic; 2) Ride as near to the right as practicable; 3) Stop at stop signs and red lights; 4) Honor others' right of way; 5) Use hand signals; 6) Ride single file with traffic; 7) Be predictable, and don't weave; 8) Follow lane markings; 9) Don't needlessly block the road; and 10) Use lights at night.
Noted: The two most common offenses of bicyclists are running stop signs and groups of cyclists blocking the road. The Bicycle Code of Conduct also states, "We should ride as ambassadors of cycling. Cyclists need to show respect to gain respect." For more information, visit www.bikeleague.org/resources/better/roadrules.php and California DMV Handbook at www.dmv.ca.gov/about/bicycle.htm.
Clashes between motorists and cyclists are nothing new and seem to be getting worse, as evidenced by recent reports such as the cyclist running a stop sign in San Francisco and hitting a woman who fell, hit her head and died. Telles pointed out that local cyclists have also been killed by motorists and numerous others injured. I can attest to that, as last fall my husband and I had just been served our breakfast outside of a local restaurant on a peaceful weekend morning when we heard a loud screech and crash. We looked to see a bicyclist airborne, flying over a car. My husband ran up to him as I followed behind, dialing 911. Luckily he was OK, but I agree this happens all too often, sometimes with fatal consequences.
"The point is we have to all share the road, which should be our main concern. I didn't realize that cyclists share the same set of rules as motorists until I educated myself," Telles added.
Contact Caterina Mellinger at firstname.lastname@example.org