Q Mr. Roadshow, you have addressed this issue of drivers injuring bicyclists with the "right hook" before.
A Indeed I have. The "right hook" is one of the most dangerous turns involving bicyclists and autos. It occurs when a driver pulls to the right at the last moment to turn as a bicyclist rides by, giving him scant time to react.
Q It appears that many drivers do not believe that yielding to bicyclists in a bike lane applies to them when making a right turn.
The day before Mother's Day I spent six hours with my son in the ER at Valley Medical Center because a careless driver decided that her shopping trip was more urgent than yielding to a bicyclist traveling straight in the bike lane.
My son is an experienced rider and bicycles to work every day. Since this same thing happened to him two years ago, he has tried to be supervigilant of motorists at all times.
Even with my son's increased awareness, it did not help prevent this incident. It is drivers that have to make better decisions when behind the wheel, because they have the potential to cause great bodily harm or worse.
When I went to pick up my son's belongings and damaged bike at a nearby firehouse, a paramedic said that in the last month they had a dozen similar calls in the same vicinity at Branham Lane and Almaden Expressway. He said this happens everywhere.
A Sadly, he is right.
Q I want to start a public awareness program to call attention to this issue. I want to promote better decisions by drivers when faced with this particular safety challenge. You can help take the first step by including my letter in your column. Help me make it safer for bicyclists.
A Consider it done. Drivers should merge into or across the bike lane before their right turn, all the way to the curb. You can do this on most all streets, whether they have bike lanes or not, within 200 feet of the intersection.
If you think there's a chance that merging into the bike lane will cut off a bicyclist behind you, don't do it. Slow and merge BEHIND a rider to make your turn. BEHIND! Treat bicyclists as if they were motorists and avoid pulling right at the last moment.
Q I literally had goose bumps as I read the column on Father Mark Catalano, the San Jose priest killed a year ago from injuries suffered when his bicycle was hit by a car. He was beyond any priest we have ever known and his passion for bikes showed a side everyone could always relate to. What an honor to name a bike route after him.
A And ...
Q A few years ago, Father Mark shared in a sermon that while going from St. Francis High School in Mountain View where he had been chaplain, he was riding through Sunnyvale when he decided to take a different route home. He came across a teenage girl that had been riding a bike and was seriously hit by a car. He stayed with her until she did, in fact, die.
Months later, by chance, he shared what happened with friends who knew the parents of this girl, who thought she had died only with emergency technicians with her. It meant so much to them to know she did not die alone.
A I'm sure it did.