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Some recent comments from readers:

Unsafe bicycling on skinny roads

I am new to the Sonoma County backroads. I believe in sharing the road with bicycles, but was surprised by their behavior. Last Saturday I drove out to the coast on Petaluma Point Reyes road, narrow, double yellow line. The cyclists were riding 2, sometimes 3 across. Even when they looked back and saw me, they didn’t always shift into single file. There is NO WAY on those narrow roads to safely pass and allow 3 feet without crossing the double yellow to some degree. And then I would be crossing the lines illegally…Geez. This is a problem….Expensive solution? Trails for bikes, keep them safer and free to ride side by side, and at the same time avoid forcing cars off the road? — Del

Catch those red-light runners

Please install working cameras to all intersections to cite red light runners! Think of the money the county would make and hopefully curb the red light running. I watch people purposefully speed up to “make it” in time. Only to put my life, and those in my car, at risk! I would guess that they majority of accidents was caused by red light runners, very disappointing. — Karin

Is it kind or dangerous to stop for pedestrians?

I have a similar problem in trying to be “kind” by letting people onto the freeway. Apparently, people are so used to NOT being allowed on that many times, they keep slowing down to let me pass, while I am slowing to let them on, and before I know it, I am doing 40 and if I were to speed up at that point, I would most certainly run them off the road. One person actually pulled over to the side of the road. I would like to keep being kind, but it seems it’s so unusual these days that I am doing more harm than good. — Smurf

Another example: When I’m on my bicycle trying to cross College, cars frequently stop in the middle of the lane and try to wave me across in an effort to be nice. In actuality, it totally throws off my timing, and sometimes blocks my view of another lane where traffic can be coming. — Naomi Williams

Another place I see dangerous courtesy all the time is on roundabouts. The vehicles in roundabouts have the right of way. Nearly every day I see drivers in the roundabout near my office stop and wave people into the traffic circle. — Patrick

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Comments

22 Comments

  1. Ben

    Let the bicycles have the roads, and let the businesses in “bicycle friendly” places survive on what cyclists spend. If local laws make it frustrating to drive someplace, go another place. A cafe in the area I live recently went out of business because locals stopped going when cyclists started stopping there. I’m sad because the owners were nice people, but not sad enough to put up with the cyclists.

    March 13th, 2013 8:46 am

  2. Wilson

    Karin – Recently the City Council in Hayward voted to end their red light camera program after the contract with their supplier ended. They found that the number of accidents were not reduced. They also found that it cost them $1 million per year yet only generated $100k in fines.

    March 13th, 2013 9:40 am

  3. Mike

    ‘Share the road’ is a joke, bacause it apparently only applies to cars. Once a bicyclist gets on the road, it’s all thiers. Or at least that’s the way they see it. Cars and bicycles are not compatable, they just aren’t. There is no safe way for both to be on the same road. Bicycles need thier own lanes, and if there isn’t one, they need to stay off that road. But since common sense does not rule the day, everyone will have to continue to pander to the cyclist vocal minority, because it’s the PC thing to do.

    March 13th, 2013 9:40 am

  4. Joe

    Mike and Ben,

    You’re both absolutely clueless!

    Cyclists have absolutely 100% right to every road.

    March 13th, 2013 12:10 pm

  5. smurf

    As an alteration to my original comment, apparently I was not doing it to be “kind”. Since reading the feedback from other folks, I went back to simply maintaining my current speed as people came onto the freeway. I found in almost ALL cases I HAD to slow down because people were getting on so slowly, and if I sped UP, I really would be running them onto the shoulder. So, not as nice as I thought I was, and frustrated that people are getting on the freeway at such slow speeds of 40 – 45 MPH.

    March 13th, 2013 12:31 pm

  6. Chris from Santa Rosa

    On narrow rural roads or on narrow traffic lanes in town, cyclists will “take the lane” to avoid being sideswiped. This is purely a matter of self-defense – no rudeness is intended.

    March 13th, 2013 1:50 pm

  7. BEN

    Please do not slow down to let people on the freeway. this is a main cause of freeway traffic.

    Really Mike?? That makes no sense at all. Should this apply to kids as on bikes as well?? is it really that big of a problem to wait an extra 30 seconds on your drive to find a safe place to pass, or slow down and give a little honk to let them know your their?? The last thing a bicyclist wants is to cause a problem with someone in a car, they are out exercising & enjoying themselves.

    March 13th, 2013 2:08 pm

  8. Mark

    I bicycle, and I cold not agree more that there are far too many “Masters of the Universe” hogging the road. Single-file, ladies and gents. To block the cars and force them to pass in a way that is either too close to the cyclist or oncoming traffic is just not right. There are plenty of out-of-the way places with very little traffic where you can ride side-by-side, so you don’t need to do it on major roads.

    Cars and bicycles are not going to peacefully co-exist until everyone learns some road manners, and to my fellow bike riders, I have to ask: How would you feel if you came up on a pair of cars talking up the whole road?

    Yeah, just what I thought.

    March 13th, 2013 2:23 pm

  9. Crystal

    if you want to ride a bike alongside cars you should have to abid eby the rules, apparently red lights and/or pedetrians don’t matter to bicyclists

    March 13th, 2013 2:37 pm

  10. Beedobaby

    Ya know, if everyone would just do what they are supposed to do when they are supposed to do it and follow the rules the roadways, bikeways and walkways would be so much safer. People would know what to expect! If you are supposed to yield, yield! If you have the right-of-way, then GO! If you are on a bike and you know a car is coming, get out of the way! That one should be a no-brainer! Put the damn cell phone down, pay attention and follow the rules! GEEEEZ!

    March 13th, 2013 3:02 pm

  11. Beedobaby

    JOE ~ sounds like you are one of the clueless “Masters of the Universe” bike riders.

    You need to read what MARK said, on a daily basis!

    Right -on, Mark!

    March 13th, 2013 3:08 pm

  12. Just Me

    Vehicles entering the freeway do not have the right of way and need to yield to the traffic on the freeway!

    PLEASE if you are traveling on the freeway at freeway speeds, PLEASE DO NOT SLOW DOWN “to be nice” for the vehicle merging on the freeway. Most of the time when you slow down for them you don’t look in your rear view mirror first. There is almost always a string of traffic behind you and by slowing down YOU cause the traffic jams!

    If you are merging onto the freeway, PLEASE MERGE CORRECTLY! First look to see if the vehicle you might be cutting off is a big rig or a truck hauling a travel trailer (etc). WE CANNOT STOP ON A DIME BECAUSE YOU CHOOSE TO BE STUPID AND MERGE INTO TRAFFIC DOING 55 WHILE YOU ARE DOING 45 OR SLOWER! I have tested almost every freeway onramp and am capable of being at the same speed as traffic on the freeway by the time I am ready to merge. It is NOT impossible! It’s that skinny pedal on the right and all you have to do is push down farther faster to get up to speed in a timely manner. YOU are the ones causing freeway accidents!

    Thank you for learning to drive!

    March 13th, 2013 3:17 pm

  13. Joel

    U guys, there’s hardly even an argument here. What happened to the good ol’ Roadwarrior screeds?

    Anyway, there’s kinda simple answers to these questions.

    Freeway/Roundabouts: Drivers entering the freeway must yield to vehicles already on the freeway. That doesn’t mean drivers already on the freeway should not drive defensively so that accidents don’t occur because not every car trying too merge will obey their command to yield. Merging traffic has to “get in where they fit in” so don’t slow all the way down and expect them to speed up.

    Red Light Runners: Crappy and dangerous drivers exist and are always going to exist. I can’t tell you how many accidents I’ve seen at the Dutton/Sebastopol Road intersection because people turning left onto Dutton don’t yield their right of way to oncoming traffic when their protected left turn light goes off. But again, like the freeway, drive defensively. Enforce your right of way but don’t cause an accident to prove a point. Make sure the intersection is safe for you when you enter.

    Bikes: This is the constant argument in Sonoma County and particularly Santa Rosa.
    In town, you may just have to drive behind a bicycle for a little while before you can pass. Only you can judge when it is reasonable and safe to pass (yellow lines or no yellow lines, use good judgment) and bikes are classified as vehicles which means that they have full rights-of-way when they take up a lane in the absence of a designated bike lane. If you have to, treat them like a double-parked truck in your lane with the emergency flashers on. Go into the opposing lane when it is safe for you to do so.

    Country roads: I love cruising Sonoma County back-roads so i can see why bicyclists do to. They’re awesome! We have the worst road quality ever though, so we can’t and won’t build bikelanes on the old back-roads. Its dangerous for both the cars and the bicycles when they meet on these roads because i might hit them coming around a blind curve or I might have to swerve out of the way and crash myself. Just be aware of them, drive behind them when you have to, and use your best judgment about when its safe to pass. Some bicyclists won’t pull over at turnouts like they should, but some drivers won’t slow down or move over for bicyclists either. So, you kinda have to treat them like a very slow car. I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of driving one of these roads and having a good time only to come upon a seriously slow car who simply doesn’t understand how turnouts work. For some people, drivers and bicyclists, no amount of headlight-flashing, honking, or yelling will get them to pull over and that’s just the way it is.

    TL;DR: drive defensively but enforce your rights-of-way, don’t hit people or cars with your car, don’t be the person who doesn’t pull over for a vehicle that wants to go faster than you.

    March 13th, 2013 3:24 pm

  14. smurf

    Ben, the alternative is for me to gun it and do 75 or 80 to get ahead of them without running them into the shoulder. Why everyone seems to be entering the freeway at such slow speeds, I really don’t know. I have even seen a couple of people treat the freeway onramp as a stop sign and STOP once they get even with traffic. It is insane.

    March 13th, 2013 3:35 pm

  15. Road.Warrior

    Well said, Joel.

    March 13th, 2013 3:47 pm

  16. dave

    mark, unless the two drivers are working together against the rider in an action movie, at least one of the drivers will use either the brake or gas pedal to adjust their car into a safe postion. on a two lane road with little pavement to the right of the fog line it makes sense for a car not pass a bike in that situation.

    March 13th, 2013 4:12 pm

  17. Jack

    I want to concur about drivers going too slow on the highway onramps. I think it’s painfully absurd to be nearly pushing the sporty fast car in front of my “slow” hybrid up the onramp but I find it happening more often than not. If it’s not peak traffic time, please try to be going AT LEAST 55 and checking the slow lane behind you as soon as your view clears which is usually soon enough to allow speed adjustment. Remember you need a bit of extra speed to move sideways to maintain your intended forward speed!

    If you have to nearly stop before merging, you probably weren’t looking.

    Also, just share the roads. Seriously. The next bike or car you encounter is NOT the same bike or car that pissed you off last time. Promise!

    March 13th, 2013 6:01 pm

  18. Art

    B T W, When gas prices hit $5+ this summer , you will bow to the bike LoL.

    March 13th, 2013 6:02 pm

  19. MW

    If your a jerk in your regular life and disregard others, your probably a jerk when you go for a bike ride too. Same goes for drivers. Nobody gets to be sanctimonious on the issue.

    As for business suffering from cyclists on rural roads, that’s a joke. Is Valley Ford really suffering because of cyclists. There’s more cyclists than cars.

    That cafe that went out of business wasn’t because cyclists gave them business. And to the customers that can’t frequent an establishment that serves cyclists, that’s just silly.

    March 13th, 2013 7:36 pm

  20. Dan Drummond Sr

    Before making a dangerous road rage type move, try your emergency blinkers and/or your horn to make your presence known.

    March 13th, 2013 8:14 pm

  21. noname

    Bikes travelling slower than traffic MUST ride single file, as close to the curb as practical. This is the law in CA.

    http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21202.htm

    Operation on Roadway
    21202. (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:

    (1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.

    (2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

    (3) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a “substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

    (4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

    (b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway of a highway, which highway carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of that roadway as practicable.

    Amended Sec. 4, Ch. 674, Stats. 1996. Effective January 1, 1997.

    March 19th, 2013 10:48 am

  22. noname

    I see far too many bikers riding 2-3 abreast on Pt. Reyes/Petaluma road and on Sir Francis Drake. The speed limit is 55 mph in many sections of this highway, none of these bikes are riding anywhere near that speed. Sometimes the road has 6+ feet of clean shoulder to ride in, yet they still ride 2 abreast, the biker on the left riding on or over the white line. Not only dangerous, but illegal.

    “Taking the lane” is illegal unless the bike is able to keep up with traffic period.

    If it’s so unsafe to bike there, pull over, or find another road. There are so many unused back roads in Sonoma, Marin, Napa you don’t need to be on 55 mph major thrufares. Thanks.

    March 19th, 2013 10:53 am

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