After reading about the new “share the road” ordinance passed by Santa Rosa’s City Council, reader Tara Martinelli sent this modest proposal. Why not also teach bicyclists the rules of the road? Here’s what she had to say.
Dear Road Warrior,
In commercials and radio PSAs, motorists are frequently reminded to share the road and are told that bicyclists have the same rights as motorists (although driving is a privilege, not a right). But I don’t hear reminders that bicyclists also have the same responsibilities when they share the road, such as obeying traffic laws, stopping at stop signs and signaling for lane changes.
They seem to hybrid themselves, claiming the “rights” of bicyclists and pedestrians. They have the rights of a vehicle on the road, and the right of way of pedestrians when it suits them to proceed across traffic. They also decide they are exempt from stopping at 4-way stops or traffic light intersections.
When they ride in traffic like cars and are in places where there is no bike lane, they switch lanes without notice or regard to oncoming and approaching traffic. Some still ride in the street when they do they have a bike lane, without regard to motorists, weaving in and out of the lane without considering that they need to give vehicles adequate space they would if they were driving a car.
I bring these items up because I do like bicyclists and I don’t think it is OK to hurt or harass them, but I also think they need to be considerate to motorists. Share the road goes both ways by following traffic rules. The bicyclists who don’t follow the rules are stressful for those of us who are concerned about hurting them. They also are role models for younger bike enthusiasts.
I am teaching my children they need to respect and follow traffic laws, and it is frustrating to see others that do not. I watched a father, all geared out like a serious bicyclist, riding in front of his teen who was also decked out, and they blew through a stop sign at Conde at Mitchell. If traffic had been pulling out from the stop, cars would have seen them too late, but this father is setting the example for his child that traffic controls don’t apply.
My concern is that it may be more lack of knowledge than outright disregard. As motorists, we pass a driving test after reading a booklet that covers a lot of this content, but I am not sure how informed the new converts to biking are. Where are they provided information?
Can we as a community look into getting some safety information and PSAs out there for bicyclists, since it is such a popular and good way to get around? I think it would help. We will always have bad drivers and bicyclists, but for those who may just not know better, it might be a valuable way to reduce some friction and safety concerns.