“Urban deer” calls for responsible cycling

Stockton cyclists pedal downtown on the first Full Moon Riders event May 10.

James B. Marsh writes:

“It’s encouraging to hear serious attention is finally being paid to safer bikeways in our fair city. That said, I’d submit cyclists still need reminding that bike safety is a two way street.

“I lived in the city of Davis from 1967-1973 and for most of that time didn’t own a car. .. From the early ’80′s to ’90′s I rode in excess of 10K miles per year including time trialing, century rides and daily commuting to and from work from N. Harrison St. to Swain Rd.

“… I think you could agree I am not the average complaining curmudgeon when I raise this point.

“Just yesterday on a short errand in my car three cyclists in three different locations were riding entirely unpredictably ignoring stop signs, riding across intersections on the wrong side of the street (without checking on cars turning toward them from behind) and drifting aimlessly from one side of the street to the other oblivious to traffic.

“… In my own residential neighborhood I frequently see large organized groups of cyclists–some sponsored by the local bike coalition, starting from a nearby bike shop and riding curb to curb–blast through the four way stop near my home without hesitation and with no regard for other waiting traffic. Given that these groups often include large numbers of young people–children–I view the cavalier (privileged? self-righteous?) attitude not just unsafe but irresponsible.

“… I’m also aware there are recent studies showing that allowing bikes to ignore stop signs may not be a bad thing. I will always disagree. Such “flexible standards” on public roads potentially confuse motor vehicle operators.  In the end it will always be about physics. In Cyclist vs Motor Vehicle-ist it will always be advantage MV–no matter what the rules or that study says.

“During my absolute worst close call on a bike–anywhere–I was riding on a Stockton Street. I was approaching March Lane from the north. The light was green.  I was in the bike lane. I was wearing a helmet. I had already checked over my left shoulder 50 yards north of the intersection. There were no vehicles near. Just as I entered the intersection I sensed a vehicle approaching slightly faster to my left. I glanced left, braked and began a barely controlled skid to my left. The vehicle–by then clearly turning right and into my line of travel–passed inches in front of me.

“The vehicle was a Stockton police cruiser. No red lights, no siren.  High rate of speed. I suspect distracted driving. Had I relied on my “special privileges” as a cyclist I’d likely not be writing this to you today.

“Bicycling  magazine years ago printed an Op Ed urging ALL cyclists to think of themselves as “urban deer”–always watchful & always wary.

“Worked for me.”

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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