By Malcolm Rivera for South Kern Sol
My blue Electra beach cruiser is everything I ever wanted in a bike: control, style, and safety. When I’m constantly being bullied off the road by motorists, however, those features mean nothing. I ride in a constant state of paranoia, afraid that the door of a parked car will suddenly fly open, or that a driver will get too close to my bike lane. Both of these things have happened to me on multiple occasions, so please believe me when I say that being hit by a car door is a painful experience.
Part of the problem is the simple fact that there are very few bike lanes in South Kern neighborhoods. But what else is at play?
I wanted to know if other cyclists feel the same anxiety, so I went out and posed a simple question: “Do you feel safe riding your bike on the road?”
Steve Ross, 33, a Greenfield resident says, “Not on the main streets, no. I always take detours when possible to stay safe.” Ross has also had the displeasure of experiencing a car door to his person while riding.
Other cyclists say they simply stay off the road completely, for fear of being hit and injured.
“I always ride on the sidewalk. If I were to move to the road I’d probably get hit,” says Daniel Tinoco, 22, of Lamont.
Most cyclists interviewed were like Daniel and Steve in that they simply don’t feel safe when commuting on their bike. Armed with the knowledge that I am not alone in my experience, I feel compelled to remind motorists giving cyclists some courtesy on the road is not just the right thing to do – it’s the law.
A recent L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority awareness campaign titled, “Every Lane is a Bike Lane,” confirmed that the California Vehicle Code (CVC) is a tad friendlier toward cyclists than the typical driver.
According to CVC 21200, “A person riding a bicycle or operating a (cab) upon a highway has all the rights, and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle.”
When asked how cyclists can protect themselves on the road, Jason Cater, director of the bicycle advocacy group Bakersfield Bike Kitchen, had this to say: “They [bicyclists] can understand where they’re legally supposed to be. Look for roads that are at slower speeds and more bike friendly.”
Cater went on to say, “Motorists need to understand that bikes have the right to ride with traffic. There are just drivers out there who are not used to seeing bikes on the road.”
Now drivers, please don’t worry. Cyclists aren’t out to steal the road or clog traffic. All I want, all anyone who rides a bike wants, is to be able to get from point A to point B without worrying about being run over.
So in case you skipped to the bottom the page just to see the ending, allow me to summarize:
· – Cyclists don’t want to take over the road.
· – Bikes are allowed to ride with traffic.
· – Cyclists become very nervous when they think they are about to be run over by two tons of steel.
I conclude with this humble plea: Motorists, please don’t run me over when you see me riding my bike.