Opinion

Biking Means ‘Literally Risking My Life’

Biking Means ‘Literally Risking My Life’

 

This commentary originally appeared as a comment on “Morning Report: Plaza de Panama Vote Nears.

Randy,

Your post on June 18 on cycling rights in San Diego is not news or even informed opinion. Rather, it is a bit of vaguely ominous commentary with a truly terrible story (from another city) tacked on for added drama. I recently signed up as a contributor to VOSD, but I’ll tell you now: this isn’t the kind of “reporting” that I care to support. You can do better.

Regarding your personal experience with “lawless bicyclists,” I understand your frustration. In fact, there are many of us who ride bikes in this city who feel the same way. But perhaps a little perspective might be helpful…

I ride my bike for long distances around San Diego county several times every week. When I ride, I wear a chain around my neck with emergency contact information on it. This is because I understand that in San Diego every time I roll onto the street, I am quite literally risking my life. I have been yelled at and honked at for no particular reason. I have had drivers intentionally “zoom me,” crossing the white line in an apparent attempt to scare me into the ditch.

And those aren’t the drivers who really frighten me.

In my experience, it’s the deadly combination of distracted driver/cell phone user and no shelter for cyclists (bike lane or other) that gives me nightmares and causes me to ride looking over my shoulder on streets like University Avenue and Garnet Avenue.

And even when there is provision for cyclists, it’s hard to believe we are really protected. Just try riding a little slower than the traffic on a street marked with “sharrows.” Trying to use the perfectly legal right to take the lane is likely to get you knocked off your bike.

I’m a careful and law-abiding cyclist, but in a city where I am clearly not welcome on the streets and illegal on the sidewalk, I can understand why some riders don’t see themselves as subject to the rules. On many of the streets in this city, there is no place for a bike and the system is clearly antagonistic to the rider. In an environment like this, is it any wonder that the rules don’t seem to apply?

Which brings me, finally, back to your comments. Have you considered the possibility that, as we honor and care for the needs of EVERYONE who uses the streets of this city, we just might be creating a safer and more efficient place for all, a place where the riders stop for red lights and the drivers no longer kill the riders. It’s a good trade, I think, and it’s worth a shot.

Peter Schrock lives in Golden Hill.


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Peter Schrock

Peter Schrock
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24 comments
Bill Davidson
Bill Davidson subscriber

I have used them several times and every time that I did, I saw other riders, so some people are using them.

billdsd
billdsd

I have used them several times and every time that I did, I saw other riders, so some people are using them.

John Stechschulte
John Stechschulte subscriber

I think he's mentioning you because you commented about cyclists "tak[ing] even more of the road" when cyclists have the right to use the entire road in the first place (which he cites from numerous sources). How can we take "even more" than all of it?

jstech
jstech

I think he's mentioning you because you commented about cyclists "tak[ing] even more of the road" when cyclists have the right to use the entire road in the first place (which he cites from numerous sources). How can we take "even more" than all of it?

jstech
jstech

No, because they've been texting :-P.

Jim Withers
Jim Withers subscriber

For those of us who cycle daily, the idea of dedicated bike paths in San Diego is the only one that makes sense. Even cities with poor climates (portland and seattle for instance) have huge cycling populations and a much great percentage of daily bike commuters mainly due to this kind of consideration. Until there is some type of real enforcement of motorists texting and talking on the phone while driving there is no other safe option in my opinion.

Wiz1
Wiz1

For those of us who cycle daily, the idea of dedicated bike paths in San Diego is the only one that makes sense. Even cities with poor climates (portland and seattle for instance) have huge cycling populations and a much great percentage of daily bike commuters mainly due to this kind of consideration. Until there is some type of real enforcement of motorists texting and talking on the phone while driving there is no other safe option in my opinion.

Roy Benstead
Roy Benstead subscribermember

Has anyone ever seen a bicyclist using them?

Bahtat
Bahtat

Has anyone ever seen a bicyclist using them?

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

Bikes are statistically very safe, safer than cars and far safer than motorbikes. If we as good citizens want to work toward the safety of all citizens instead of just those that have bikes as their hobby, we need to make cars and motorbikes safer at the expense of bicycles if need be.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones

Bikes are statistically very safe, safer than cars and far safer than motorbikes. If we as good citizens want to work toward the safety of all citizens instead of just those that have bikes as their hobby, we need to make cars and motorbikes safer at the expense of bicycles if need be.

John Stechschulte
John Stechschulte subscriber

I predict a very educational and/or disappointing decade is in store for you. Cycling is on the rise, and there will be more bike lanes, bike boulevards, cycle tracks, and other bicycle infrastructure installed in the coming years.

jstech
jstech

I predict a very educational and/or disappointing decade is in store for you. Cycling is on the rise, and there will be more bike lanes, bike boulevards, cycle tracks, and other bicycle infrastructure installed in the coming years.

Don Wood
Don Wood subscriber

SANDAG has set aside a lot of grant money to work with local cites on a regionwide bike path network. One key question that needs to be addressed is whether this network should include putting bicyclists onto city streets with cars, trucks and busses, or whether this should be a separate network of lanes available only to bike riders and pedestrians. It is my opinion that bike riders should be able to get from any point in the region to any other point on dedicated bike paths without being forced to risk their lives sharing street with distracted drivers. I hope that local bike advocates and their allies will support this vision through political action.

Don Wood
Don Wood

SANDAG has set aside a lot of grant money to work with local cites on a regionwide bike path network. One key question that needs to be addressed is whether this network should include putting bicyclists onto city streets with cars, trucks and busses, or whether this should be a separate network of lanes available only to bike riders and pedestrians. It is my opinion that bike riders should be able to get from any point in the region to any other point on dedicated bike paths without being forced to risk their lives sharing street with distracted drivers. I hope that local bike advocates and their allies will support this vision through political action.

Ryan Ziska
Ryan Ziska subscriber

I believe the saying goes, "ignorance is bliss".

razraz
razraz

I believe the saying goes, "ignorance is bliss".

Bill Davidson
Bill Davidson subscriber

Cyclecraft by John Franklin, ISBN 0117064769

billdsd
billdsd

Cyclecraft by John Franklin, ISBN 0117064769

Ryan Ziska
Ryan Ziska subscriber

Thank goodness the "Give me 3" was passed to allow safe cycling. What we don't need here is angry and unsafe drivers thinking they are entitled to the entire street. It is time for a culture change.

razraz
razraz

Thank goodness the "Give me 3" was passed to allow safe cycling. What we don't need here is angry and unsafe drivers thinking they are entitled to the entire street. It is time for a culture change.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

What we don't need here are these wild claims that bikers need to take even more of the road for safety.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones

What we don't need here are these wild claims that bikers need to take even more of the road for safety.