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Naomi  The Biking Life

 by: Naomi Bloom  12/1/2002

A Wish List for the New Year and Beyond

I'm a regular reader of Mr. Roadshow, a daily column by Gary Richards in the Valley section of the San Jose Mercury News. On October 23, Gary's entire column was "A Wish List To Make The Region Better For Driving, Commuting And Living."

Of the 31 individual "wishes" he included, only one even mentioned bicyclists. It was a good one, too, right up there in slot number three: "I wish bicyclists would wear bright clothing, and have lights on their bikes at night." Right on, Gary!

In fact, it's against the law NOT to have lights on the front and rear of your bike after dark. I, too, wish all nighttime riders would follow Gary's advice.

But I did think he skimped just a bit. Couldn't he have paid some attention to other issues where cyclists are involved? So I'm stepping into the breach to expand Gary's concept to the right side of the road.

A Wish List to Make Our Roads Better for Cycling, Driving and Living

Here's my Wish List for 2003 -- and hopefully as long as bikes and cars must share the road:

Bicyclists

I wish all bicyclists would ride in the direction of traffic, which is on the right in all cases except some rare one-way streets.

I wish all bicyclists would make left-hand turns from the left-turn lane or left of the left-most lane on the street.

I wish all bicyclists would use hand signals to indicate intentions to turn right or left, or to slow down or stop.

I wish bicyclists would overtake other bicyclists on the left, and call out, "On your left," when about to pass.

I wish all bicyclists would wear a recently manufactured (within five years) ANSI-approved cycling helmet. And I wish they'd get it properly fitted and wear it so that it won't choke them or fall off when they hit the ground.

I wish all bicyclists would recognize that, in exchange for being entitled to the same rights as motorists, they must also accept the same responsibilities.

Motorists

I wish motorists would NEVER drive in the bike lane or shoulder, even if they have a right turn coming up. The dotted lines will appear before the intersection -- I promise.

I wish motorists who plan to make a right turn would move across the dotted line to the right-turn lane to do so, allowing me to continue straight in the through lane without endangering life and limb.

I wish motorists would use their turn signals to indicate their intention to cross my path when making a left turn. (Yes, it happens. A lot!)

I wish motorists would stop pointing to the right (with a sourpuss face) whenever I take my legal (safe and practicable) right to the lane.

I wish impatient motorists would desist from dangerously weaving around me just to get to the stop sign or red light first. (Yes, this happens a lot too!)

I wish motorists would refrain from stopping in the middle of moving traffic to let me through an intersection. Instead, I wish they would act predictably by taking their right of way promptly.

I wish motorists parked at the curb would look in their rear and side view mirrors before flinging open the driver door.

I wish motorists pulling out of a driveway or parking space would look right and left before they gun the engine and move out right in front of me.

I wish motorists would realize that they are not required by law to pass a bicyclist under any and all circumstances. This includes crossing a double yellow line on a blind mountain curve, or weaving to get around slower traffic. Slow down, stay alive and keep me out of court as a witness, please!

I wish motorists who smoke, drink or eat in their cars would hold on to the waste products instead of tossing litter out the window.

I wish truck drivers would cover their payloads, especially cement and gravel trucks.

I wish gravel trucks -- especially the two-trailer varieties -- would disappear from the face of the earth!

I wish motorists would realize that bicyclists are entitled to all the same rights and rules of the road as they are.

Government entities

I wish CalTrans, counties, cities and others responsible for the condition of roads would maintain them -- fill potholes, scrape bumps and sweep away the broken glass and debris.

I wish the City of San Jose would have originally come up with a better way to pick up residential yard waste than having folks dump it directly in the street.

I wish the City of Santa Clara would forever ban pick-up in the street for "Clean Up Days" that last the entire month of April.

I wish police officers and sheriff's deputies would educate themselves about the rights, dangers and physical requirements for safe, legal bicycling on public streets. (More specifically, I wish they understood the difference between "tailgating" and "drafting.")

I wish the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) would raise the consciousness of all their bus drivers to an awareness of the dangers of "buzzing" bicyclists.

I wish all metal sensors were cranked up enough to sense the presence of a bicycle and trip the light from red to green.

I wish all green lights would last long enough for a fit adult to pedal across an intersection.

I wish all cities, states and counties would provide class 1 to class 3 bicycle facilities on all roads in their jurisdictions.

I wish traffic engineers and highway designers would take bicyclists into account when designing freeway and expressway interchanges.

I wish all cities, towns, shopping centers and workplaces had convenient and secure dedicated bicycle parking.

And Gary, I too wish the traffic cop would have bought my story about making a full stop at a stop sign. Just because I didn't put my foot down doesn't mean I didn't come to a full stop. And that's been proven in court!

Happy New Year. As my friend Margaret always says, "Ride Safely. Ride Often."

Naomi can be reached at naomibloom@earthlink.net



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