Risk everywhere when bikes, autos share the road
Original post made by Renee Batti, news editor of The Almanac, on Jan 31, 2007
Sailboats have the right of way over powerboats, but most sailboat owners do not challenge freighters or tankers in the shipping lanes. In a collision between two objects of vastly disproportionate size, the smaller one invariably loses.
Now that Dr. Greg Wright has enlightened me (Almanac Jan. 17) I know that Old La Honda Road is called the Alpe d'Huez (the steepest part of the Tour de France) of Portola Valley. He should be advised that the road is barely lanes wide with no shoulders.
If there is a vehicle coming uphill toward a blind curve, and one heading downhill toward the same curve, and a pace line or peloton of bicyclists heading into the same blind curve, we have all the makings of a serious injury accident.
As I read the letters and editorial on this conflict, I have come to realize that the bicyclists are willing to assume the risk to "do what they do." "Can't we all just get along" is not a solution to a physics problem. Posting share the road signs doesn't solve the problem either. If the government wants public safety it will have to do so by creating wider roads with bike lanes, or roads restricted to bicycle traffic. It should do so by licensing and taxing bicycles to pay for these facilities.
Even where there are bike lanes and the cyclists use them there is still risk from vehicles, as the recent collision on Sand Hill Road illustrates. One of the references cited in a Jan. 24 Almanac letter quotes the Web site of Rich Swents, who is an instructor certified by the League of American Bicyclists. He says that "47 percent of car-bike collisions are due to bicyclists making one of the following errors," which include wrong way riding, left turns from the right lane, riding out of a driveway, failure to yield, at a stop sign, for example, and a sudden swerve.
Both motorists and cyclists can be the cause of these incidents. Remember, share the road also means share the risk.
Santa Maria Avenue, Portola Valley