Reader chimes in on bicycle safety concerns

Editor:

I am so very sorry for Alfred Yeargey’s death here in Ocean View. It is a fear that many of us have. Alfred and I shared a common age and a love of riding our bicycles. How I wish we had met out on our bike rides.

It is my experience in biking our coastal highways and roads that automobile drivers are overall more aware of the rules of the road than those who ride bicycles. It is particularly true of summer bicycle traffic. Summer bike riders are the most ignorant and defiant of the rules of the road.

Bicycles are not licensed. They are not inspected. The “riders” have taken no rules-of-the-road test and demonstrated their ability to ride a bicycle on our roads with cars. The majority of bicycles have a rear red reflector, and that is it. Headlights are rare. Reflective clothing is rare. Hand/arm turn signals are almost non-existent. Riding on sidewalks is common even when wording on the sidewalks states “NO BICYCLES.”

We are so fortunate that many more bicycle riders are not killed. The reason has to be that automobile drivers are much more aware of their surroundings and the rules that apply to them. Their skill level to drive is greater and comes with much more responsibility.

I do speak up to summer bicycle riders about the rules of road, and the majority ignore me. Some nod and adjust their bike behaviors. Far too many give me a single-finger response or “F-you” or “Mind your own business, old man.” I am only hoping they will adjust enough to survive.

I am happy to see the “off season” of our beautiful coastal highways, with the vast majority of bicyclists following the rules of road and greeting one another as they pass by. It is very common to hear the words “On your left” as they begin to pass one another. Many even say, “Thanks” and “Enjoy your ride.” It is rare to see a rider biking against the traffic.

Allow me to share a really positive bike experience I witnessed last week: A father was biking with his young son northbound on West Avenue, and I was parked across the street at the pharmacy. His young son was about 20 yards in front of his father and approaching the intersection. The young boy slowed down on approaching the intersection. He stopped on the far right side and back a few yards from the road crossing markings.

Dad had trusted his son to do everything perfectly. Why? I suspect Dad took the time to teach his young son the rules of the road and the young boy did it all with perfection. Dad had taught his son all the skills to control his bike properly. Dad trusted his son to stop at the right location, because he knew his son. Dad had taken the time to be an excellent teacher and parent.

I am very sure that fathers and mothers are teaching their children how to be skilled and knowledgeable bicycle riders in the present and deep into their future.

Lloyd E. Elling

Ocean View