|Cycling group urges more caution from riders, drivers
SCBC encouraged by RP bike-pedestrian access plan
With the Tour de France in motion, the Summer Olympics looming and the weather at its best, bikers have become plentiful on the streets around Penngrove, Cotati and Rohnert Park. Whether mountain biking up in Crane Creek or cruising down East Cotati Avenue for some groceries, bicycle safety is crucial, especially in light of recent accidents.
“I think Rohnert Park as a city sees opportunities to increase access to bicycling and takes advantages of those that come up,” says Sandra Lupien, Outreach Director at the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition (SCBC). “The bicycle-pedestrian plan is great, but implementation is challenging due to funding.”
Apart from organizing events such as the Steve Norwick memorial bike ride on July 8, the coalition works hard to promote biking as a safe and healthy means of transportation and producing “complete streets,” or roads that can be easily utilized by all, not just bikers. Located in Santa Rosa and founded in 2001, they assert that safety in numbers applies largely to cyclists; if drivers notice more of them, awareness will increase reducing incidents.
“We try to educate bicyclists so they can do everything they can to prevent getting themselves into a crash,” says Lupien, clarifying that only 18 percent of bike accidents involve cars. “We fear crashes with cars the most, but numbers show that when bikes and cars crash, 50 percent of the time it’s the fault of the driver and 50 percent of the time it’s the fault of the bicyclist.”
Aside from riding in groups, riders can amplify security by making clear with hand signals to cars where they intend to go when approaching an intersection, by staying on the right side of the road in the bike lanes when possible and remaining visible and predictable.
Owner of Rohnert Park’s Breakaway Bikes and avid mountain biker, Phil Fifer, believes lanes intended for riders could be significantly better if they were clear of the residing potholes and debris. In the six years since he opened his business, he has observed his clientele change considerably, primarily in the last couple of years.
“We’ve moved from a family-oriented bike store to more professional mountain biking,” he says, attributing this to both the economy as well as his personal expertise.
Healthy and economical, biking is both a recreational sport and functional form of transportation. Because most accidents can be prevented, it is similarly the job of drivers and riders to look out for each other on the bikeways so it can remain a national model of a bike-friendly community.