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August 9, 2020
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Share the roads

By: Eris Weaver
July 24, 2020

So far this month, two cyclists have been victims of hit and run while traveling Highway 1 along our beautiful coast. The victim was hit by a driver towing a travel trailer on southbound Highway 1 near Goat Rock July 2 was taken to Memorial Hospital with moderate injuries.  A similar incident – a cyclist hit by trailer - occurred in the same general location on July 12; unable to get a cell signal, he rode home battered and bruised.

How do you knock a cyclist off the road and not even notice?

One silver lining of the coronavirus shelter-in-place has been growing numbers of folks riding bikes. Since the partial opening, tourists and locals alike are flocking to our outdoor recreation areas. How do we keep everyone safe while sharing this narrow, winding road, where is no room for safe passing in many places?

The Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition has some suggestions for both drivers and cyclists.

Drivers: California law requires that you allow at least three feet between any part of your vehicle and any part of a cyclist when you pass. That includes side mirrors! If you are towing, remember that your trailer may be wider than your vehicle and exhibit some side-to-side motion, so when in doubt, allow more room. If you cannot pass with enough clearance, you must slow down and wait until there either the cyclist pulls over or the road becomes wide enough. Take a deep breath, enjoy the scenery, you’ll get there eventually!

Cyclists: The vehicle code requires us to ride “as far to the right as is practicable.” That doesn’t mean you have to hug the very right edge of the road; if there is debris, potholes, vegetation, you are allowed to ride as far to the left as you need to.   If there is no room for a vehicle to pass you with three feet of clearance – the safest thing to do is take the whole lane. That can feel scary, but it can prevent a driver from attempting an unsafe pass and is completely legal. If cars are piling up behind you, do the polite thing and pull over when there is an opportunity and let them pass.

When you are on a path shared with pedestrians, remember that a passing cyclists feels the same to someone walking as a passing car feels to us! Observe the 15 mph speed limit on shared paths, call out to warn folks of your approach and give them plenty of space. Wear a bandanna around your neck and pull it up over your mouth and nose when you must pass people closer than six feet.

No matter how you are traveling – on foot, by bike, in a vehicle – remember we all must share the space and treat others the way you’d like to be treated.