Since 2004, SABA has been campaigning to raise awareness of cyclists’ rights to roadways shared safely and legally with automobiles by promoting the use of Caltrans’ “W79″ and “W79a” signs (a bicycle in a yellow diamond and the text “SHARE THE ROAD” in a yellow rectangle, respectively) throughout the Sacramento region.
SABA members, riding groups like the Sacramento Bike Hikers and the Sacramento Wheelmen, and the city and county Bicycle Advisory Committees helped identify locations that would most benefit from the signs — locations where there is a high bicyclist/motorist collision rate, where there is a lot of commingled bicycle and motor traffic, where automobile traffic moves at a much faster rate than bicyclists, narrow lanes or lanes with no shoulder, known bicycle routes, and conflict points like intersections.
While the w79 signs are rather explicit, they do require funding to install and maintain. For cases where a sign was appropriate but funding couldn’t be secured, SABA pushed for the adoption of “sharrows” — painted road markings showing a bicycle icon with a pair of arrows above it to indicate to bicyclists and motorists alike that bicycles belong on the roadway.
In addition to roadside signage, SABA took the unusual step of printing up thousands of “Share the Road” bumper stickers (one comes with your SABA membership) to help distribute the message, even offering them for free to public agencies.
One key to properly shared roads is knowledge of how roads should be shared. While SABA harangues the DMV and law enforcement agencies to adopt Share the Road practices and sponsor motorist training, we have made important steps towards motorist education ourselves, but providing training materials for bus drivers at local transit agencies including Roseville Transit, the city of Elk Grove’s e-Tran, El Dorado Transit, Sacramento Regional Transit, South Lake Tahoe Area Transit Management, Yolobus, and Yuba-Sutter Transit.
To help bicyclists learn how to best share the road, we’re happy to point to the California Bicycle Coalition’s wonderful website athttp://bikesafecalifornia.org/ and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Bicyclists’ Legal Guide at http://www.sfbike.org/?bikelaw_guide.
We’ve even developed our own “top ten” list for drivers, to help them remember that cyclists are legitimate road users with every right to the road, and that it is not recommended for cyclists to ride on the sidewalks, even in those few areas where it is legal.
Pass cyclists at a safe distance. Give them at least 3 feet. Allow more distance the faster you are driving. (CVC21750)
Open car doors carefully. Always see if it is safe to open your door by checking your mirrors or turning to look for approaching cyclists. Cyclists don’t have time to react when a car door is suddenly opened in front of them. Motorists “dooring” cyclists is all too common even though motorists are responsible for insuring opening a door won’t interfere with traffic. (CVC22517)
Merge right into bike lanes and close to the curb before making a right turn. When preparing to make a right turn where a bike lane is present, merge into the bike lane when it is safe to do so, within 200 feet of an intersection. Drivers should not overtake a cyclist just before making a right turn. They should safely merge toward the curb or bike lane, then turn. Near intersections bike lane stripes change from solid white lines to dashed lines. That’s the indication right-turners should be in the bike lane. Always use your turn signals before turning. (CVC21209)
Otherwise, don’t drive or stop in bike lanes. Drivers should enter bike lanes before intersections when making a right turn. Drivers may need to cross bike lanes to park, or enter or leave driveways. Otherwise, drivers should not enter bike lanes, such as to avoid waiting behind cars making a left turn. Drivers must not stop or park in bike lanes—cars blocking bike lanes force cyclists into traffic lanes. (CVC21209)
Look for cyclists when making left turns. Motorists may only look for large vehicles. Cyclists are smaller and sometimes hidden by the clutter of signs, pedestrians and parked cars near curbs. Yield to oncoming cyclists just as you would to oncoming motorists. Always use your turn signals before turning.
Don’t speed. You have more time to react at lower speeds and can avoid crashes. Low speed crashes are far more survivable than high speed crashes. A safe speed is lower than the speed limit when visibility, weather, road and traffic conditions dictate. (CVC22350)
Stop at red lights and stop signs. Red light runners endanger everyone on the road. Obey red lights and stop signs. Don’t pull out in front of cyclists–yield the right of way as you would to motorists. (CVC21461)
Use caution at interchanges. Interchanges can be scary places for cyclists. Slow-moving cyclists have to merge with vehicles accelerating too early to freeway speeds or slowing down too late from freeway speeds. Where there are two lane freeway on- or off-ramps, cyclists may have to pick their way across multiple lanes of heavy, high-speed traffic. Don’t drive at freeway speeds unless you are on a freeway.
Concentrate on driving and be alert. Don’t drive distracted. Someone’s life may depend on your driving. Give it the attention is deserves. Using a cell phone or eating while driving can result in inattention and tragedy. Even when you are concentrating on driving, cyclists can be hard to see, day or night. Young cyclists may be unpredictable and lack road sense. Any cyclist may need to swerve to avoid road hazards such as potholes or debris. Don’t drink and drive. If you have been drinking, your judgment will be impaired and you will be less alert. Many drugs cause drowsiness and don’t mix with driving.
Be considerate and patient. Don’t honk. Cyclists can hear your vehicle. It’s not necessary to alert them of your presence. Honking can startle a cyclist and cause them to swerve. Don’t yell, throw things, drive aggressively or harass cyclists. Respect your fellow road users. They may be a neighbor, colleague, family member or friend. When in doubt, yield to cyclists. Waiting until it is safe to pass a cyclist usually takes only a few seconds. (CVC27001)
California Vehicle Code (CVC) references can be found at http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/vc/vc.htm.
Last updated 2011-04-5 01:00:26 PM (EST). Please send corrections and revisions to our Webmaster.