Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

Student Cyclist at SJSU

Why do we need bikes to be ridden across campus?
There is a proposal to change Presidential Directive 90-01, the bike policy at SJSU, I am a bicyclist and I am against such a change. In my opinion it is not necessary to change this policy. In my opinion, the policy as currently constituted meets the needs of the university. In fact, in my opinion the need today may be even greater than it was then to have such a policy to protect the safety of both pedestrians and cyclists.

If you go to this page on the Website of the Parking Traffic and Transit Advisory Committee at SJSU, you can view all the related proposals. On this page you can read a story that ran in the Spartan Daily on the subject.

A question of safety
I was the president of the staff employees union at the time the old rule was passed and was on the Campuswide Safety Advisory Committee (CSAC) that recommended to the university president Gail Fullerton that bicycle riding, not bicycles themselves, be banned from the campus core. This was after several people were struck by speeding bicyclists in and around the campus.

Why is this policy needed even more now?
Most folks riding bikes on campus are not trained cyclists using appropriate safety gear and practicing appropriate riding safety. In my opinion the old policy is even more needed more now because there are more people on campus and the casual cyclists are more distracted by things like cell phones and iPods that did not exist when the old bicycle policy was drafted. A large number of these casual cyclists do not use safety devices like bicycle helmets or use bells and other devices to alert pedestrians to their presence. Even if the cyclists do attempt to be heard, many students now have iPods and phone headsets and are less aware of their surroundings than ever before. Despite this many cyclists, and I use that term now to mean anybody riding a bike on campus, ride at an unsafe speed through crowds and often do not warn folks on campus of their presence. I have seen, and photographed, folks riding track bikes on campus. These are hard core racing bikes that only have one gear, a fast gear, and do not have brakes. Track bikes are designed to be ridden on bicycle racing tracks, like the San Jose Velodrome in Hellyer Park.

What about students, faculty and staff who are disabled?
According to the Spartan Daily Temesgen Atzbaha, Associated Students director of campus climate affairs and member of the Parking, Traffic and Transportation Committee, said the current bicycle policy is “unclear and that the new policy would make rules easier to understand.” That is all well and good, in my opinion, but it does not meet the needs of folks who are most likely to be impacted, literally, if bicycles are ridden on campus. Disabled members of the campus community may not hear or see the approach of a bicyclist and/or may not be able to get out of a bicyclists way or may even go into their path.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
In my opinion the old policy was adequate. To be clear, the old policy did not ban bicycles on campus. The old policy identified bicycle corridors on campus where bicycles could be ridden, they could be walked in the campus core. This way bicycles could be brought close enough to be safely walked the remaining short distance needed to reach anywhere a bike could need to go at SJSU. What I think we need is more, not less, enforcement of the bicycle policy (and remember I am a bicyclist!) If the policy isn’t broken, why “fix” it?


Three on a bike

Three on a bike on campus
I photographed this on my way to work. I have seen them several times and I wish I knew the story behind it.

Riding Tandem on a Single

Camera Phone Post: Morning Cyclist at SJSU
To most folks all bicycle riders are the same, are cyclists. In the morning I often see a couple of guys riding kids across the San Jose State University campus on bikes on their way to places unknown. The other cyclist I see actually has two kids on his bike, one on the top tube, the other standing on the chain stays. None of the riders wears a helmet. This morning I was able to grab a shot with my camera phone. Note the almost flat rear tire. Beware of potholes, bumps and the ides of March!

Editorial: Danger on the roads

Posted: January 22, 2007 in Bikes, Cycling, Safety

Amid reports of another cyclist almost killed by another apparently negligent driver a cyclist wrote, “it be nice if all cyclists could file a class action suit against any drunks/aggressive drivers who we all face but are lucky enough to escape from.”

I think this would only be fair if the reverse would be true if good motorists could also collect from aggressive cyclists who create a dangerous situation with the possibility of causing an accident the good drivers are lucky enough to escape from.

Just as there are bad drivers there are also bad cyclists. A week ago my wife Sue and I were driving west on Shannon after a hike. We passed a cyclist who was going up hill. As we descended the road at the speed limit the cyclist pulled up behind us, inches from our rear bumper, filling up my rear view mirror. He was a big guy with a white beard who looked like Santa Claus and was riding what looked like a green Masi. There was no place for me to pull over to let him pass. Everytime the road pitched up he dropped back. When the road pitched down he was back in my mirror. I maintained the speed limit (as I always try to do) no matter the incline.

If a deer had pulled out in front of me I would have had to hit the deer or else, had I hit the brakes, have this idiot cyclist plastered all over the back of my Subaru. Had the idiot cyclist been driving a motorized vehicle his tailgating would have been clearly against the law. But, some cyclists seem to think it is okay to “draft” vehicles at any time without the drivers consent. Had I not been a cyclist myself this dangerous behavior might soured me on all cyclists.

I think we should prosecute all folks on the road who drive or ride dangerously and should be able to file appropriate suits. I wonder how we would identify this class though as it involves both motorists and cyclists as well? Perhaps we could call them “idiots on the road”?

As a driver/cyclist I am constantly amazed and frightened by what folks on the road do these days. I always try to leave at least four seconds between myself and whatever is on the road in front of me except when I pass. When cyclists draft cyclists, even when both are consenting and working together it is hazardous But, at least both parties are consenting. I crashed my bike a couple of years ago when I was on my way to work drafting another cyclist. A car pulled out of a side street, through a stop sign in front of my riding buddy. I broke three ribs when my buddy had to stop quickly and I hit his rear tire. The car that pulled out in front of my riding partner kept going without stopping. When cyclists draft cars that do not consent to being drafted, it can be frightening for the driver and add to road hostility.

I was almost hit twice within about 5 minutes last Friday by lunatic drivers; and I was in my car! I think there is a growing level of anger and selfishness that is manifesting itself on our roads. Cars are lethal weapons! Have you seen car ads on TV lately? They show people driving like lunatics and sell cars based on how they can be used aggressively!

In my opinion: Anything that can be done to lower the tension level on the road and increase civility among road users is a positive thing. I believe only by treating each other with respect, building change one user at a time, refusing to give in to anger, giving folks space and at times returning kindness for rudeness can we diffuse the mess our roads are. In my opinion it is not about car vs. bike, or even car vs. car. I think it goes deeper than that.

If you have time for a video, I wish we had this kind of patience and respect for each other and could manifest that in how we use the roads.

Too many innocents are dying, both cyclists and motorists!