May is National Bike Month.
In the Bay Area cycling has been growing constantly over the last years. When we moved here in 2009 it was just the “new Golf”. Only middle-aged men with money seemed to ride around with their super expensive Cervelos and Spezialized bikes.
Now you actually start seeing “normal people” on average bikes, sometimes even without a helmet. They ride instead of using a car to run errands or even to ride to work. These are mostly the Europeans, I guess 😉
California is ranked # 8 in the Bicycle friendly state list. But riding your bike here still doesn’t feel very safe. The car drivers don’t take you seriously. They don’t accept you as a full participant of the traffic. I’m riding my bike in average twice a week as a workout and I run errands on the bike, too. If we go out locally, my husband and I ride the bike to the bar/restaurant.
Often I feel drivers think some things like:
Oh, poor woman. Are you not able to afford a BMW/Audi/Tesla?? Well, even if I’m not, there is no reason for you to ignore me in traffic, cut me when you’re driving off a parking lot onto the street or come too close to me while passing.
Why are you’re using a full lane?? Stay closer to the curb so I can pass you in the same lane! Guess what, I need some safety distance since I’m not having a ton of metal and airbags around me to protect myself. And actually it’s California law to keep a 3-feet distance from cyclists.
And women are the worst! Oh, I could go on forever now, but what’s the point?
A couple weeks ago my friend and I saw these signs on our ride through Los Gatos and I thought: This is an excellent development. And I was sad that I could not join the Ribbon Cutting Celebration because this is something worth celebrating.
(You actually see the green bike lane in the background.)
Not even half of the streets here have bike lanes, let alone colored ones. San Francisco for example already started installing green bike lanes in 2010. Bicycling-crazy Portland, Oregon, has colorized bike lanes at numerous locations and concluded that such improvements lead to better driver behavior and make bicyclists feel safer. A report found that 92 percent of motorists now yield to bicyclists compared with 72 percent before. And, perhaps more significantly, 87 percent of drivers now slow down compared with 71 percent before.
Cycling fatalities in California have gone up over the last years, so I’m really hoping that the cities will install more green bike lanes in the future. We’ll have to get involved and we have to try to make changes. I think we’ll probably paint the streets ourselves, if we have to.
Riding a bike is good for everyone.
And tomorrow is Ride your bike to work Day, so let’s ride.