Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Share the Road


It has come to my attention that there has recently been a significant spike in the number of accidents involving bicyclists and motor vehicles. In fact, so many that I felt it would be worthwhile to inform students of the Liberal Studies community about bicycle safety. A little over a month ago I was casually riding my bike home from campus after a PALS meeting. I was on a two-way street in the Avenues as a car entered onto the street coming from the opposite direction. As typical two-way traffic occurs, we were facing one another for a good ten seconds or so before passing directions; naturally, I assumed the driver was aware of my presence. I quickly realized that assuming was quite possibly my biggest mistake. As soon as we crossed paths I heard the tires of the car whip around and before I could even look to move I was hit. The last thing I saw was the front right corner of the car hitting my bike as I was knocked onto the concrete. Oh, and let me add the lovely detail of smacking my head on a parked car as I went down…just awesome. I’ll wrap it up by letting you know that my bicycle and I were okay; just some bruises and the need for a new kickstand.

I went to class the following morning and couldn't help but over hear a classmate of mine talking about how she was hit by a car near campus on her route to school. The following Monday I went to a different class to hear what you ask? YES, another friend of mine had been hit by a car and it had damaged her bike severely; luckily both girls were fine. This was blowing my mind, I had to look deeper. It turns out that in the month of February there were at least 8 similar accidents that were reported to the University Police Department ; and since neither I nor my two other classmates reported our incidents the numbers were definitely higher. There was even an accident between a vehicle and bicyclist on Legion Ave during the campus bike safety event - how ironic right? The point I want to make is that we are all certainly aware of how many distractions can take place while driving a vehicle (music, texting, conversation, road rage, squirrels, etc.). Therefore, as a bicyclist we have to assume the worst from the driver in order to protect ourselves from harm – because trust me, you are not going to win.  As a driver, please be aware of the laws involved in sharing the road and avoid such distractions as much as possible. There’s no need to be a show off as a bicyclist or a driver when it comes to the safety of a human life. 

I have provided a link from the California DMV website about the laws and regulations revolved around bicyclists.

The website states: 

"Each year in California, more than 100 people are killed and hundreds of thousands more are injured in bicycle collisions. Some bicycle related crashes are connected to the bicyclist’s behavior, while others are due to the motorist’s lack of attention.

Here are the four main tips to follow as a bicyclist:
  • Maintain control of your bicycle.
  • Protect yourself–reduce the risk of head injury by always wearing a helmet.
  • Be visible, alert, and communicate your intentions.
  • Ride with traffic.
Chico is a beautiful community to enjoy bike riding as either a commute or leisure activity! We as students of the university should feel fortunate to know that the city clearly cares about making an effort to constantly improve safety measures for bicyclists. Many of you returning students may have noticed the new green bike lanes painted in the main areas of downtown – another simple indication to drivers to share the road. It is very unlikely that such additions will be used in residential areas anytime soon; which is where a lot of accidents tend to take place due to lack of road space. 

So remember! Maintain control, protect yourself, be visible in communicating your intentions, and ride with traffic. 

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