Freeway entrances are feared by bicyclists as California Transportation Authority engineers replace bike lanes with acceleration lanes. It is an ugly conflict zone between car and bike.
It was ugly.
The high-dollar, black sedan pulled up behind me. The driver laid on his horn scaring me and causing me to swerve. The car then swooped to my left and up next to me. He rolled down the window and began shouting, “Get off the road! Bicycles don’t belong here. There’s no bike lane here!???
I yelled back. “You’re wrong. You’re supposed to wait until I get by. You don’t know the law.???
It got uglier.
We were in the north-bound entrance to Interstate 5. I was churning up the overpass and he was trying to enter the freeway. Most bicyclists fear freeway ramps where CalTrans just abandons us in a no-man’s land of accelerating cars.
Finally, he hit the gas, cut hard right in front of my bike and zoomed down the freeway ramp.
That was the second incident between a bicyclist and a car during my ride to work today. A bicyclist was riding properly on the right side of Commonwealth in Fullerton. He changed lanes safely, crossing traffic and entering the center, left-hand turn lane. He was turning into a strip mall.
A car behind him just had to honk at him for no reason.
Potentially Fatal Failure to Communicate
What we have here in Orange County is a potentially fatal failure to communicate.
My Orange County Transportation Authority representative, Gail Eastman, asked this Veggie Biker to write a letter about the problems he observes commuting about Orange County. But, I also need a blog post this week to keep up my “Likes,??? so I am writing the letter as a post.
I have received similar (but not as violent) abuse from drivers of all descriptions. And I have observed bicyclists of all descriptions doing totally stupid things.
Most people, like the man today, appear to think bicycles should only be in bike lanes or, if there are no lanes, on the sidewalk. Few bicyclists are aware that one must ride with traffic—even on the sidewalk. Few bicyclists, and certainly no drivers, are aware several cities ban riding on sidewalks. And few pedestrians on a sidewalk want to get hit by a bike averaging 17 miles per hour.
But wait! There’s more! Bicyclists text while riding, nearly running into other bikers. I have seen this not just once, but several times.
And few if any drivers know they should check for bikes when opening car doors. Twice I’ve had drivers just stand there, zombie-like, unable to understand why I should be upset they almost “car-doored??? me.
And I was car-doored by a truck that stopped in the left lane, and the passenger jumped out into the bike lane. He hit the door. I didn’t.
Drivers and Bicyclists Never Trained
I believe much of the stupidity comes from the fact the California drivers’ test has only two bicycle questions, none relevant to anything above.
OCTA has a legal obligation to teach Orange County drivers and bikers California laws. The campaign has to be in English and Spanish. Most bicyclists with whom I commute appear to be poor immigrants.
I suggest the rear of every OCTA bus should have large posters that cars can read. “Yes, bicyclists can do this!??? The posters would show bicyclists riding properly in the street or making left-hand turns, as examples.
The right sides of busses should be devoted to messages for bicyclists. (I do understand, that ad revenue pays many of the bills.)
As I noted in another post, riding in the older cities of North Orange County is just a series of missed opportunities to die. (I could not believe when I rode through Irvine Friday just how nice urban biking can be with a choice of trails and really wide bike lanes.)
Last Mile & Last Minute
Our OCTA representatives, including Ms. Eastman, are very concerned about the last mile problem. How do people (and Orange County is getting older every year) get from the train station and bus stops to their final destinations?
I suggest Marshrutkas. These yellow mini-busses zip around Ukrainian towns following a set route, but not set times. They can stop anywhere to get as close to anyone’s apartment as possible. It’s a “swarm??? of public transportation. Forget the big hogs that flex in the middle; Give people little busses that totally flex. (Using bicycles to haul supplies, instead of using large trucks, is how General Giap won the Vietnam War.)
The Metrolink gets better every day. I no longer drive to Los Angeles in the mornings. But it is the devil to go from North County to South County in the mornings—or to go anywhere in the middle of the day.
We need more trains going opposite directions at more times.
My wife retired because she no longer wanted to waste up to four hours of her life each day in the Orange Crush. She needed a train that left Fullerton at 6 a.m. and arrived in Tustin by 6:45 a.m. She could easily walk the two miles to her office—plus earn exercise points. She worked a 10-hour day, four days a week. But the trains stopped running northward before she could walk back to the station at night. And, as in North County, South County busses, are much slower than just walking or biking.
Our OCTA representatives are caught in a chicken-and-egg quandary. We voters must get on board the entire concept of mass transport, not just a bus or train.
I can’t solve this one. But I believe I can solve the problem of public ignorance about bicycling. Let’s just do it!
Road killings are going to happen
This Public Education program cannot wait until next year. People are dying for it. Really, It’s getting ugly out here.
The number of white bicycles often placed at the site of bicycle deaths could be reduced with an Orange County Transportation Authority bicycle rights and responsibilities campaign for drivers and bicyclists.