It's time to educate bike riders
How many times do I have to slam on my brakes while at a crosswalk as bike riders, children and adults, who are already illegally riding on the sidewalk, continue their happy cruising, charging right into the crosswalk and in front of my vehicle?
A run on sentence? Perhaps.
A frustratingly illegal and dangerous situation? For sure.
It happened again tonight.
Two adults - a man and woman - were riding their cruiser bikes on the sidewalk on First Street West, going south across from the Plaza. They approached the crosswalk, slowed down by visibly applying their coaster brakes as if to stop, and then just continued right into the crosswalk in front of my moving truck.
As I was already signaling and moving into the crosswalk, I braked, but continued to make my left turn while hanging my head out the window to shout, "You're supposed to be ... (in the roadway while bike riding) ..." But I couldn't finish the sentence before I was rudely interrupted by the man's angry yell, "You're an idiot."
I beg to differ, sir.
I'm not the one performing three illegal actions. I'm in my proper automobile lane, where bicycles are legally bound to operate, I have the right-of-way and I am not pulling out in front of anyone who has the right-of-way. You, sir, are doing everything wrong.
I see kids and adults riding on the sidewalk almost daily. It's dangerous for them and dangerous for pedestrians for whom the sidewalk is built. Not to mention that it's illegal.
I see bikers riding on the wrong side of the road, going against traffic or blasting through stop signs at top speed. All these things are extremely dangerous to bike riders and automobile drivers, who are expecting people operating their wheels of choice to be in their proper place.
It's time to educate all our Valley bike riders, young and old, about just where and how they are to legally and safely operate their bicycles.
We designate thousands of tax dollars for bike lanes, promote green practices by suggesting we all ride our bikes whenever possible to reduce our carbon footprint, but somehow we have dropped the ball when it comes to safe riding education.
When we were kids, our school had a bike rodeo, a contest to showcase bike-riding skills like safely stopping on a line after riding at high speed, riding slowly in a circle without losing control, etc. And biking rules - which are state laws - and bike safety, would also be discussed. Students who excelled were given ribbons and recognition.
Schools are likely not in a monetary position to do this these days, but the laws and bike safety are still critically important things to teach and learn.
How many of you parents have discussed bike safety with your kids? The DMV motor vehicle handbook, which is a free publication, outlines biking rules of the road.
Now that warmer weather and impending summer vacation calls for lots of kids moving around town on bicycles, let's have some conversation.
It's not too late for kids to learn the safe and proper ways to navigate their bikes on the roadways of our community, even if it is apparently too late for the ignoramus who risked his person, and inappropriately abused mine, while traversing on this beautiful Sonoma evening.
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Joanie Bourg is a resident of Sonoma.