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Letter: A 3-foot variance for bicycles on the road is not practical

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Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 12:00 am

Now that Gov. “Moonbeam” has signed it into law, a 3-foot variance must be observed between anyone riding a bicycle and an automobile. Evidently he has never ridden a bike on the back roads of San Joaquin County.

Take, for instance, roads that are so narrow that two cars must be very observant when passing each other. Now add a bike to the equation, plus an added three feet. Someone will have to yield. Turner, Sargent and Armstrong roads, for instance, are very narrow. There’s just not enough room for two cars and a bike.

I do support bike riding, but on roads that have a designated lane for bikes. I have at times observed three riders riding three abreast that refuse to move over. Evidently they are not aware of the California Vehicle Code stating that one rider must ride as close as possible to the side of the road, single file.

Oh, and by the way, when is the last time you saw a bike rider stop at a posted stop sign? What’s next, bikes on I-5 and Highway 99?

Ed Walters


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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Joanne Bobin posted at 10:10 am on Sat, Oct 19, 2013.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    I don't think I'm making this up, but it seems to me that several years back parents here in Lodi had a conniption fit about their kids getting ticketed for not wearing a helmet.

    I'm recalling something about protests for having to go to juvenile court in French Camp which amounted to a mostly full day of having to take off from work to accompany their minor child.

    I remember LPD used to conduct a bicycle safety course annually at many of the elementary schools. Not sure if that is still happening, but I notice now that many kids ride bikes on the sidewalk (illegal), ride facing traffic in the bike lanes (illegal), and don't stop at stop signs and/or fudge it at red lights (illegal).

    Long ago I was at the corner of Vine & Ham (at night), about to make a right turn onto Ham going south (the light was red for me). I checked left and right and started to proceed when suddenly I heard a big thud on the right side of my car. A teen on his bike, riding in the wrong direction in the bike lane smashed into my vehicle. He had no lights on his bike and was dressed in dark clothing.

    Fortunately, he was unhurt and his bike suffered only minor damage (the chain came off), but I had a huge dent in the right front quarter panel of my car. I made sure he was OK and then gave him and his bike a ride to his dad's auto repair shop.

    Now I ALWAYS have a very good look at what might be coming on the right before starting a right-hand turn.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 9:35 pm on Fri, Oct 18, 2013.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2372

    My oldest thinks I am a complete moron for telling him to wear a helmet and only wears it when I see him leaving and demand that he wear it. I am fairly certain he takes it off as soon as he rounds the corner. My middle and youngest wear their helmets all the time.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 12:30 pm on Fri, Oct 18, 2013.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2421

    I wonder though, when was the last time anyone here as actually seen a kid 18 or younger wearing a helmet? Sure, it's not always easy to tell with the older teens, as I'm sure once they do reach the age where they can make such adult decisions on their own (most opting to discard those annoying head-saving devices), but I'm talking about the ones who are obviously not yet 18. And while I am also sure the local police have little time to contend with such younger scofflaws, maybe it will take another unnecessary death to wake them up - and the parents as well.

  • robert maurer posted at 11:17 am on Fri, Oct 18, 2013.

    mason day Posts: 491

    Bicyclists should ride only on roads with marked bicycle lanes only? What a load of sewage and disrespect for others'rights.Long before hwy 88 was widened and the walnut trees removed,between Lockeford and Clements, many bicyclists rode that route, and only 1 bicycle death was reported that I know of, and that was caused by the bicyclist(a friend of mine) crossing lanes at the same time a car passed a slower car and an unavoidable freak accident occurred. Mr. Walters: About 3 years ago,at night ,on Crescent Ave. a brand new yellow Corvette went hot-rodding past me between Lockeford St. and Lodi Ave. pelting me with dirt and road debris. I would have loved to get 5 minutes alone with that disrespectful driver.Tell me it wasn't you as there are very few yellow Corvettes running around Lodi.

  • robert maurer posted at 10:30 am on Fri, Oct 18, 2013.

    mason day Posts: 491

    Too bad that courtesy,adhering to the rules of the road and common sense is missing regarding traffic and bicycles on both sides, and that we have to argue about bicycle lanes. It's sad that Mrs. Bobin had to waste her time posting her 3:10 pm.comment, for I'm certain it will fall on deaf ears and blind eyes.[sad]

  • robert maurer posted at 9:52 am on Fri, Oct 18, 2013.

    mason day Posts: 491

    In other words,back in a time when the pedals were on a 48 inch front wheel with a 14 inch rear wheel and no chain with 1 speed.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 3:10 pm on Thu, Oct 17, 2013.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Just curious what type of vendetta Ed Walters has against people who ride bicycles.

    FROM THE CA DMV website:

    When to Take the Traffic Lane:

    A bicycle lane is a designated traffic lane for bicyclists, marked by a solid white line, and typically breaking into a dotted line at the corner. A bicycle lane is different from a simple white line showing the edge of the road because it follows specific width requirements and is clearly marked as a bike lane.

    Many roads do not have designated bicycle traffic lanes, so bicyclists share the traffic lane to the left of the white line.

    If there is no shoulder or bicycle lane and the traffic lane is narrow, ride closer to the center of the lane. This will prevent motorists from passing you when there is not enough room. Bicyclists can travel at speeds of 20 mph, or faster. You should also use the traffic lane when you are traveling at the same speed as the traffic around you. This will keep you out of motorists’ blind spots and reduce conflicts with right-turning traffic.

    Motorists Passing Bicyclists:

    Be patient when passing a bicyclist. Slow down and pass only when it is safe. Do not squeeze the bicyclist off the road.

    If road conditions and space permit, allow clearance of at least three feet when passing a bicyclist.

    Obey Traffic Signs and Signals:

    Bicyclists must obey STOP signs and red signal lights. It’s a good idea to stop for yellow lights too–rushing through a yellow light may not leave you enough time to make it across the intersection before the light changes.

  • Ed Walters posted at 3:09 pm on Thu, Oct 17, 2013.

    the old dog Posts: 777

    To answer your question Kevin and I don`t mind answering it, concerning the last time I rode a bike, if your refering to a bycycle, at least 55 years ago, as soon as I discovered motorcycles.

    At least Jerome has a consept of what I am refering to, two or more cyclists riding side by side. Some people ( most ) do not have the time and will take a chance. On my way to Modesto yesterday some moran on a motorcycle passed me going at least 100 miles weaving in and out of cars, he might have got to where he was going, in pieces. Also Jerome, from your post I see I am not the only Pandora listerner, a great site, especially if you like the blues, really the only kind of music I like and listen to.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 2:49 pm on Thu, Oct 17, 2013.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2372

    Jerome. the reason for the professional biker outfits is for two reasons (at least that I have discovered). First is Compression. You are using muscles for so long that lactic acid builds. The compression aids in moving it out and increases muscle endurance on the rides. The second reason is uncomfortable rubbing. Saddle sores are a very irritating issue for cyclists and comes from wearing too loose of clothing that lets skin rub on skin or fabric.

    As for the side by side. I agree it is very rude of the cyclists. They need to be aware of the traffic situation and ride single file, especially when there are cars behind you. It is more aerodynamic to ride single file as well.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 12:59 pm on Thu, Oct 17, 2013.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2421

    I could be wrong (doubtful), but the law states that non-motorized conveyances (that would include bicycles) are prohibited on the big highways like I-55 and 99. Lobby all they might like, if they change that law there WILL be more deaths.

    Just the other day as I was traveling west on Jahant Road after turning off of Lower Sacramento Road I happened upon two “professional” cyclists riding side-by-side leaving one clearly in my path. These are the ones who dress as if they’re either in or heading to some sort of actual bicycle race. Thankfully I had only a short distance to travel along that road with solid double lines down the middle and all sorts of agricultural vehicles jockeying for position as well. What should have taken just a few minutes to reach my destination took at least double or perhaps triple time to get there. But I didn’t really mind as I was in no real hurry and Pandora was actually obeying my wishes as to the types of music I like to hear. Still, those two guys on bicycles continued side-by-side - not very safe; yet as far as I know they survived that day. Just don’t know about the five days since.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 11:17 am on Thu, Oct 17, 2013.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2372

    Mr. Walters, I'm just curious (and tone doesn't come out right here, this is just a curiosity question and not an attack) when was the last time you rode a bicycle regularly?

  • Ed Walters posted at 9:21 pm on Wed, Oct 16, 2013.

    the old dog Posts: 777

    OK: Now I know how the black sheep of the family feels, never the less, when riding on a narrow road and always wondering if the car behind you will be the last thing you see or hear, to much to worry about. Will the true cyclists lobby to ride on 99 or I-5? You know extra care is needed when a big rig goes by you, the wind can push you off the road. This was my opinion, most cyclists have their own rules, pass and ride on the wrong side of the road is common. Kevin you state a few riders give riders a bad name, about 90% give the other 10% a bad name.

    Treacy: from what you say I would hang up my bike and take up ping pong, hard to believe a cyclist would or could force a car off the road. The ER is always open.[wink]

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 5:12 pm on Wed, Oct 16, 2013.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2372

    "hardly since no fees are needed or paid, it is most difficult for me to believe they have the same rights a cars that must pay a tax for everything"

    I have heard this argument over and over. I DO pay taxes for the roads. With my car, every time I get gas. I HAVE paid for my "right" to use the roads. I just CHOOSE to use that right to it's fullest extent.

    As for the dark clothing, I never understood that either. My cycling clothing is all neon colored. Doubles or triples the distance a car can see me and I try very hard to not ride at night. When I do I have the correct lights. I ride with one dominate safety mentality, I am little more than a hood ornament to a car. My safety is my responsibility. Cyclists who ride with bad habits are just as annoying to me as bikers who ride with bad habits. A few giving the whole a bad reputation. We should separate the kids riding to get somewhere and the cyclists who are riding for health. I ride to fight the diabetes that runs in my family.

    I've done West lane to Stockton and back. Not long enough for me. My standard route takes me the equivalent of riding to Elk Grove and back.

  • Treacy Elliott posted at 3:39 pm on Wed, Oct 16, 2013.

    Treacy Elliott Posts: 78

    sorry Ed but you are wrong. True cyclists know the danger and pay more attention to drivers that drivers pay attention to cyclists. Cyclists don't require a license, but the bike can be licensed. Read the Rules of the Road. Cyclists have the same rights as motor vehicles, except they cannot ride on freeways unless it is posted. True cyclists do not wear dark clothing and ride without lights at night. Most true cyclists that ride quite a bit at night buy special clothing that is highly reflective and high intensity lights, front and rear. Also a true cyclist always yields to cars, we know the equation. Now, I've experienced more drivers that purposely try and force cyclists off the road for fun, then cyclist forcing drivers off the road

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 1:34 pm on Wed, Oct 16, 2013.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488


    What? I thought there was some unwritten point system for mowing down cyclists! Darn!

  • Ed Walters posted at 12:41 pm on Wed, Oct 16, 2013.

    the old dog Posts: 777

    I`ll start with Kevin: From your post you considered mine totally wrong, until I got to the last paragraph. At night I observe bike riders ride with dark clothing on and without a light making them very difficult to see. From what I understand, everyone that rides a bike must have a licence and a light, hardly since no fees are needed or paid, it is most difficult for me to believe they have the same rights a cars that must pay a tax for everything . Yes Kevin, riding a bike on a less than favorable road can be hazardous to your health. Take West Lane in Lodi to Stockton and back, about the safest road for bikes. Don`t get me wrong Kevin, I hope you make 6,000 miles.

    Next up-- Jerome-- while everyone thinks they are correct as he stated, even though they have the right of way, hard to believe they have the right of way since they get in the way more often than not. It would be difficult for me to believe that yourself Jerome, Kevin and Eric feel different when the shoe is on the other foot and you must wait for a cyclist to decide what you are going to do. Just like Roe v. Wade or the Gay issue, it is an issue that will never be solved. Riding a bike in SF is taking a chance that you will never reach your destination in one peice, or maybe in the back of AMR to SF General. You want exercise, get a stationary bike along with a big screen that will give you the feeling of being on the road and arriving at your destination in one piece. Happy touring.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 10:24 am on Wed, Oct 16, 2013.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2421

    The only problem I have with cyclists are those under the age of 18 who aren’t wearing helmets. I remember when the law went into effect some years ago - the cops were eager to enforce it. But without parental guidance to ensure that their kids are wearing helmets, there’s simply too many of them for the police to keep up with. So it’s obvious to me that they’ve given up.

    As far as yielding to them on the road, I always do - even when they think they have the right to ride to the left of the line that separates where cars should be and where they should be. After all, no one’s life is worth a few extra minutes it might take to wait for a safe time to pass them.

    In the final analysis, cyclists must understand that even though they might have the right of way, when colliding with a motor vehicle they’re going to lose. And those of us behind the wheel of our cars racing to whatever is so important that speed limits and other laws are too constrictive, having to live with the death of one of those kids out there will certainly be too high a price.

    In short, everyone should respect each other when sharing the roadways; not pick fights over who’s rights trumps the others.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 8:04 am on Wed, Oct 16, 2013.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2372

    Sorry Mr Walters but you are wrong on this.

    First Armstrong has a GREAT bike path, cars can easily pass, at normal speeds and observe the three foot rule without going into the on-coming traffic lane. I know this cause I am on the road, on my bicycle a lot.

    Now about the practicality of having two cars and a bicycle on a road with little to no bike path. Is your complaint really that you have to slow down for a few seconds until it is safe to pass the cyclist safely? So that means at the next light you have to wait 5 seconds instead of 10. OR if you are in that big of a hurry you can push on the accelerator a little more and EASILY make up the few seconds you slow down behind a cyclist.

    I have put on about 5000 miles in 3 years cycling the Lodi area (sometimes 600 miles a month), I have YET to see a motorist lose more than 5 seconds behind me slowing on the less than ideal biking roads. What I do get are drivers who, even though they have plenty of room, think it is a game to see how close they can get to me. I have on-coming drivers in such a hurry they pass the car in front of them by swinging all the way into my legal cycling lane. I have drivers on cell phones pull out from side roads paying NO attention to me forcing me into evasive maneuvers.

    That said I also have irritations from my fellow cyclists, like the ones that ride side by side. That is a traffic obstruction and I thought illegal. Other cyclists will ride outside the bike path or further into the road than they need. I try very hard to keep my tires one the white line if there is no bike path. And this belief by some cyclists in town who believe intersection controls don't apply to them drives me nuts.

  • Eric Barrow posted at 7:35 am on Wed, Oct 16, 2013.

    Eric Barrow Posts: 1714

    Yes Ed someone will have to yield or you could just run over the bike rider, it seems yielding would be the better option.


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