One thing you need to know about Murrieta is that it is a beautiful place to ride bikes (and run, for that matter). You can train for hills and for long distance all with amazing scenery all around you. As you drive around my city it is rare not to see several groups of bikers on training runs. In fact, even professional bicyclists train here--to our great shame, we are the home to Floyd Landis who was stripped of his Tour de France win due to doping allegations. There are also many bike clubs that are run through the local bike shops. These bike clubs sponsor long bike rides, and this is where someone crossed the line.
Last weekend Jax Bike Shop riders were riding from the middle of Murrieta, down along the 15 Freeway to Rainbow, an area just south of Temecula (Link to Article). According to reports they were riding single file down the right side of the road when a man riding in a sedan got angry and allegedly swerved toward the bicyclist to scare them. In doing this he clipped one of the cyclists with his side mirror. Now this cyclist was not seriously injured, but that is beside the point. Usually when there is an encounter between a bike and a car, the cyclist is the loser.
The second incident that happened recently had to do with Cher. She was riding along PCH when she had an encounter with some bicyclists that had her tweeting, "FKNG bike riders on PCH! I HATE THEM ! Almost got in accident AGAIN ! Sic of these IDIOTS! Pull in front of u & theres nowhere 2 go!" Now I was not there to witness what happened to Cher, and I know that some cyclists can be less than polite on the road, but really, the road belongs to us all. And like the late Rodney King so aptly put it, "People, I just want to say, can we all get along? Can we get along?"
I chose to write about this subject this week not just because of these incidents that happened to random people I don't even know, but because I too have had cars be rude to me when I have been riding and running. As a runner, I am a pedestrian, and pedestrians always have the right of way. I try to spend a lot of my running time on trails and roads where cars are scarce, but when I need to do long miles it is often necessary to do some of those miles on the roads. And due to knee problems, I have to run on the asphalt because it is softer. I run towards traffic, and I always move over when I feel the car might need more room. What I don't understand is that when there are multiple lanes going each way, why can't the cars move over to the left lane in order to safely pass by, or at the very least slow down a little? I can't tell you how many times cars zoom by us without a care about our safety. Are people really in so much of a hurry that they can't put on the brakes a tad to keep a runner or biker safe?
And I feel even less safe when I am biking. It is true that I usually ride where there is a bike lane, but what non-bikers don't understand is that often these lanes are covered with sand, glass, water, or the lanes have cracks in them that our tires can get stuck in. So while I try to stay as far to the right as I possibly can, sometimes I need to move over a little to avoid these obstacles. I do look over my shoulder to make sure there are no cars, but sometimes cars just don't care. Some drivers honestly think they own the road, and it wouldn't matter if I was as far to the right as is possible--we are still obstacles to their getting someplace quickly. The other day when I was riding in Lake Elsinore with my husband Sean, I had a car come right up next to me and honk. It scared me so much that I almost lost control of my bike. Now Sean thought that maybe he was trying to let me know that he was there, but honestly, you would think that he would have know that sneaking up behind someone and making some loud noise often leads to that person jumping up in fright. And if that said person happens to be riding a bike, jumping up in fright is an especially dangerous thing.
Now I hope I have presented a somewhat balanced view of the car versus bicycle debate, or at least that I have helped non-riders and non-runners see things a little bit from our perspective. Please understand that most of us are out there trying to stay fit. We are not trying to get in your way or slow you down--we are just trying to maneuver the roads without getting injured. Biking and running friends, be polite to cars so that the cars' drivers are more likely to tolerate us. And car drivers, as you pass by us on the road, please slow down a little and remember that getting someplace quickly is not worth putting our lives in danger. After all, there is enough room on the road for all of us--we ALL belong!