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How to ride a bike in City Heights

With lights and the flow of traffic, for starters

El Cajon Boulevard, University Avenue, and Euclid Avenue are cited as frequent crash sites
El Cajon Boulevard, University Avenue, and Euclid Avenue are cited as frequent crash sites

About a dozen City Heights kids and parents took a class in safe bicycling on Saturday (May 14) that included a ride through the streets. They were extra-safe on this ride, with the president of the California Association of Bicycling Organizations at the front and three San Diego police officers from the Mid-City bike team in the rear.

"It's really valuable for us," said one mom, who brought her pre-teen kids. "I want to start riding with my kids but I don't feel confident about safety — and I worry about them."

The free four-hour class is a condensed version of a two-day class that Jim Baross and Michelle Luellen of the San Diego Bike Coalition have given a dozen times but which requires 14 hours to complete. The classes are funded through a grant with the state Office of Traffic Safety.

"This class is very specific to City Heights," Luellen said. "It's related to Vision Zero, where we looked at data to identify the places where pedestrians and bicycles are most often in crashes."

The coalition has identified El Cajon Boulevard, University Avenue, and Euclid Avenue as frequent crash sites and identified the causes of those crashes from police reports and their own observations. The coalition also teaches a class specific to Logan Heights and Southeast San Diego, where Market Street and Imperial Avenue have high incidences of crashes.

"More crashes happen from wrong-way riding than any other cause," Baross said. "You can't see a stop sign if you come up behind it; drivers can't see you crossing from the wrong side, and they don't expect to see you there."

At the heart of how to ride safely is the notion that bicyclists need to consider what drivers are expecting to see them do, Baross said.

The instructors also emphasized lights and safety gear and gave away red lights for the rear of the bike and white LED lights for the front.

"We stop people all the time for not having a light," Officer Norcia said. "We usually issue warning tickets — I don't want to have to come pick you up off the asphalt because you didn't have a light.”

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El Cajon Boulevard, University Avenue, and Euclid Avenue are cited as frequent crash sites
El Cajon Boulevard, University Avenue, and Euclid Avenue are cited as frequent crash sites

About a dozen City Heights kids and parents took a class in safe bicycling on Saturday (May 14) that included a ride through the streets. They were extra-safe on this ride, with the president of the California Association of Bicycling Organizations at the front and three San Diego police officers from the Mid-City bike team in the rear.

"It's really valuable for us," said one mom, who brought her pre-teen kids. "I want to start riding with my kids but I don't feel confident about safety — and I worry about them."

The free four-hour class is a condensed version of a two-day class that Jim Baross and Michelle Luellen of the San Diego Bike Coalition have given a dozen times but which requires 14 hours to complete. The classes are funded through a grant with the state Office of Traffic Safety.

"This class is very specific to City Heights," Luellen said. "It's related to Vision Zero, where we looked at data to identify the places where pedestrians and bicycles are most often in crashes."

The coalition has identified El Cajon Boulevard, University Avenue, and Euclid Avenue as frequent crash sites and identified the causes of those crashes from police reports and their own observations. The coalition also teaches a class specific to Logan Heights and Southeast San Diego, where Market Street and Imperial Avenue have high incidences of crashes.

"More crashes happen from wrong-way riding than any other cause," Baross said. "You can't see a stop sign if you come up behind it; drivers can't see you crossing from the wrong side, and they don't expect to see you there."

At the heart of how to ride safely is the notion that bicyclists need to consider what drivers are expecting to see them do, Baross said.

The instructors also emphasized lights and safety gear and gave away red lights for the rear of the bike and white LED lights for the front.

"We stop people all the time for not having a light," Officer Norcia said. "We usually issue warning tickets — I don't want to have to come pick you up off the asphalt because you didn't have a light.”

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2

Key to bicycle safety is visibility, a few bucks will get you a cheap vest, preferably bright green or orange. Lights front and back should be mandatory. Avoid congested streets such as EC Blvd and University, there are alternate routes on less busy streets. In my recent travels around the country I am appalled at the number of bicyclists with dark clothing and no lights. Signal your intentions when turning. Sharing the road is a two way street.

May 20, 2016

There's more to visibility than a vest or lights. You can still be invisible with those. They help very little if at all during daylight hours and reflectors only help you be seen by drivers who have lights shining on you, which means that they won't help so much when you're approaching them from a cross street.

The key to visibility is being where drivers are looking for traffic. That often means using the full lane like the driver of any other vehicle. Too many drivers only look for cars and do not think to look in bike lanes or on the edge for bikes. That's why we have sharrows and "bikes may use full lane" signs in so many places now. The places where those are installed are places where riding on the edge tends to make cyclists less visible to motorists or where lanes are too narrow for a bike and a car side by side within the lane. They are there to reinforce the exceptions in the far right rule specified by CVC 21202(a)(3) and (a)(4) to let people know that cyclists can (and should) use the full lane for their own safety.

Those signs and sharrows are not installed in nearly enough places yet. Cyclists have the right to use the full lane whenever it's narrow enough to result in close passes (which most right lanes are) or when approaching any driveway, intersection or ramp or to avoid the door zone from parked cars or any other condition which makes it unsafe to ride far right.

May 25, 2016

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