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.”