Commuting on Two Wheels

By Christie Smith
|  Thursday, May 13, 2010  |  Updated 6:45 AM PDT
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Commuting on Two Wheels

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City council is considering bills that could raise fines on violations for bikers, require registration and even confiscation as a penalty.

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What a nice day for a bike ride. Why not make it official?
   
Hundreds of thousands of people in the Bay Area are expected to do just that today -- ditch the car keys and take to two wheels today as part of Bike to Work Day. Events are scheduled throughout the region to celebrate the benefits of commuting by bicycle.

About 3 percent of Bay Area commuters already bike to work, and that number usually spikes on Bike to Work Days. Rather than dropping back down to normal levels the next day, the number of bike commuters tends to stay high for days and weeks afterward, Andrew Casteel, executive director of the Bay Area Bicycle Coalition said.

Bicycle Coalition volunteers will be out at 27 energizing stations throughout the city Thursday to hand out snacks and reusable tote  bags. There will also be 17 energizing stations between Novato and the  northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge.

 Take me to the full list of energizing stations and Bike to Work Day events.

But saftey should be top of mind as cycling power en masse meets motorized travel today. Sharing just about anything is tough, just ask a kindergartener. Recently, a San Francisco Civil Grand Jury found that adults have the same problem: drivers and cyclists. They looked at trends, tickets and ways to safely share the road. Here's what they found:
 
Five top reasons for cyclist collisions in San Francisco where bicyclists were at fault:

  1. Unsafe speed
  2. Failure to stop at red light line limit
  3. Wrong side of roadway
  4. Failure to yield to approaching traffic
  5. Failure to stop at STOP sign limit line

Five top reasons for collisions with cyclists where motorists were at fault:

  1. Opening car door when unsafe
  2. Failure to yield when turning left
  3. Unsafe turn and/or without signaling
  4. Unsafe speed
  5. Failure to stop at red light limit line

The negative descriptors associated by motorists to cycling or cyclists were:

  • arrogant
  • dangerous
  • despised
  • erratic/unpredictable
  • inconvenient
  • irresponsible
  • vulnerable


Ouch, no love loss there.  Painful.  But they also looked at ways to open a dialogue to sharing the road.

The history of Bike to Workday dates back to the 1990s, when East Bay biking enthusiasts began holding energizing stations and pancake breakfasts to encourage people to bike. May is National Bike Month.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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