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A Bicyclist’s Viewpoint

Editor:

Bill Deline’s letter to the editor about the number of cyclists riding through Laguna is expected and deserved (“More Two-Wheelers on the Road Too,” Feb. 11, Letters.)

If he saw the New Year’s Day ride…yes, it’s huge (400+riders), and can stretch out over half a mile.

Laguna is a hub to a great many cycling routes to which many of us from Long Beach, Dana Point, El Toro, Irvine and beyond gravitate for the weekend’s longer rides in groups both large and small. Most cyclists stop at controlled intersections, but a lot don’t. Most comply with the vehicle code (which allows cyclists to take the outside vehicle lane if needed) but not all.

Can I share what we cyclists see nearly every few moments? Speeding cars biased to the right side of the outer lane, parked cars opening their left side doors when we approach, cars traveling in our direction accelerating around us only to brake and turn right, opposing traffic turning left in front of us, no bike lane, objects thrown at us (not a rare thing!), bike lane debris, vehicle drivers intentionally startling cyclists with horns and feint swerves, damaged road sections, etc, etc….you get the idea.

The narrow road, undulating terrain, close quarters, congestion, etc., make riding through town a tight prospect (Coast Highway through Corona del Mar is similar, but it’s less than a mile versus the seven miles to ride through Laguna) and that plays into the tension.

Please understand that nearly all veteran cyclists personally know fellow riders killed and seriously injured by motorists. Some were run over from behind as a car drifted into the bike lane. Some had dismounted their bikes due to a mechanical issue and were hit. Other cyclists did it to themselves by running red lights only to collide with a car. Some were killed by mishaps from losing control and crashing into a roadside object to blowing a front tire and striking their helmeted head against the pavement. As well, all of us have crashed at least once.

Bill, I understand your reasonable complaint and as a sport, we should impress the minority contingent of reckless riders to follow the law, but for the rest of us, we just can’t figure out why drivers are indifferent or incapable of factoring a margin of error when around cyclists. I’m not alone on this view that Laguna presents a driving challenge and perhaps even a thrill for motorists given that on Sunday morning’s bike ride (through eight cities), it’s the Laguna Beach police who are by far the most active as noted by the multiple vehicle traffic stops.

I know I’m in good company when I say that many drivers just don’t see the big picture and accept all components of the driving environment.

Marc Morin, Long Beach

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