Let’s promote bicycle safety

Editor:

While I don’t condone the examples of bicyclist bad behavior cited by Greg Hansen in his letter (“Give them three feet; they’ll take a mile, Jan. 9), as a frequent bicyclist on the West End I can understand the reluctance of many cyclists to share the streets with sometimes inattentive or rude drivers. Just today during my one-mile round trip down Santa Clara Avenue I had an aggressive driver come up close to me at a stop sign and then insist on passing me in the face of an oncoming car and a red light one block ahead. One minute of patience would have allowed the driver to safely and comfortably pass me. On the return trip, thanks to a car parked in the bike lane, I had to swerve out into the traffic lane. Fortunately I had enough advance warning to check the traffic lane and to ring my bell to (hopefully) alert the parked driver and to prevent him from suddenly opening his door or pulling out in front of me. The sidewalk starts to look mighty tempting when you compare the damage from swerving to avoid a pedestrian versus being swerved into by a car whose driver didn’t notice you. I assume that you keep at least a yard between bumpers as you drive through town; why would you want to travel less than that distance away from a much more vulnerable bicyclist? I always wear a helmet while biking — but I don’t expect that it alone will protect me from serious — or even fatal — injury should I get hit by a car. Let’s focus on mitigating the most dangerous behaviors (i.e. cars speeding and dangerous passing) through a combination of ticketing, creating more bike lanes and promoting more bicycle safety programs for both bicyclists and drivers.

— Penelope Gordon