This morning I was a block from home on my ride to work. I was going down a small, yet steep hill with an immediate right turn at the bottom. I had to quickly dart out of the way of another cyclist who was riding down the wrong side of the street. On my ride home this evening, a guy riding a beach cruiser was also slowly salmoning, and right in the middle of the lane. Near MacArthur Park, a guy was riding on the sidewalk, then hopped off into the bike lane. He didn’t look before merging into the bike lane and cut me off.
I learned when I moved to LA that cycling the streets here is a whole different experience than biking around my neighborhood as a kid in the suburbs of Milwaukee. I had a few close calls which were all my own fault. Fortunately I made friends with a group of bike enthusiasts who taught me the ins and outs of street cycling. I’m still learning, but I’m able to maneuver my way through vehicle traffic with safety and ease.
Salmoning, or biking the wrong way down a street, is a big hazard. It forces other cyclists who are obeying the law to maneuver around the wrong way cyclist, possibly bringing them closer into vehicle traffic. This also puts all cyclists in that path at risk of a head-on collision. It’s sure not pretty when two cyclists collide that way.
Cyclists should always keep an eye and ear open for obstacles and dangers, including other bikers. If you’re a slow rider, move as far to the right as you safely can when other cyclists are trying to pass. Just keep an eye open for car doors!
Since bicycles adhere to the same rules of the road as cars, that means they shouldn’t be on sidewalks. Sometimes you reach a patch where it isn’t safe to ride on the road. In that event, dismount and walk your bike on the sidewalk until it’s safe to reenter traffic. And for goodness sake, watch where you’re going when you merge with traffic!
Not every cyclist in the city has made the necessary efforts to learn the etiquette and law of road biking. Every cyclist ought to learn, both for her own safety and others around. For every rider I call out to that he’s going the wrong way, I ask myself if they really know any better. My love for cycling encouraged me to seek out this information. For the casual rider who is looking for a quicker way to get to their job a mile away, they may not even think much about the safety issues. I’m a believer that a person should be able to do whatever stupid thing they want with their life as long as they aren’t hurting anyone, but careless riding falls into the “hurting others” category.
Vehicle and motorcycles drivers are required to pass a written and a road test in order to obtain an operating license. Should bicycle riders do the same? What other solutions could we strive for in order to help the problem?
Tell us what you think!
For more information from the LADOT regarding biking laws, check out the link below: