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Los Gatos Cyclist

2003-01-19 3 min read Cycling General marco

Ok, I am not a member, and yet I subscribe to the Los Gatos Bicycle Racing Club email list. I am undecided whether to join the monstrous Alto Velo or the smaller and nicer LGBRC, so I thought I’d listen in and see how they treat people from the outside.

Short comment: so far, LGBRC beats Alto Velo hands down. The Velistas are obnoxious on the Expressway, behaving as if they own the place. They won’t let you pass, but their average speed (on the Expressway) is more warmup than real biking. And if you dare crossing their path, they’ll holler at you some arcane gibberish that is supposed to make you feel guilty for not being (a) slower than them and (b) member of their club.

The Gators are older, slower, but at the same time nicer and more welcoming. They are civilized where many Velistas are raw (to be fair, though, I have to say there are plenty Velistas that are more than nice). Well, regardless. Today I received a club email from one of the guys who had had a run-in with a car. What exactly happened is really hard to follow, but it seems the biker hit the car with his hand, then yelled at the driver, and then the driver got so mad he pursued the biker, cornered him with his car and then started a fight.

Strange thing to happen. And yet it happens all the time. Bikers and cars, an odd mix on public roads. Interestingly, the law is all on the side of the car, even if nominally it is always the driver that is at fault. The flow of traffic is optimized for cars, the laws are made for cars, even traffic lights usually ignore bikers and detect only cars.

That is not good. Not only because I am a biker myself, but because it must be clear that the main purpose of traffic is not to get from A to B in a fixed amount of time, but to get from A to B safely. And if traffic can be dangerous to bikers, then its laws and regulations have to change.

I cannot tell you how many times I was tempted to violate the law where I saw that obeying it meant risking my health and safety. And yet, brought up as I was in an orderly country, I stuck to the rule even where it made it easy for drivers to ignore me and run me over.

I am sorry for those that fight back, like the rider above. I have had friends that, just like this guy, kicked a car and risked the same rage accident. Call me a whimp, but I don’t believe that kicking cars will make anyone be nice to bikers. The opposite seems quite more likely.

Sometimes I’ll see police hunting down a biker that didn’t stop at a stop sign, and ignore the car that didn’t. Maybe that’s the place to start.