While he could never be considered a Rhodes scholar, Rodney King uttered a phrase during the L.A. riots in 1992 that still holds true today: "Can we all get along?"
On June 26, Walnut Creek triathlete John Greaves was cycling along Camino Tassajara when he was struck from behind by an auto and killed. Since that time, forums and blogs have carried a rising tide of vitriol from both motorists and cyclists arguing over who has the "right" to the road.
The law states clearly that cyclists have the same rights on the road as motorists. A fact which can be frustrating when you're stuck driving 20 miles an hour in a no-passing zone. And even more so when the cyclist in question then shoots through a red light in flagrant violation of the law.
But that does not encompass the majority of cyclists. We have a huge cycling population in this area and in large part they do a good job of obeying the laws. On any given day you can see them pedaling along Danville Boulevard and most stop at the stop signs and signals.
The argument has also been made that certain roads, like Camino Tassajara are unfit for bicycles due to the narrow lanes or lack of shoulders. Which many say also makes them unsafe as a commuter cut-off for those irritated with the slow-and-go on I-580.
Those same roads also give access to some of the best and most scenic cycling the area has to offer. Rather than try to make them off limits to cycling, perhaps Contra Costa County can look at widening the road and adding a bike lane, or the East Bay Regional Park District can examine how trails might be extended to give access to Mt. Diablo and the Morgan Territories without utilizing the disputed roadways.
Mostly though, what needs to happen is a shift in attitudes. The adversarial relationship needs to end between cyclists and motorists. A little empathy will go a long way to making the roads safer for everyone. Motorists need to consider that a rider going 20 mph is actually moving pretty fast and exercise some patience.
Cyclists, think about the cars stacked up behind you and how frustrated you'd feel if a group of pedestrians were walking in your lane and you were forced to slow or stop. It's all in your perspective. Those walkers probably feel they're moving along at a pretty good clip.
John Greaves died due to a tragic accident. Not because he put himself in harms way by riding on a dangerous road. All roads are dangerous if a driver loses control.
When you're out on the road think about the other vehicles and people around you. Not as obstacles slowing your progress and ticking you off, but as other human beings with lives and families, all of which can be lost in the blink of an eye.
Let's all try to get along.