Bicycle events and traffic control

By From page A7 | April 18, 2014


On Saturday, March 29, my wife and I were driving down Marshall Road on our way to the Coloma Club Cafe for our usual Saturday breakfast. As we approached the stop sign at the intersection of Marshall Road and Highway 49, we were forced to quickly slam on the brakes as a horde of bicyclists traveling south on 49 came around the corner.

The riders were moving at a quick clip, did not even slow for the stop sign on their side and were cutting the corner into our lane. I expressed my displeasure and they responded in very rude terms.

We went into the cafe and made a comment to friends about the riders. Two people seated at a table with their friends suddenly jumped up saying,”‘The riders are here…” It turned out they were “traffic control.” As I watched their “traffic control,” it appeared they were more concerned with waving riders through the intersection than controlling motor vehicle traffic.

I later found out the riders were part of a charity event and were on an organized ride. The organizers made several errors:

1. There were no signs on Marshall Road or Highway 49 advising there was a special event with traffic controls ahead. There should have been at least two signs up the road at different distances to warn drivers.
2. The “traffic control” people were apparently more interested in sitting in the cafe drinking coffee with their friends.
3. The “traffic control” people had no obvious training, meaning no clue, on how to do their job.

The simple solution for the organizers is:

1. Get some signs made … simple messages such as “Special Event, Traffic Controls Ahead” would work wonders. They are also generic enough to be used over and over for events.
2. Have traffic control volunteers that are aware of the timing of the event and know where they are to be.
3. Train the volunteers in proper traffic control and have the right equipment, i.e., a stop sign similar to those used by crossing guards … not an orange plastic flag.

Had there been some warning of the event and traffic controls I would have had no problem with slowing or stopping short of the intersection for the event. However, to approach an intersection and suddenly be confronted with streams of bicycles running the stop sign and cutting into my lane and not having any warning at all is unacceptable.

Final comment: I understand and appreciate that bicycle riders are working to stay fit and enjoy the outdoors, however, too many seem to think they are exempt from traffic laws — they are not. (I am referring to the average weekend riders, not the participants in special events with appropriate controls.) Stop signs are for all of us. Too often I see bike riders flying through stop signs while all motor vehicles are stopping. Motor vehicle drivers are constantly reminded to “Share the road,” but bike riders must remember that share the road applies to them, too.

Garden Valley

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