The recent death of Debra Deem is unacceptable. People have asked “How many more?”
My answer is simple: “None.”
The time has come for us to stand together and do something that makes a permanent difference. Not a Facebook campaign, or an Internet petition, or a town meeting, or an angry letter to the city/sheriff/police chief.
The time has come for us to do what is simple and what is right.
I believe the problem is painfully simple. We are afraid to ride in the lane, where we belong and where we have alegal right to be. We are afraid because we don’t want to get hit, so, paradoxically, we ride on the shoulder or in the gutter, where we are much more likely to get hit.
What’s even worse is that we stop riding on certain roads, confirming the cagers’ claim that no one rides bikes “there,” and further curtailing our presence on the road.
The solution is simple: Take the lane. It is ours. We belong there. It is safer. It trains cagers to expect us. It forces cagers to acknowledge us. It demands that cagers make a conscious decision: Hit us or slow down and pass.
It’s my firm belief and it’s my experience that they will slow down and pass. If they choose to murder me for exercising my right, so be it. At least they won’t be doing it because they didn’t see me. At least they might get a speeding ticket after I’m dead.
While we’re in the lane, they may curse. They may honk. They may get angry. But we will be safer, and more importantly, we will be making the road safer for everyone else. We will be doing what is our right. We will be taking a stand for the Debras, the Mariselas, and the thousands of others who have been killed for doing nothing other than riding a bicycle.
On Sunday I’ll be rolling out at 7:00 AM on the Kettle Ride, which leaves from the Manhattan Beach Starbucks. When the ride reaches Temescal Canyon, those who want to go ahead and do the usual ride in the usual way, that is, hugging the shoulder, dodging the rocks and glass and nails and sand and parked cars and behaving like second class citizens in terror of the cars that buzz them and harass them … those folks will go ahead and do their regular ride.
I’ll be taking the lane from Temescal Canyon to Cross Creek, where I belong, where I have a right to be, and where the cagers will have to deal with me as I am: A cyclist obeying the law and exercising his rights to use the open road.
I hope some of you will join me. We will ride single file in the lane. It will not be a fast pace. It will be steady, and it will not waver from its position.
This will be our first step to reclaim for Debra Deem what should have been hers all along: A safe and open and obvious and legal place to ride her bicycle. Once we complete the ride we’ll have a quick debriefing to talk about what worked and how we can continue to encourage actual riders on actual bicycles doing actual rides to reclaim PCH.
If this is succeeds as I hope it will, we can start thinking about how to reclaim the other roads that have turned so much of Southern California into a terror zone for bicyclists.
No more excuses. No more hand-wringing. No more waiting for advocacy groups, the highway department, or city governments to “give us a solution.” No more memorial rides for the innocent. No more lives lost and survivors’ lives wrecked because we were too afraid to do the right thing.
The solution is here.
The solution is now.
The solution is us.
See you there.