I recently saw a thread from a group of cyclists who were dismayed at being forced to ride on PCH between Temescal Canyon and the Santa Monica Pier. Several of the riders thought it was unsafe and were upset that their bike path cut-off had been shut down as part of the beach closures in L.A.
I thought it was a shame that riders are uncomfortable riding in the lane on that stretch of PCH. In fact, I haven’t ridden that section of the bike path or the cut-off in years precisely because that stretch of PCH is amazingly good for taking the lane.
For starters, it has three lanes, so there’s no rational reason to feel like you’re holding up traffic. Second, the lanes are narrow so if you position even a couple of feet off the fog lane there’s no way for a car to squeeze by. If you move over into the center or left-hand portion of the lane, there’s not a car on the road that will even think of squeezing in, which you can’t say for a lot of PCH. Third, you will always get honked at at least once, which is nothing more than an acknowledgement of the driver that he sees you and is going to pass by.
Of all the segments on PCH, this is typically the most densely crowded and the one I have had the fewest issues on, and by issues I mean scenarios where I felt like I could have gotten hit. The bike path that parallels it is so jammed up with bikes and walkers on the weekend that I’ve had countless close calls, and cleaned up quite a few spills involving others. One friend suffered a life-altering fracture on that section of the bike path, without a car in sight.
One reason that riders have such problems with safe but congested roadways like this portion of PCH is because they don’t normally practice lane control as much as they practice traffic avoidance. That works for a lot of cyclists until the inevitability of traffic hits and they’re suddenly lacking the skills, and most crucially the mental calm needed to navigate the roads with cars.
Anyone thinking ahead about the pandemic landscape in six months or six years surely recognizes that we won’t be returning to crowded places with the same alacrity as before. More people will see bicycling as a way to get exercise, get to work, or spend time with the family without additional exposure to pathogens. It may also mean more riders having to learn about lane control.
Could be worse.
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