Gary Brown: Nevada County no place to ride road bikes
First let me clarify where I am coming from to write this article. I am a former bike rider and triathlete from North County San Diego, so I know something about bike riding.
When I retired and moved to Nevada City, I could see this was no place to ride a road bike, this is off-road mountain bike country. The roads are too narrow with too many blind curves. One must have a death wish to ride a road bike on these roads.
To complicate things, I would say 80 percent of the riders here wear dark clothing; blue, black or green. These colors make you blend in to the road and vegetation which make it very difficult to see you. I can’t tell you how many close calls I have had not seeing a bike rider until I was almost on top of them due to their clothing. Worse, riding with these colors at dusk makes seeing them much harder. When I was riding, we would wear day glow clothing. I had green day glow strips on my shorts, orange day glow cover on my helmet, and a pink and green day-glow shirt or jacket. The friends I trained with would do the same, we wanted to be seen.
Two of my friends were involved in an accident at an intersection that resulted in one friend with a broken clavicle, and one with cuts and scraps and both bikes totaled. Time of day is also important to remember. Late night at dusk or dark is no time to be on the road, I found early morning was the best and safest time to ride.
The weather is another factor to take into consideration. I have seen bike riders on the road when rain is forecast, or worse, someone riding in the rain. Road bikes — I say again — have no traction on wet payment. Riding on wet payment is an accident looking for a place to happen, you have no ability to stop.
Now, do you have the right to ride your road bike on these roads anytime and put your life at risk? Of course you do. What you don’t have a right to is putting me and my family and friends’ lives at risk on these narrow, blind curve roads with the new 3-foot passing clearance law now in California. Meeting a road bike rider on a blind curve forces a driver to veer into the oncoming traffic lane to pass. This becomes even more of a problem with two or more road bike riders in a line. Yes, you must only pass when safe, but tell that to the driver behind me honking his horn.
To end, I hope you road bikers will look at the suggestions I have made to help keep us all safe.
Gary Brown, a former triathlete, lives in Nevada City.
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