Viewpoint - July 8, 2009

Letter: Some rules of the road for cyclists

As one who has biked on busy roads and rides on Alpine Road almost every day, I must say that although there are many good bikers, many do not ride defensively. At college in the UK the police used to regularly cite bikers for riding on the sidewalk and riding without lights.

I would consider passing a town ordinance that mandates single-file riding on all Portola Valley roads and installing Bike Single File signs on Alpine Road, then citing people who ride two abreast or talk when they ride or ride with headphones.

I would also ask the sheriff to cite bikers for any violation of the California Code ( or breaking the speed limit, unless they have a permit.

I would consider exemptions for pelotons or competitive cyclists (we need our Olympic medals) if they have a permit (could be issued for a year) and they have a car or bike in front with flashing lights just as one would have for a wide load. One could consider having a car behind, but I don't think this is necessary as there are already rules for crossing the double yellow line if cars try to overtake a crowd.

This is what I mean by defensive cycling:

1. Stop at all stop signs.

2. Signal before you turn.

3. Always ride as if your bike is a vehicle, not a recreational, toy and obey the California Code.

4. Always be aware of sounds like a sneaky Prius that may be in electric mode and come close without you hearing it.

5. Ride with a rearview mirror or be prepared to look behind so that you are always aware of what is behind you. A fast bike that comes too close may be as bad as a car.

6. Don't swerve or stop for squirrels.

7. Expect cars to cut you off and don't try to beat them.

8. If cycling past a parked car look for people inside it, look for reversing lights or indicator lights, and make sure you have room if a door opens.

9. Navigate the cracks — there are some near Ford Field on Alpine Road — and if you have skinny wheels know how to cross a crack or avoid it entirely.

10. Keep your bike well-maintained with good tires, properly inflated, check for loose nuts and bolts, make sure gear wires and brake wires are anchored properly.

11. Wear bright colors with noticeable patterns so drives can easily see you on the road.

12. Wear appropriate gear, including a helmet, and don't let shoe laces or trousers get caught in the chain, etc.

13. Never go so fast that if a deer jumps out at you you can't stop. I've had deer jump off the path opposite Roberts from high up and come out just below Ford Field. They are worst in October when they rut.

14. Beware of dogs on long leashes, children playing with balls, skateboards, scooters and pedestrians who may come in front of you. Always think where you would go if they did.

15. At every driveway listen and look for cars coming out.

This list may seem pedantic, but it comes with over 40 years of experience biking on roads. Have fun and safe cycling.

Angela Hey

Alpine Road, Portola Valley


Posted by CC, a resident of Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Jul 8, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Very well written:) Passing a town ordinance that mandates single-file riding on all Portola Valley/Woodside roads and installing Bike Single File signs is a great idea...

Posted by Joanna, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 8, 2009 at 2:59 pm

Bikers should ride in single file.

Posted by Bob Loblaw, a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Jul 9, 2009 at 2:32 pm

A town doesn't have the authority to make that kind of regulation. Bicycle use falls under the California Vehicle Code.

Posted by Devin Kruse (Cupertino), a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Sep 28, 2009 at 7:17 am

Re: Navigate the cracks (groove) near Ford Field on Alpine Road
Does anyone know if this crack (groove) was reported to the Town of Portola Valley as a "dangerous condition", or why this groove was cut in the bike lane ? On Sept 11/2009 I caught my front wheel in in this groove and crashed. I suffered a collapsed lung, type 3 shoulder separation, and possible fractured ribs. After spending two days in the hospital I came home and reported the groove to Howard Young, (Director of Public Works, Town of Portola Valley). The groove has since been filled. If anyone has any more information about this groove could you please contact me
Devin Kruse 408-252-1276
Thank You

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields