'Noon ride' of cyclists stop for safety clinic

They get a briefing on how to ride safely near horses

About 75 cyclists on the well-known "noon ride" voluntarily stopped their lunchtime workout on Jan. 23 in Portola Valley to hear a brief tutorial on "how to ride bicycles safely in the presence of horses, and of horse trailers."

The session was held at the Glenoaks Stables at 3639 Alpine Road and was coordinated by Rhonda Weiss, co-owner of Glenoaks; Dirk Himley, one of the noon-ride leaders; and John Novitsky, a Woodside resident, cyclist and horse owner.

Many cyclists who ride on roads west of Interstate 280 routinely spook horses, often resulting in dangerous and life-threatening situations for the horse, the bucked-off rider, the cyclists and motorists, Mr. Novitsky said.

The hope is that these cyclists will share what they learned with their teammates, and that safety will improve for all regional road users, he said.

Among tips during the tutorial:

● When approaching a horse, never surprise it. Speak to it in a calm and friendly voice to announce your presence.

● Slow down to under 25 mph so that the horse feels that it can escape/run away if necessary.

● Stay at least two "rear leg lengths" away from the horse. That's twice the length of the horse's rear leg.


Like this comment
Posted by driver
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 17, 2014 at 9:08 am

Does the 25mph speed limit also apply to cars passing horses or only to road bicyclists?

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Posted by Jerome Leugers
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 17, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Since i've been living in Pennsylvania in a very "horse-centric" community I have been educated by the other members of the cycling community. If the horse and rider are near the road, we stop and ask if we can proceed or would they prefer to ride past our group while we wait. We encounter a lot more horses than I have ever seen in Woodside; it's common courtesy and a safety issue for the equestrians., many of whom are professional trainers.

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Posted by J. Keimer
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Feb 17, 2014 at 3:49 pm

I hope the safety tips given cyclists included the strong recommendation to have both forward a rear facing flashing lights on their bikes. I'm amazed at how many cyclists I see riding without lights, naively trusting that motorists will see them, even when they wear dark clothing and ride at dusk. It's a crazy chance to take with potentially fatal consequences.

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Posted by john
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 19, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Answer to 25MH limit for cars when passing horses? In cars, it's "easier" to slow down even more since the power comes from gasoline, and a car driver can easily hit the gas pedal again. Same advice: slow down to under 25MPH, don't surprise 'em, and give the horse a wide berth. If the car is going slow on the opposite side of the road, the horse doesn't interpret it as a predator. If the vehicle/cyclist/runner approaches the horse at speeds the horse cannot outrun, and the vehicle is on a path directly approaching the horse, it will become nervous: the only question is how nervous?

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Posted by john
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 19, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Answer to we recommend lights for cyclists year round? Yes! Too many cyclists are injured or killed regionally, due to car drivers saying "I didn't see them" or "I underestimated how fast they were going, so when I turned left in front of them, I was surprised that they smashed into my car/truck".

Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 19, 2014 at 8:51 pm

Reply to Pennsylvania poster: I wish both groups could be so respectful and polite. Most are, but some are not. Happy to listen to your ideas on how to get both groups to be more polite and considerate, to all road users.

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Posted by Strobe lights
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Feb 20, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Too many cyclists have strobe lights or helmet lights which are in violation of the vehicle code, and can temporarily blind a motorist proceeding in the opposite direction. Safety first...some roads should simply be off limits to bicyclists. Cyclists have rights...too many are dead right.

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Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on Feb 20, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Flashing white lights for bicyclists are not a violation of the CVC, as far as I know. Can you cite a section that prohibits them? CVC 21201.3 prohibits the use of flashing blue lights on bicycles except by peace officers. CVC Sections 25250 through 25282 deal with flashing lights on vehicles but do not apply to bicycles because these sections are in Division 12.

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Posted by Observer
a resident of Woodside High School
on Feb 20, 2014 at 3:10 pm

This flashing light prohibition might be what "Strobe Lights" is recalling…

Flashing Lights

25250. Flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles except as otherwise permitted.
Web Link


670. A "vehicle" is a device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway, excepting a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.
Web Link

therefore no prohibition here

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Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on Feb 20, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Yes, a bicycle is not a vehicle. Operators of bicycles are given all the rights and responsibilities of the operators of vehicles (not motor vehicles) under Division 11 (rules of the road) of the CVC. Note that this applies to the operators, not the equipment. Some people mistakenly generalize this and think that bicyclists and vehicle operators (or bicycles and vehicles) are treated identically in all respects.

The hardest thing for bicyclists is to get drivers to see them. I laugh when I see them criticized for wearing brightly-colored outfits or using flashing lights. Ride a mile in their cleats before you level such criticism.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2014 at 2:46 pm

I LOVE seeing flashing lights and bright clothing w/cyclists. It helps at all times of day and night, in the hills and on crowded city streets.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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