Most of Soquel Drive across Santa Cruz County has decently wide bike lanes and shoulders. This makes this smooth road a favored route for road cyclists. There are a couple of pinch points to watch for, though.
One of them is the spot where Soquel Drive passes under the railroad viaduct at Aptos Street.
A cyclist was seriously injured at this location on Sunday afternoon when the driver of a Ford Fusion foolishly tried to squeeze past the guy on a bike. According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the driver dangerously crossed the centerline to pass in spite of oncoming traffic and then swerved back over directly into the cyclist, sending the cyclist to the trauma center with major injuries.
Maybe there are places to make yourself skinny to allow traffic to pass, but this is not one of those spots. I don’t blame the victim here — the driver should have waited to pass until it was safe and he clearly made an unsafe move, if the news report is accurate. It’s only about 50 yards until the bike lane begins again, after all. Defensive Driving and Defensive Cycling is about anticipating the Other Guy’s boneheaded moves, though, and in this case driving behavior is very predicable — they’re all gonna try for the unsafe pass.
I cycle past this spot about once a week, and I’ve learned to anticipate the squeeze. I look back for a hole to merge into, signal my intentions and move all the way over to the left side of my lane, almost to the centerline.
Where are your cycling pinch points, and what’s your strategy to avoid conflict at them?