Sharing the road with cyclists on mountain roads

A guy driving a 12 foot wide flatbed truck down Old San Jose-Soquel Road got stuck behind a pack of cyclists. He stayed behind the cyclists for several miles, but honked when he was finally able to pass. He’s surprised the cyclists reacted with the one finger wave and a water bottle thrown his way and asks how he can keep the peace.

Road cyclists can attain the 40 MPH speed limit while descending this road, but this is too slow for many motorists. I average 35 MPH on this road (and that includes the time I stopped to fix a flat tire) and I’m far from a fast cyclist. Freddie Rodriguez (yes, that Fast Freddie!) has the KOM for this road at 47 MPH.

For self preservation, cyclists will control the entire lane to avoid getting clipped by impatient, speeding drivers. Aaron Freita was descending this same road last May when he was clipped by the driver of an older model Audi wagon in a hit and run collision. 20% of reported car-vs-bike collisions in Santa Cruz County occur on Soquel-San Jose Road.

Ramona (the author of Street Smarts Santa Cruz) consulted two people for her answer: a transportation planner from the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission; and a California Highway Patrol officer from the patrol office in Aptos. Guess how they answered?

The transportation planner Cory Caletti. Custom bike aficionado might recognize her last name. That’s because she’s married to custom bike builder John Caletti, and she’s a dedicated road rider herself.

The CHP officer, Sarah Jackson, is also a bike nut who was herself a victim of a hit-and-run while she rode her bicycle. That might explain why the Santa Cruz CHP office takes hit-and-runs against cyclists so seriously.

Both Cory and Sarah explained lane-taking and why cyclists on fast, downhill segments do not always move out of the way for following traffic.

You can read the full column here.

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