TAHOE CITY, Calif. — On the heels of America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride rolling around Lake Tahoe earlier this month, locals are reminding bikers and motorists that safety is a two-way street.
“I believe if we share the road, we truly have to share the road,” said Dr. Tim Schroeder, a Tahoe City resident and former competitive cyclist. “It doesn’t go one way.”
The 23rd annual bike ride sponsored by Bike the West and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society started and ended at Montbleu Casino Resort & Spa at Stateline on June 1.
Roughly 3,500 cyclists circled Lake Tahoe clockwise, and aside from Northbound Highway 89 (Emerald Bay Road) being closed from 6:30-8:30 a.m., the lake’s highways were open to through traffic during the ride.
According to accounts from Schroeder and other locals, the bike ride presented safety issues due to cyclists riding abreast and in packs, and refusing to move to the side to allow vehicles to pass.
“They are attempting to take over the road, and people get pretty edgy,” Schroeder said.
Curtis Fong, founder, CEO and event director of TGFT Productions / Bike the West — which produces America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride — said safety is of the “utmost concern.”
To ensure safety, Fong said the public is noticed of the event in advance; signs reminding cyclists to share the road and ride single-file are placed along the course route; participants are provided a list of road rules they must follow and initial a waiver; and race monitors are out on the course, as well as law enforcement officials.
“Rider behavior is something we are concerned about,” Fong said. “It comes down to law enforcement issuing a citation. ... I can’t enforce the law. All I can do is ask people to follow the law.”
Apparently, not all do.
During the June 1 ride, Kathy Davisson of Tahoe City said she witnessed a near-collision between cyclists and pedestrians at the stoplight by the Bridgetender and Fanny Bridge when a few cyclists failed to stop at a red light.
“I was shocked,” she said. “It scared me. They were going so fast. ... It could have been worse; (the pedestrians) could have been hit.”
This incident raised a question for her.
“We are supposed to share the road with them. Do they get to ignore stoplights and endanger lives?” she asked. “I am not against the races at all. ... As I do not race, I guess I would just like to know if the ‘rules of the road’ apply to the cyclists, as well.”
Fong said he thinks only a “very minority percentage” of participants break the rules, with this year’s America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride being a “relatively” safe ride.
Only two riders reported injuries — one participant went down on his bike and the other experienced a respiratory issue, Fong said. No conflicts between vehicles and other cyclists were reported.
Below are some safety tips from various sources and laws for cyclists and motorists when traveling the region’s busy roadways this summer.
Obey traffic rules including road signs, stoplights and lane markings.
Use hand signals before making turns or changing lanes to warn traffic around you.
Ride with the flow of traffic.
Ride in single-file lines, especially when a vehicle is behind and trying to pass.
Watch for surface hazards, roadway changes and vehicles.
Use lights and reflectors at night.
Wear a helmet.
Pay attention to bicyclists.
Slow down and give extra room when passing a bicyclist (beginning Sept. 16, California law requires motorists to maintain a 3-foot buffer between themselves and cyclists while safely passing).
After passing a bicyclist on your right, check to make sure there is enough room before moving over.
Don’t pass bicyclists if you will be making a right turn immediately afterward.
Don’t blast your horn when approaching bicyclists. It could startle them and cause an accident.
Before opening a car door, look for bicyclists who may be approaching.
Don’t obstruct or block bike lanes when parking.