Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
As a person who enjoys riding his bike around town, I was interested in Manteca Police Sgt. Greg Beall’s response to the woman of the child warned by an officer about riding his bike on the sidewalk adjacent to the golf course on Union Road, as that event was described in the ‘To Serve and Protect’ column of Tuesday’s Bulletin. Sgt. Beall wrote about the letter and the spirit of the law, and pointed out that the police usually do not take enforcement actions on any individual under the age of 12 riding on the sidewalk. He went on to say that even still, common sense does come into play.
Having ridden my bike many times on the part of Union Road in question, my common sense tells me that no cyclist 12 years old or older can ride their bicycle safely on that stretch of roadway. When the city resurfaced and restriped Union Road several years ago, they included a sort of bike lane south from Lathrop Road to Louise Avenue but no further, because there isn’t room for a bike lane as the roadway is configured now. In fact, the right lane is too narrow to accommodate a vehicle and a bicycle at the same time.
The California Vehicle Code as it applies to bicycles, CVC 21202 in particular, says that a bicycle operator is required to move in the same direction as traffic as close as is practicable to the right hand edge of the roadway ‘except under any of the following situations’, one of which is a ‘substandard width lane’. A substandard width lane is described as ‘a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel side by side within the lane’. The right hand south bound lane on Union Road between Louise Avenue and Center Street certainly meets that description. And after the Three Feet for Safety Act went into effect on September 16, 2014, requiring all vehicle drivers to stay at least 3 feet away from bicyclists, that portion of Union Road became even more substandard than it had been before, if that’s possible.
With as many distracted drivers as there are now, many texting when they should be paying attention to the road in front of them, common sense tells me, and I’m sure that Sgt. Beall and any other police officer in town would agree, that no kid or adult can operate a bicycle safely under the conditions as they exist on Union Road, no matter what the municipal code says. I think that the city has a responsibility to re-evaluate that section of road, as well as all other main thoroughfares in town in light of the Three Feet for Safety Act, to make sure the city is in compliance by making all roads as safe as possible for bicyclists, whether they’re 8 years old, 12 years old, or 80 years old. Now would be an opportune time considering all of the repaving that’s going on.
In the mean time, my common sense tells me that if I have to choose between a citation or a funeral, I’ll take the ticket any day of the week.