Teenage drivers are stupid, it’s a proven fact. But that said, teenage bikers may have proven themselves just as stupid. But the only difference is that one party sits inside a monstrous killing machine, while the other is armed only with a plastic shield on their heads.
Many Paly students have enjoyed the delightful privilege of biking to school at one point or another in their school careers. That same amount of students have likely experienced an adverse encounter with a car, frequently in the three blocks surrounding Paly. And more often than not, the aforementioned encounters have involved a student driver, based off of my very own experience..
The three block radius around Paly has always been a hotbed for bike vs. car conflict in the morning. As older students race over the speed limit and make daring turns en route to school, bicyclists cross the very same intersections on their two wheels with the audacity of 100 Obamas.
Already this year, two bike vs. car accidents have occurred near Paly involving student bicyclists. And guys, that is not okay. First, it’s not okay for us to drive around and putting ourselves and those around us at risk. Second, it is also not okay to bicycle around ignoring traffic rules.
According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, “riders on public roads have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists, and are subject to the same rules and regulations.” There are over 100 fatal bike vs. car crashes in California every year, with hundreds of thousands more resulting in serious injuries, according to the DMV.
For bicyclists, this means stopping at the stop sign on Churchill instead of assuming the cars will let you go. This also means staying in your lane, which is aptly named “the bike lane”, so you do not obstruct the cars’ ability to turn while operating your bicycle.
But while bicyclists assume the same traffic responsibilities, this still doesn’t mean that the two operations of transportation are equal entities. Cars are physical killing machines, and teenagers ages 16-19 have the greatest accident rates among every other demographic, per the DMV.
Not wearing a helmet as a minor violates state law. But, failing to protect yourself around so many accident-prone drivers is more than just illegal, it’s plain stupid. As aggravating as getting ticketed by the PAPD is (and yes, I have been ticketed), they only mean to protect students biking to school by enforcing the helmet law.
But drivers are not off the hook. The DMV says to drivers, “Respect the right-of-way of bicyclists because they are entitled to share the road with you.”
So to all the drivers out there, lets follow our rules so the bikers will follow theirs. We don’t want any of those fatal accidents, or an injury, to occur near our school community.
No matter which side of the stop sign you’re on, slow down a minute and stay safe.