View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


Collision leads to discussion of driver-cyclist protocol

Road-sharing and safety considered two-way streets

Posted: July 7, 2009 8:18 p.m.
Updated: July 8, 2009 4:30 a.m.
When it comes to bicycling on the streets of the Santa Clarita Valley, sharing is the name of the game.

In the wake of a collision on Sierra Highway that left a Saugus man in the hospital with major spinal injuries Friday, cycling enthusiasts said bikers and motorists need to share the asphalt.

“We still have very nasty cases of road rage,” said Maria Gutzeit, a Santa Clarita resident and avid bike rider. “Drivers need to remember that we have a right to the road, (and) cyclists need to follow the rules of the road as much as they can.”

Gutzeit said the Santa Clarita Valley is a middle ground of sorts when it comes to motorists’ perceptions of cyclists.

At one end of the extreme are people who are very accepting of sharing the road with cyclists, she said. On the flip side, she said, are those “who believe cyclists should stay on the sidewalk or stay home.”

On Friday morning, 26-year-old Kevin Mather was with a group of men cycling along Sierra Highway north of Santa Clarita when he was struck by a passing truck and thrown from his bike.

Mather remains in the hospital with major spinal injuries, unable to move his legs.

“I have traveled that same route many, many times,” said John Lukes, 83, of Canyon Country. “As far as bicyclists are concerned, you don’t have a chance (when hit from behind).”

An avid cyclist since 1969 — who said he rode 20 miles on Tuesday — Lukes teaches bicycle safety courses to both adults and children.

Too many motorists simply don’t pay attention to the fact that cyclists may be on the road, he said.

Regarding road etiquette, Lukes said one thing not to do is drive close to cyclists and blow a vehicle’s horn.

“That sometimes scares the heck out of you,” he said, and added motorists should give bike riders as much space as possible.
Santa Clarita spokeswoman Gail Ortiz agreed.

“(People) do need to be aware of each other. All it takes is a second (for a collision to happen),” she said. “Bicyclists do have a right to share the road.”

In addition to its paseos and trails, the city has about 30 miles of on-road bike lanes. Mather’s crash happened on a rural stretch of Sierra Highway in unincorporated Los Angeles County.

Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Maag said cyclists always take a risk when getting on the road, but said motorists need to pay close attention to who they’re sharing the asphalt with.

Bicycle-related injuries are a common sight at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, emergency room director Vivian Rebel said. Those injuries range from road rash to “something totally severe,” she said.

Rebel stressed that cyclists need to be aware of their surroundings, particularly when riding on busy streets.

“You have to be paranoid,” said Roger Hasper, owner of Newhall Bicycle Co. “You have to think everyone wants to hit you.”


Most Popular Articles

There are no articles at this time.
Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.


Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...