Ask a Cop: Is it safe to bike in Alhambra?
The Alhambra Source asks your questions to the Alhambra Police Department's Sergeant Brandon Black. Got a question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
As a resident who also happens to own a bicycle shop in a neighboring city I have found is extremely dangerous to ride on many Alhambra streets, but it is ILLEGAL to ride a bicycle on any sidewalk in the city of Alhambra. I wanted to know how common accidents are involving cyclists. Are they increasing? And what should someone do to stay safe biking? Is this an issue that Alhambra Police Department is concerned about?
The question about the dangers of cycling in Alhambra is one that I find very important. As an experienced cyclist, as well as a one of the members of the Department’s Bike Patrol Team, it is my experience that cycling is extremely dangerous in Alhambra, but it also extremely dangerous in every other jurisdiction. With millions of vehicles on the roads of California coupled with all of the distractions that are available to motorists, it is inherently dangerous when bicycles and automobiles are operated in the same vicinity. Most cyclists recognize this and generally take the precautions necessary to minimize the risks of cycling. There is a similar inherent danger that exists when riding motorcycles and when walking across a street which is not unique to Alhambra, but is dangerous everywhere. In my opinion, motorists simply do not see bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians as readily as they do other automobiles. Automobile operators need to be more aware of and pay better attention to their surroundings, with special attention to bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists.
Collisions between automobiles and bicyclists are not common, but they do occur. Collisions between automobiles and pedestrians are much more common, which is the primary reason that our Traffic Section conducts so many pedestrian decoy operations. One reason that automobile and pedestrian collisions are more frequent than bicycle and automobile collisions is that pedestrians tend to be less aware of their surroundings that cyclists. We have all seen people walking across the street engrossed in conversation with someone or talking on a cell phone or otherwise distracted. This is not something that is common amongst cyclists, which is one reason why for the relatively low frequency of automobile and cyclist collisions.
Another point to be made is that riding bicycles on sidewalks poses a greater risk to pedestrians and does not eliminate the risk for cyclists. Most every municipality that I’m aware of has a local ordinance prohibiting riding a bicycle on a sidewalk just as Alhambra does. The California Vehicle Code states: “Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle . . . except those provisions which by their very nature can have not application.” I interpret this to include not driving (or riding) on a public sidewalk.
The bottom line is that whenever and wherever you ride a bicycle, it is important to be vigilant about paying attention to your surroundings to minimize the inherent risks of cycling in today’s fast-paced society.