Steve Cook is back with his column Santa Barbara by Bicycle
Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated to ride when the weather is turning and it’s a bit cold out. This morning I woke up early and decided to ride to Carpinteria and back for a workout. As I headed down the hill to cross the Westside towards the beach, there was a chill in the air, and the clouds were dropping a few sprinkles on me. I suppose the nice thing about living on a hill is that you think twice about cutting the ride short and going back. It’s much easier to just keep those pedals turning and head down to the flatlands.
Upon reaching the harbor the sunrise was stunning so I pulled over to take a quick photo. If you look closely (click on the photo), you can even see the pelicans rising over the sandbar, and someone in the foreground sharing the same view.
Onward towards the Bird Refuge, then up over Channel Drive, out the bike path and past the Biltmore, through South Jameson, across the freeway, on North Jameson continuing on to the Ortega Ridge bike path. That path is so nice as it cuts the hill climb down to nothing compared to having to climb the winding road up the ridge as in years past. In fact, I no longer feel guilty taking this easy shortcut!
Continuing through Summerland to Via Real, and into Carpinteria, crossing the bridge at Santa Ynez Avenue, then heading East on Carp Ave. It always amazes me how nice Carp is to ride in — people give me plenty of clearance when passing, and don’t rush to cut me off with dangerous “right hook” turns like they sometimes do in Santa Barbara. As I passed the post office my odometer hit 15 miles and I decided to take the next right on Concha Loma, then headed back over the Eighth Street bridge (walking over the bridge, of course). This is a great little pedestrian bridge that was rebuilt a few years back right over the unique Carpinteria creek. The creek leads to the marsh on the beach — if you ever have a chance, head on down Linden Avenue to the State Beach Park and stroll along the beach for some great sights and ocean views.
Getting back on my bike, I continued on Eighth Street until Linden, then turned right on Linden, and left onto Carp Ave to take the same route back to Santa Barbara. The nice thing about this ride is that it’s generally flat. The hills are not sharp and are easy to climb, and the downhills allow a bit of speed to make up the time lost climbing them.
The one thing I’d like to talk about in depth is a particular challenge riding westbound on Cabrillo Boulevard by the Bird Refuge. I ride on the road as the multi-use path is encumbered with walkers, runners, strollers, pavement cracks and debris which is not too amenable for riding at speed. So, I ride on the street, legally, in the traffic lane.
However, when I get to the S-curve I need to keep an eye in my mirror for trucks approaching behind me. I cannot depend on the 3-foot to pass law alone when it comes to my safety. I’ve had two close calls in the last couple of months on this curve with trucks passing me “in the lane” instead of changing lanes to pass. This morning it was a Marborg truck with a large roll-off bin mounted on the back. This truck takes all 12-14′ of the lane width — there is no room for any other vehicle, in this case a bike, to occupy the same lane. This is a four-lane road and there is plenty of opportunity to change lanes to pass, but if I’m too far to the right trucks and other wide vehicles can make the wrong judgement call and pass in the lane. In September, a Berry Man company truck missed my head with its mirror by inches during a same-lane pass. This can prove to be fatal, as it was for Matthew O’neill up in Foxen Canyon a few months back. Lane positioning is an essential tool for a bicyclist to guide other vehicles and help them make safe passing decisions.
When I see a truck approaching from the rear, I “take the lane”, centering myself in the right-most lane, thus causing the truck to make the proper (and legal) decision to change lanes to pass, or to slow down and wait for a safe time to pass. I used this technique last week when I noticed a truck and horse trailer approaching from the rear as I was riding Highway 150 east of Carpinteria. This persuaded the driver to slow down, and pass when there was no hill blocking their visibility or oncoming traffic. The driver slowed and waited. They did not honk or express any anger — they understood my safety was paramount. When they passed me I waved in thanks to them and they waved back to me. In each case it may have cost the other driver 1-5 seconds at most to wait for the safe and proper time to pass. This is not too much to ask of others on the road to keep traffic accidents at a minimum. Here, you’ll find some good details on the 3-foot to pass law; some of the laws that pertain to bike riding in California; and lastly, some good tips for courteous cycling.
All-in-all it was a great ride and I’m glad I didn’t turn around just because it was 50 degrees outside and threatening rain. Had I done so I’d have missed a sweet sunrise, a 31 mile workout, and a pleasant walk over the Eighth Street bridge.
If you’re interested in riding and want to know how to get started, consider taking a class from a League Certified Instructor at the Bicycle Coalition. If your business or organization would like to have classes taught onsite, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more about Getting Around Santa Barbara by Bicycle in my blog: sbupclose.com or follow me on Twitter: SantaBarbaraUpClose
I’ll be looking for you on the road. If you see me on my ElliptiGO bike, say Hi!