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FCBC Newsletter

September 2021

Bicyclists and Pedestrians

Bicyclists and pedestrians are seemingly natural allies--wanting safe mobility in a primarily auto-centric transportation network.  However, there are times they are adversaries, particularly in crowded urban settings.  Some of the civic battles have been related to allocating space for wider sidewalks versus bicycle facilities, prioritizing the funding of projects, and prohibiting bicycles from sidewalks where allowed.  The design of Class IV separated bikeways (cycle tracks) can make pedestrian travel more difficult at transit stops and rideshare loading zones, as the bikeway may need to be crossed to get to the sidewalk.  Some pedestrian advocacy groups have objected to “Idaho stop” laws over pedestrian safety concerns.  Bicycles parked on sidewalks can also be obstacles to pedestrians.  It takes a balanced approach to meet the needs of all roadway users and common courtesy for those users to get around safely.

Both bicyclists and pedestrians are considered vulnerable roadway users, with pedestrians even more so as a bicycle could do significant damage in a conflict with a pedestrian.  Here are a few things that bicyclists should realize when sharing space with pedestrians:

  1. Pedestrians should always be treated as having the right-of-way over a bicyclist, even when a pedestrian may be blatantly breaking the law.  For instance, it is not legal for joggers to use bike lanes if there is an adjacent sidewalk.  However, the bicyclist should give that jogger space and proceed without provoking an incident.
  2. Local ordinances regulate whether bicyclists may use a sidewalk or crosswalk.  For instance, in the City of Fresno, bicyclists may ride on sidewalks outside of business districts.  However, bicyclists must walk bikes in crosswalks.  In the City of Clovis, bicyclists are prohibited from riding bikes on sidewalks, but they are permitted to ride in crosswalks.  Even if it may be legal to ride your bicycle on a sidewalk, that does not mean it is safe to do so, as drivers typically do not expect bicyclists to be on sidewalks.  Also, most sidewalks in the Fresno-Clovis area are too narrow for bicyclists to safely ride around a pedestrian.  To prevent conflicts between bicyclists and pedestrians, bicyclists must always yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.
  3. On trails or sidewalks, bicyclists should always announce that they are approaching pedestrians by using a bell or calling out “on your left.”  This will prevent startling the pedestrian.
  4. Where sidewalks are not provided along a roadway, pedestrians should walk facing traffic.  This allows them to see approaching traffic.  This is opposite for bicyclists, who must travel in the same direction as vehicles.  The reason for the difference is that bicyclists travel much faster than pedestrians and are therefore more likely to collide with vehicles leaving driveways and side roads, as drivers typically do not look right when entering the roadway.  Pedestrians, on the other hand, can quickly stop or step aside when approached by a vehicle.
  5. Above all else, bicyclists should slow down when near pedestrians.  This reduces the potential for conflict.

Next month, we will close out the series of articles relating to sharing the road with a final discussion on bicyclists sharing the road amongst themselves.

FCBC Bike Café

The next bike café will be on Tuesday, September 14 at 7:00 pm to discuss biking with kids as they return to school in person.  We’ll discuss the basics of bicycling safety with infants and small children, the skills and equipment, and how to ride with the family.  Come share your experiences with the group.  If you are interested in reading more on this topic, we recommend Family Biking:  The Parent’s Guide to Safe Cycling by Robert Hurst (2015).  To join a bike café, go here to register, and you will immediately get an email with the Zoom link.

Future bike café topics include the following:

  • Bike mechanics - October 12
  • Bike law (what to do in a collision; basic rules of the road) - November 9
  • Bike bridges - January 11

We also want to hear from you for additional topics.  Send your suggestions to events@fresnobike.org.

California Classic Weekend

The organizers of the California Classic Weekend bicycle ride and running events have announced that the ride on October 2 will be the tenth and final time the freeway ride will be held.  No reason was provided, but it is a costly event to put on with the traffic control and support from law enforcement.  There are three bicycle courses of varying lengths at 35 miles, 60 miles, and 100 miles, with the 60-mile ride considered by many to be the sweet spot.  The 100-mile ride involves some climbing, while the shorter rides are on largely level terrain.  The ride starts at Chukchansi Park, enters the 168 freeway at McKinley Avenue, and leaves the highway at Shepherd Avenue in Clovis onto county roads.  This is the only bicycle ride that regularly occurs on a closed freeway in California.  Several FCBC members typically ride it every year.

Upcoming Book on Bicycling in Fresno

FCBC Vice Chair Juan Flores is a retired professor and accomplished author, and he is writing a book about bicycling in Fresno.  Every month, we will publish a chapter or an excerpt of a chapter with the remainder posted on the FCBC website.  For the initial installment, the entirely of the first chapter is below for your reading enjoyment.  Juan is welcoming feedback, corrections, or additions at juan@fresnobike.org.

Defensive Biking

I have been a lifelong bicyclist, and some of my best memories have been riding with my children, but it took a long time for my kids to develop the skill and confidence to ride a bike.  There were many bruises along the way, but it was well worth it.  Over these years of riding with my children, I learned many things that have helped me be a better riding instructor for my children, helped them become more proficient bicyclists, and helped make our family bicycling more enjoyable.  I appreciate the opportunity to share my lessons, insights, and discoveries with other parents who want to support their children to become lifelong bicyclists.

The following are some guidelines that I would like to offer to safely bicycle with your family in Fresno.  If they are too obvious, I apologize.  But if they are helpful to you, then I have fulfilled my duty.

Don’t go over the same routes on bicycle that you would normally drive through in your car.  The bicycle gives you much more flexibility and choices for routes.  Take advantage of this flexibility!  You have a lot more at your disposal when you choose different bicycle routes, including unknown streets, tree lined, bike paths, and sidewalks, when necessary.

When you are on the streets, you must follow the rules of the road as would any driver of a vehicle.  You must also ride on the right side of the road in the same direction as traffic.  You know that you shouldn’t travel against a red light, but having the green light does not assure your safety.  You must bicycle defensively and look out for the red-light runners before you cross the street on your bike.

In most cities, it’s against the law to ride your bike on the sidewalk, but there may be times when you are going to be safer on the sidewalk.  Use your judgement.

Bike paths are heaven-sent compared to riding on the street, but the reality is that you will often be sharing these bike paths with joggers, walkers, and people walking their dogs.  You will also be sharing the path with other bicyclists who will be traveling faster or slower than you.  If you are the slower bicyclist, you may be faced with an impatient rider who will want to pass you even if there is another rider coming from the opposite direction.  This is when you need to ride defensively and keep a look out for possible collisions or problems.

Whether or not you ride at night, it is advisable to always have headlights and flashing red taillights on your bike.  You may not have intended to be riding at night, but a long ride can keep you out a little longer than you expected, or you might find yourself riding during the winter and suddenly discover that darkness has overtaken your ride.  It is always good practice to make yourself as visible as possible and to use your taillights and headlights, even in daylight.  The reality is that, despite your efforts to make yourself as visible as possible, in daylight or nighttime, distracted drivers and other bicyclists may still not see you, so always ride defensively.

When we take all due precautions, bicycling can be a great way to discover the richness that Fresno has to offer.  So much of this beauty is simply not visible from the seat of your car.  Leave the comfort of your car and explore our secret treasures; you won’t be disappointed!

I had gathered together within these pages some exciting bike rides through Fresno.  Most of these I have taken myself, and others I have gathered from the experiences of my friends.  We are fortunate to have the San Joaquin River in our backyard, although most people in Fresno have had limited exposure to all that it has to offer.  Fresno also has some communities and neighborhoods that are rich in history as well as culture.  I have included these rides in the book because they are relatively accessible by bicycle and offer rewarding bike trips.  I have also included community groups and organizations that regularly schedule bike rides and events.  They can enrich your bicycling experience.

There are many other reasons why you should take advantage of bicycling.  Ed Smith, who has been a longtime bike commuter, pointed out to me that sometimes commuter bicycling can be faster and more accessible than driving a car, considering the parking challenges, the traffic, and all of the stop lights.  The other reason is our effort to contribute to cleaning our environment and breathing healthier air.  Fresno’s air quality is regularly rated at “harmful for sensitive individuals,” and bicycling is one way of doing our part to contribute to cleaning our air.

I hope that my observations will rekindle your interest in exploring what Fresno has to offer from the seat of your bicycle.

Sustainable Communities Strategies Outreach Workshops at Fresno COG

The Fresno Council of Governments is hosting workshops at several locations to go over the Sustainable Communities Strategies as part of the Regional Transportation Plan that is currently being updated.  The Fresno County Transportation Authority will also provide an update on the proposed extension of Measure C transportation gas tax.  The workshops include the following locations:

  • Clovis City Council Chambers - September 8 at 5:30 pm
  • Virtual meeting via Zoom - September 15 at 5:30 pm
  • Betty Rodriguez Library in Fresno at Cedar and Shields Avenues - September 20 at 5:30 pm  

Legislative Update

The legislative session for the California Legislature is coming to a close, with bills being passed by the State Assembly and Senate and being sent to the Governor for signature.

Assembly Bill 122, which brings the “Idaho stop” to California and allows bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs.  As currently proposed, the California Highway Patrol would provide a report with safety data to the Legislature by January 2027, and the provisions of the bill would sunset on January 1, 2028.  The bill has passed both houses, and is being enrolled for final proofreading before being sent to the Governor.  

Assembly Bill 117 would establish incentives for electric bicycles.  The bill remains in the Senate Transportation Committee to undergo amendments.  The State budget for the current year includes $10 million for e-bike incentives.  AB 117 would provide sustained funding, with a greater focus on equity than the current funding.

Assembly Bill 43 modifies the method that speed limits are set and gives more guidance as to when speed limits can be reduced an additional 5 mph from the 5 mph increment below the 85th percentile speed.  The bill remains in the Senate Transportation Committee.

Next Board Meeting

The next Board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 16 at 7:30 pm via Zoom.  Everyone is welcome to join the virtual meeting.  If you would like to participate, please send an email to info@fresnobike.org, and the login information and call-in number will be sent to you.


If you are not yet a member of FCBC or need to renew, please visit https://fresnobike.org/join to become a member or renew your membership.

Have a comment or suggestion?  Contact us at info@fresnobike.org

Fresno County Bicycle Coalition

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