Cyclists and motorists -- maybe we can get along


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By now, many Angelenos have heard about the July 4 incident between a motorist and cyclists on Mandeville Canyon Road, in which a motorist allegedly braked suddenly in front of two cyclists, resulting in serious injury to the riders, requiring a hospital visit. The episode has polarized many riders and motorists who blame each other for unsafe behavior on not only Mandeville Canyon, but urban streets in general.

As the city and various bicycle organizations try to find better and safer ways for motorists and cyclists to share city streets, some groups are already being pro-active in the effort. A video on YouTube shows how cyclists and motorists should maneuver Mandeville Canyon, based on traffic laws and what’s taught in courses from the League of American Bicyclists, a Washington, D.C.-based national bicycle advocacy and education group.


The video covers safe bicycle lane positions, when and how to use arm signals, reminds cyclists to obey stop signs, and encourages cooperative behavior between cyclists and motorists. It was shot on Mandeville Canyon showing what transpired between cyclists and motorists in real time, with nothing staged or set up.

‘The main point we’re trying to make is that there are certain standards of behavior, which promote safe passing maneuvers,’ says Daniel Gutierrez, a certified league instructor as well as policy chairman of Caltrans District 7 Bicycle Advisory Committee. ‘It’s really behavior that’s at the crux of this. If people behave well, it’s easy to get along.’

It’s not a bad idea for all motorists and cyclists to review the video (and others), even if Mandeville Canyon isn’t a part of their regular route. It’s a terrific refresher of basics such as cyclists’ hand signals and safe passing tactics, and a reminder that it’s not worth risking an accident to shave a little time off your trip.

-- Jeannine Stein