Years ago, when I was only 12, I got my first bicycle. It was a Christmas day. I had spent the entire month of December praying really HARD for snow, but it never came. (Unanswered prays, and it was Christmas! That was a good lesson for a growing up Catholic kid.) My birthday was on December 21, and it passed by like all others who are born too close to Christmas, with the morning “Happy Birthday,” then it was life as usual. That Christmas day, my four siblings all got great gifts, and I got a few small ones, like pencils, socks, mittens.

Yup, this was turning out to be the worst Christmas ever. I was guessing by now that that’s what happens when you hit double digits, and you’ve got three younger siblings… Christmas was now all about them now.

Then, as the Christmas tree skirt lay empty of all gifts, and we were all about to move into putting our gifts away and moving toward our Christmas meal, my mother said, “Oh, wait, we’ve got one more gift,” which she handed me. It was a small 2-by-6 inch gift, wrapped in a brown paper bag. As I opened it, I couldn’t imagine what it was. When I reached my hand into the bag, I felt something metal and pulled it out. I was a red and white (at the time, that was everyone’s color) bicycle license. My eyes opened as wide as any kid’s eyes could possibly open, my heart flipped into my throat and I ended up jumping up and down uncontrollably for at least five minutes. A Christmas in Maine with no snow! Let me out the door and “Syanara, Baby.” I got in two good weeks, before the snow finally fell for that winter…

Back then, to have a bike, you had to have a license and a rules and regulations of the road book, to which I say, “Please bring that back.”

I spent the rest of the winter reading my rules and regulations of the road, and that made the rest of my bicycle riding, to this very day, much more safe for not only me, but also the cars on the road. I’m no saint in life, but I do follow the rules of the road, because my dad also owned an ambulance service. I was there for years when calls would come in. Nothing like there are today, given the nature of bike riding becoming so competitive; but accidents have always happened, since we first learned to walk.

Six bicycle accidents from May 17, 2012 to June 29, 2012 in Sonoma County

Bicyclist injured in Alexander Valley hit-run accident, Alexander Valley, Route 128, June 29, 2012, By JEREMY HAY

From Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Authorities were searching Friday for a motorist suspected in a hit-and-run crash on Pine Flat Road near Highway 128 in Alexander Valley that left a bicyclist gravely injured.

Few details about the bicyclist, including his name, were immediately available. He was airlifted to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital at 1:35 p.m., unconscious with major head injuries, the CHP said.

It was the latest in a series of vehicle-versus-bicyclist incidents that have left three dead in a month.

Bicyclist seriously injured by hit-and-driver, Petaluma Hill Road, Friday, June 08, 2012

From ABC News: A Sonoma County man was seriously injured Friday morning while riding his bike, after a pick-up truck hit him then took off. The victim, Steven Allen Norwick, is a retired Sonoma State University professor and an experienced cyclist.

UPDATE: On June 19, retired SSU professor Steve Norwick, 68, died.

Other Sonoma County recent accidents: Santa Rosa Press Democrat, June 30, 2012, By JEREMY HAY & MARTIN ESPINOZA

On June 21, Brian Laurie, 68, of Sonoma, was killed when he rode into the path of a big rig on Eighth Street East.

On May 31, David Lemuel Standley, 34, of Cotati died after his bike crashed head-on into an SUV in the dark on River Road near Forestville.

On May 24, August Bissiri, 85, of Laguna Woods Village in Orange County was struck and killed by a car while riding his bicycle on Highway 1 near Bodega Bay.

In Napa Valley, Alfredo Hernandez Pedroza, 56, of Napa, was killed May 17 while riding his bicycle on Silverado Trail outside Yountville.

This is something I write about each year. At the risk of being really redundant, it always seems to circle back as a real issue in wine country, because bicyclists come here in droves, with each year seeing more and more people on bikes in all neighborhoods, now.

In wine country, we live with two factors

  1. Road rage drivers
  2. Entitled bicyclists

The other side of this coin is the following:

  1. Drivers who are patient
  2. Bicyclists who respect the rights of drivers, too

I’m not writing about the latter group, because they’re the positives on the side of this coin.

I’m going to take on the other two sets of people.

To Road Rage Drivers

Get yourselves into an anger management class. Life’s too short to hold such negativity for the health of your body, if for no other reason. You’re setting yourself up for diseases like hypertension, heart attacks, and strokes. Are the people, who you’re allowing to make you so angry, worth it? Remember, we give our power away, and every time you get ticked off at anyone in your way on the road… You’ve just shortened your life… and maybe even the other person’s. Take responsibility and get yourself into a class to learn how to manage your emotions.

UPDATE: Santa Rosa Press Democrat ~ August 17, 2012 ~ Santa Rosa cyclist recounts painful encounter with road rage

To Entitled Bicyclists

Get yourself a grip on how to also share the road. Being on a bicycle does not give you the right to disobey the laws, forcing drivers into having to take responsibility for your angry behavior with all drivers. Some of you hate us all… and it’s easy to tell who you are… Being in the wrong does not make you in the right lane. Review your rules of the road.

Thoughts from site:

Each year in California, more than 100 people are killed and hundreds of thousands more are injured in bicycle collisions. Some bicycle related crashes are connected to the bicyclist’s behavior, while others are due to the motorist’s lack of attention.

Bicycle riders on public roads have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists, and are subject to the same rules and regulations. Refer to the California Driver. Motorists must look carefully for bicyclists before turning left or right, merging into bicycle lanes, and opening doors next to moving traffic. Respect the right-of-way of bicyclists because they are entitled to share the road with you.


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