Q I am a motorcyclist and I lane-share. I do not ride big bikes. I do not ride noisy bikes. I do not whiz by slower vehicles.
I do ride bikes equipped with a headlight modulator. When I am on my bike, the top of my helmet is more than 6 feet from the ground. This is a large, visible vehicle, unlike my sports cars.
However, many of the individuals in cages, as we so affectionately call cars and trucks, are a menace to themselves and everyone else sharing the road. They are sound asleep at the wheel. They are phoning, texting, reading a paper or shaving. I could go on.
When I am lane-sharing, I have had individuals turn sharply away from me as I pass them. Not before I reached their location, but in response to something they had not seen before. Often enough they are not even in the lane I am sharing. Can you say "asleep at the wheel"?
How about drivers who see a space in an adjacent lane they can dart into so they can gain a hundredth of a second, without indicating to any other driver they are changing lanes? How about the drivers who stay in the fast lane until their exit and veer across all the lanes with no indication they are changing lanes? How about drivers who decide to "teach that biker a thing or two" by pinching them off?
Gary, we can all peacefully coexist if we drive alert, operate our vehicles using the rules of the road and use common sense.
A And we need to coexist, for there is troubling news. Motorcycle deaths jumped 19 percent in California, to 415 in 2011 from 348 in 2010. That's the first increase since 2008, when 529 motorcyclists died on state roads.
Most motorcycle crashes do not involve other vehicles, and the rise in deaths is partly blamed on more older people riding more powerful motorcycles, plus a rise in the number of motorcyclists, with some abandoning cars to beat high gas prices.
In 1982, only 9 percent of riders killed were 40 and older. By 2004, almost half of motorcycle riders killed on U.S. roads were in their 40s or older. There are now 1.2 million registered motorcycles in the state, about double 20 years ago.
Data on the number of motorcycle crashes in 2011 won't be known for a few weeks, so we don't know if this rise in deaths is a one-year bump or the start of a troubling trend.
Q How can I find out more about what happened in a traffic accident on Interstate 280 Thursday close to Winchester Boulevard between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.? I was on I-280 about that time when I swerved to miss a metal ladder. I intended to call the CHP to report seeing the ladder once I arrived at my destination, but forgot.
On my way home, I was on northbound I-280 near Winchester when I saw the aftermath of an accident, with at least two ambulances on site, and traffic backed up to Cupertino. Now I am feeling terrible that I didn't call anyone to report the ladder. I am willing to testify about the ladder if it helps any of the parties. Whom should I call to report obstructions on freeways or other roads if this should happen again?
A Call the San Jose CHP office at 408-467-5400 to report what you saw. But if something like this happens again while you're on the road, call 911. You may save a life.
Q Reading your bits about handicapped parking places reminded of this experience: I was parked in a handicapped space and had my hand on the door handle preparing to get my husband's wheelchair out of the car. Just then, a lady sped into the hash-marked area, jumped out of her car and as she ran toward the store, yelled back at me: "I'll just be gone a minute." The behavior was so outrageous that all I could do was laugh while I waited for her to return so I could get the chair out.
A Or ...
Q The next time you see an illegitimate car idling in a handicap spot, pull up right behind them and double park. If anyone inside the car gives you a dirty look, simply say: "I will just be a minute!"