This article was in today’s Bakersfield Californian newspaper.
In my opinion it is only safe to ride a bicycle if you are a defensive rider. If you are watching where you are going, looking both left and right, never crossing the street unless you have the green light (or in some cases walk signal). Never riding on the wrong side of the road then crossing while a car is turning left (which happened to me).
This one time I was leaving the bike path and I was crossing the street and this pickup truck was pulling out in front of me while he was looking right at me. He nearly ran me over. This was about 10am in the morning too so it’s not like he was drinking and driving… that I know of at least.
I have a little mirror that is attached to my helmet and I’m constantly looking at it to see the traffic behind me so I know what is coming at me.
Now I cannot say that it is 100% safe to ride as early as I do because even at 4:30am there are probably still some drunk drivers out there but usually when I ride that early there are maybe 1 or 2 cars every 10 minutes so it’s pretty safe where and when I ride.
You also have to consider the fact that I’m not riding in the busy streets along with traffic. I start out in a neighborhood and I’m pretty much only in neighborhoods until I get to the bike path so there is not that much danger of getting hit. And I know a route that gets me to the mall and to Target where it’s through neighborhoods and I never have to drive with traffic.
So is Bakersfield a safe place to ride a bicycle? I think it is during the morning or during the daytime IF you aren’t driving in traffic where there are no bike paths or where cars are parked right in the bike path. If you try to ride through neighborhoods then you are safe. But if you drive alongside cars then there is never a guarantee that you are ever safe. Even if you are crossing the street you aren’t ever safe because there are always reports of people getting killed while crossing the street. Is it safe for me to ride here? Yes, because I am a defensive rider and I pick the best safest routes.
If you live in a city that you aren’t sure where the safest routes are, why not just go to your favorite map website, I go to google maps and I map out my route then I adjust the route so I am going through neighborhoods then I print it out and hold it while riding through that neighborhood so I learn it so the next time I have to go that way I will remember. And if I don’t remember then I print it out again (if I threw the old map out that is).