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Bad, bad, bad

Today I rode the 43-mile ALC "expo ride" from San Francisco to Fairfax and back. It was my first time cycling in Marin County in quite a while, and it sure seems like attitudes there have taken a turn for the worse -- both from motorists and cyclists.

I saw lawless drivers, lawless cyclists, angry drivers, frustrated cyclists, and just about everything in between. Our slog up the 1.2-mile hill on Camino Alto was interrupted by two vehicles whose drivers sounded their horns almost nonstop all the way up the hill as they gunned their engines around cyclist after cyclist. (And one of the vehicles had a giant "W'04" sticker still on its rear. Imagine that.)

But we were no angels either. I lost count of how many stop signs I saw cyclists ignore or roll through. Even the presence of two officers in Ross (with cyclists pulled over both times I went by them) did little to deter the violations. Single-file riding was but a dream in many places. And with the noticeable increase in cyclists over the past few months -- and also because today's weather was so doggone nice -- the roads often just weren't big enough for all the cyclists and all the vehicles that wanted to be there at the same time.

And yes, many of the stop-sign violators I saw had orange tags that identified them as ALCers. I even saw one of us do a stop-and-roll through a red light.

This is bad. If this happens on the ride in June, we run the risk of losing permission to ride through one or more of the many jurisdictions between San Francisco and Los Angeles. When this happens, the least that results is that our route becomes longer and more difficult. But if there is no alternate route available -- and that's the case over much of our route -- the very existence of AIDS/LifeCycle could be at risk.

Every one of us is responsible for obeying all traffic laws every time, even when other cyclists don't. Fortunately, nearly everybody who attends my training rides already knows this and already follows the rules. But don't slip up now, this close to the ride. I'll be instructing my co-leaders to be on the lookout for violations; if they see you do something, expect them to call you on it. And if this happens, it's not because we hate you ... it's because we want to make sure that you stay safe, we want to make sure you don't get a very expensive ticket, and (most of all) we want to make sure that ALC continues.

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