Last week I returned to SVBC recharged from a vacation in northern Spain and southern France. While riding in the Pyrenees and south toward Barcelona, I was again struck by the difference between riding in Europe and here in Silicon Valley. I've heard that Spain is the capital for serious crashes on the interstate--and they do rather drive like maniacs who aren't paying any attention on the highways. But strangely enough, they seem to pay very close attention when they are on the local roads. As a cyclist, I felt safer in the Catalan region of Spain than I've felt anywhere else in the world, including France.
It was almost unbelievable how long motorists would wait to pass me. There was no passing around blind curves. There was no aggression. I never felt like I was in the way. Almost always, they would pass me on a two lane road by moving entirely into the lane for oncoming traffic. What a joy it is to ride there. I particular recommend Girona and its surrounds, if you're lucky enough to be able to journey there.
So how can SVBC encourage this type of incredibly fabulous motorist behavior here in Silicon Valley? That's the question that returned to me again and again on my long rides. We try to reach motorists as best we can--but clearly we have a long way to go, and I feel re-energized to take on the task. Any ideas are welcome--email me or leave a comment here.
Part of the behavior difference is probably cultural--and that is a long-term shift for our auto-loving nation. But I'm guessing a portion of the motorists' consideration is through laws and regulations--for example, check out the sign in this picture, taken on "Hincapie Hill," the second climb on the famous "Els Angels" loop.