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When The Road Is Not Shared






By MCBC Executive Director

Jim Elias

Bicyclists are vulnerable when riding near cars on public roads. It’s why safety continues to be Marin County Bicycle Coalition’s (MCBC) highest priority, and why we devote so much effort to public education and infrastructure improvements.

Recently, there’s been a sharp increase in reports of motorists targeting cyclists, particularly in West Marin.

Incidents involve drivers steering directly toward people on bikes, then swerving away at the last moment; a specific truck racing past, skidding to a halting stop, then spinning its wheels to kick gravel onto cyclists; a small handful of motorcycle riders “buzzing” bicyclists; plus drivers even forcing cyclists off the roadway.

The July paintball attack on a bicyclist on Highway 1 is another frightening example. In that case, suspects were quickly apprehended, thanks to collaboration between the cyclist, law enforcement officials, and a concerned motorcyclist who happened to capture the event on his helmet cam and shared the video with the California Highway Patrol.

Any reasonable person would agree these attacks are foolhardy. Threatening someone with a motor vehicle could easily lead to tragedy. Furthermore, evidence suggests these are the actions of only a few serial perpetrators.

MCBC is taking steps to end this completely unacceptable threat to public safety, and you can help.

If you are on a bicycle and find yourself threatened by someone behind the wheel of a car or truck, or on a motorcycle, stop at the first possible safe moment and call 911. Report as many details as possible, including description of the individuals involved, vehicle make and model, color, and license plate numbers. Even if you only witness and are not party to the event, please take those same steps, on behalf of public safety.


To enable possible arrest and prosecution, you must file a report, in person, with the California Highway Patrol – 53 San Clemente Drive, Corte Madera, 415-924-1100 – providing the same information. Photos and video records of the event are ideal, as the paintball attack arrest demonstrated. The CHP and Marin County Sheriff are both cooperating with MCBC on this effort, but they need actionable evidence, including reports filed.


Help MCBC help you, by also reporting the incident on MCBC’s Road Incident Report page. We are compiling information to uncover trends, identify repeat offenders, and work with law enforcement officials to have them arrested and prosecuted.


Finally, consider what we all know to be true – words matter. Editorials, letters, and public comments all too frequently and often mistakenly point fingers at people on bicycles for clogging traffic, closing down lanes, or supposedly not paying their fair share for public roads. Instead of digging deeper for data or even simple facts, accusers sometimes shoot their claims wildly into the air to incite the same old overheated debates.


While that may feel cathartic to some, it’s certainly not constructive, and may even be dangerous. When we vilify others for everything from traffic to taxes, it becomes easier to dismiss their rights, or ignore their safety.


The majority of Marin rides a bicycle, at least occasionally. Those Marinites are fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives. And they’re our kids.


Please join MCBC in helping to make the roads safe for everyone.


Jim Elias

Executive Director

Marin County Bicycle Coalition