Thousand Oaks wants to improve safety for bicyclists

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Source of this article – Thousand Oaks Acorn, October 5, 2006

In response to the death of Traffic and Transportation Commissioner Glenn Garvin, who was killed while riding his bicycle on Westlake Boulevard on Sept. 16, the City Council voted to research ways to improve bicycle safety in Thousand Oaks.

The council asked city staff to review what other cities have done to improve their communities’ bicycle safety and to collect information from local bicycle store owners, bicycle groups and others interested in bicycle safety and present their findings to the Traffic and Transportation Advisory Commission for review.

“We’d like to develop a safer atmosphere, a safer climate for bicyclists, joggers and pedestrians,” said Councilmember Tom Glancy.

Charles Bankston, 71, president of the Old Kranks Bicycle Club sponsored by the Goebel Senior Center, rides about 100 miles a week on Thousand Oaks roads, he said.

“I think the streets of Thousand Oaks are about as safe as anywhere I’ve ever been – anywhere else I’ve ever been in the world,” said Bankston, who’s been riding bicycles for about 45 years.

He did point out a few problems he’s seen as he pedals around, such as how Thousand Oaks seems to have a lot of older drivers who don’t drive as safely as they should because of physi- cal impairments, he said.

“Some can’t see over the wheel or they can’t react properly. Hearing is another problem,” Bankston said.

Drivers distracted by cellphones are another source of concern for the public’s safety, he said. Many times Bankston’s seen SUV (drivers) backing out of parking spaces without even looking as they are dialing their cellphones, he said.

If the council wants to focus on physical improvements to the road, Bankston would like to see more traffic lights with optic sen- sors that respond to bicyclists since most lights in the city need the weight of a car to make them change, he said.

In regard to adding buttons on bike lanes, Bankston said, he was riding with another bicyclist who hit one such button, crashed and broke his shoulder. Rumble strip grooves cut into the roads, as long as the roads are regularly cleaned by street sweepers, would be safer, he said.

However, Bankston said, bi- cycle safety efforts should mainly focus on behavior, and not just on the behavior of those driving cars, he said.

“There are bicyclists in this city I see riding to work, which is good, but they’re wearing baseball caps instead of helmets,” Bankston said.

“If they can’t afford helmets, I’d like to see the Chamber or some business in town provide them with free helmets,” he said.



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