OPINION: The lack of bike lanes in Santa Clara is putting bikers at risk


Jizelle Mercado

The lack of bike lanes and safety measures for commuters increases the risks of injury.

It is a sunny September afternoon and a student hops on their bike to start their journey home. Without a designated bike lane in place, the student has no choice but to ride close to the sidewalk near the parked cars on the right as moving vehicles whiz by on the left. This situation is far too common for a student biker in the Santa Clara area, which houses many schools, from elementary to university.

Some SCHS students have been using their bikes to commute to and from school all year, and the verdict is clear: no matter which way someone travels, the risks bikers take could be reduced. One main problem is the lack of a bike lane on the way out of school on Benton Street, which forces students to ride on the sidewalk or very close to moving cars before crossing Benton and Kiely Boulevard, an area especially busy after the last period of the day. Riding near this area is dangerous because the point of separating cars from bikers and pedestrians is practically negated by the lack of space. It is downright dangerous. 

Stop signs are commonplace in the world, as well as signs denoting what is ahead on the road for drivers, but there is an evident lack of signs for bikers, exemplifying the holes in the system. Resources need to be devoted to help keep bikers and pedestrians safe.

According to the New York Times, the ratio of deaths per million between bikers and pedestrians is 2.9 per million for bikers and 2 per million for pedestrians. Though this number seems low, it should be none at all. Some may think that it is the pedestrian’s or biker’s fault as they should have been more careful. However, everyone is responsible, including drivers, lawmakers and city planners. 

Some bikers though do need to be more careful. Many SCHS students, for example, are on their phones while biking and are not wearing helmets, which is objectively dangerous to them and others. A simple reminder may be the only necessary solution, so SCHS could put up signs near the bike racks cautioning students to stay attentive and off their phones and to wear a helmet.

Additionally, the city and schools should survey the biking population, asking them which streets need more space between bike lanes and car lanes, or which still need bike lanes. Learning about the opinions and needs of the numerous bikers is paramount and something that should help ensure some level of improvement.

The bikers of SCHS and the county deserve better, and it is clear: the shortage of bike lanes and extra safety measures in all parts of the road need to be ameliorated for the safety of bikers, pedestrians, student drivers and the commuting generation ahead.