It’s only a race in France

Kent Miller is an elementary-school teacher who bikes to work to save the environment and his wallet; he’s never spent $5,000 on any vehicle, including his used Volkswagen

As a Sacramento bicyclist for 40 years, I find it gratifying that more and more citizens are commuting to work on bicycles. No doubt the price of gasoline hovering above $3 a gallon is a contributing factor.

Regardless of the reason, an increasing number of people are contributing to cleaner air and decreased congestion and are embracing a healthier lifestyle. And Sacramento is the perfect venue for bicyclists. Blessed with fair weather the majority of the year, flat terrain and a scenic bike path, our city would seem the ideal spot for bicycle commuting.

However, I also find we must contend with a new nemesis. I do not refer to the broken glass and gravel along the roads. Nor do I speak of the pickup trucks, SUVs or construction trucks that rumble past, taking up what seems to be 107 percent of the lane. No, I am referring to the Lance Armstrong wannabe.

If you have ever traveled the American River Bike Trail, you’ve encountered them: the guys with the $5,000 bikes and $2,000 wardrobes zooming along the bike trail. Apparently, these fellows have never spent a dollar learning proper bicycling etiquette.

They seem to revel in the act of whizzing past you on the bike trail, dangerously close, without any warning whatsoever. Obviously, it is beneath them to utter the phrase “On your left” to the hoi polloi.

Not only is this the height of incivility, but also it jeopardizes both them and you. At the very least, having a bicyclist silently slip past you is unnerving and distracting. In a worst-case scenario, a momentary swerve by you to avoid an obstacle in the road—such as a tree branch or dashing squirrel—can send both riders for a nasty and painful spill.

And so, I beseech all you Lance Armstrong wannabes to take a moment, slack off the pedaling of your 2.4-kilogram carbon-fiber bicycle for a second, and just give a courteous, clearly spoken “On your left” to the cyclist in front of you before you pass. One or two collisions might convince you of the prudence of this practice.