Full disclosure: I’m an avid bicyclist, and I’ve ridden just about every road around Malibu as a result. 

Driving down the other side of Kanan on Saturday at 10:50 a.m., we encountered a line of traffic, impeded by a group of more than 20 bicyclists. These were middle-aged and older riders, and the most inconsiderate group I’ve ever come across. The initial groups riding two abreast were at tunnels two and three, where there is no shoulder. These riders made no effort to get to the right or give way. I would have thought this an anomaly, but for the next group I encountered riding two and three abreast going down the hill, also rode in the road. At the bottom of the hill they were riding four abreast, completely blocking the road and all traffic, until pulling off the road. 

Regardless of the laws, all bicyclists I know recognize that we share the road with imposing and dangerous vehicles that will get the better of us if we, or they, make a mistake, and that challenging them is folly. The rules I’ve seen practiced are simple, and consists of: 

1. Ride in a single file at all times that you can. 

2. Ride as far to the right as is safe, and if possible, ride and stay on the shoulder or to the right of the lane line. 

3. When there is no shoulder or lane line, stay as far to the right as is possible and safe. 

4. When you must pass, pass as quickly as you can, telling the passed, “On your left.” 

5. Obey all traffic signals, stops and traffic signs. 

6. Leave time and room for opening doors from vehicles alongside. 

7. Never challenge a motor vehicle; you will inevitably lose. 

Using these rules is safe, considerate and it helps make a good name for bicyclists. Not following these rules ruins it for the rest of us, and is inconsiderate and dangerous behavior. By the way, it is illegal for bicyclists to impede traffic and illegal to not ride as close to the right of the roadway as possible. 

Geoff Ortiz 

(9) comments


@stevewoodzy: Bicyclists who take up the whole lane typically do not get hit. You may not believe that but it is reality whether you believe it or not. The world is round and the earth revolves around the sun whether you believe it or not.

It is possible to ride safely on PCH whether you believe it is or not. Your ignorance is not a valid substitute for education and experience.

Steve Woods

@billdsd ,, In the perfect world everyone obeys the law ,acts courteous, drives attentive and sensibly . I drive PCH everyday and I see the veering constantly . Locals know where the areas that require more attention , where the road narrows , where bikers need to dodge a storm drain , a row of parked cars or where a shoulder suddenly ends but add to the mix , the throngs awestruck tourist who are viewing the ocean for the first time while looking for a parking space, making illegal U turns across double double yellow lines and you have a dangerous situation . No excuses here, just observations in the field of reality . PCH on a weekend is a bikers Russian Roulette of risk . Good Luck and have a safe ride !


@stevewoodzy: I have never seen a car that HAD to dangerously veer into the left lane or oncoming traffic. You NEVER have to drive unsafely. If you have slow traffic in front of you and you cannot move over safely to pass it then you slow down and wait until you can safely move over to pass. This is not rocket science. It's basic driving skills and the fact that you don't understand that means that you are an atrociously incompetent driver.

Bicyclists have a right to use the road. Competent drivers realize this and don't act like their basic human rights are being violated if they have to move over or slow down. Grow up and quit making excuses to not obey the law or drive responsibly and safely around others.


Stay to the right to avoid being hit by cars and far enough away from parked cars to avoid being doored--enough said. But there's a more important point for PCH/Malibu. The stretch w/b from Sunset to Getty and then again just east of Big Rock has NO shoulder (due to slide remediation) and someone WILL die there when a distracted driver is fiddling with something in his car and hits the cyclist. This really must be addressed. The bike path in SM is wonderful, but linking up to it from Malibu and then getting back is a life and death proposition. It shouldn't be.

Steve Woods

Legal Schmegal ,, Lawmakers in Sacramento often make laws that don't always make good sense if applied to all areas of California . Every place has its own particular variables, local concerns and should be addressed by local municipals for the greater good . PCH in Malibu is one of those problematic places where common sense should take precedence over a minority group wrapping oneself up in the letter of the law .


1. There is no law in California requiring bicyclist to ride single file. The reason that motorists want bicyclists to ride single file is so that they can pass bicyclists within the same lane, even though that is very often dangerous. They don't care about the safety of bicyclists. Convenience always trumps safety in the eyes of people who have a problem with bicyclists on the road.

2. California has no law requiring bicyclists to ride on shoulders. CVC 21200(a) says that bicyclists have just as much right to use the roadway as motorists do. The shoulder is not legally considered part of the roadway, though it is part of the highway.

Riding far right is often very unsafe, especially on narrow mountain mountain roads because it tends to result in a lot of dangerously close passing and it makes it harder to see bicyclists. It's often safer to use the full lane. This is taught by every significant qualified bicycle safety organization, book and teacher including the League of American Bicyclists, Cycling Savvy, Effective Cycling, Cyclecraft and Bicycling Street Smarts.

3. CVC 21202(a) says as far right as practicable which is very different than is as far right as is possible. You are only required to ride as far right as is safe and as I said above, that often means using the full lane.

4/5, OK.

6. Most safety experts recommend maintaining a minimum of 5 feet from parked cars to avoid doors, including the strike zone and the startle zone, which can both lead to a collision or fall.

7. What do you mean by "challenge"?

Seriously. Please stop giving advice about bicycle safety given that you have never studied the subject and know little about it.

Todd N

Certainly, there is a lot of room for group riders to exercise more courtesy toward other road users. Reports indicate that group riding is characteristically narcissistic and often gives road cyclists a bad reputation.

However, the second and third rules which the author shares reflect his lack of regard for the equal status for road use which cyclists should be able to enjoy for their own safety if these groups weren't out exercising their narcissism. The law, where it applies, is "as far to the right as is PRACTICABLE (not "possible") and safe." If he really knew his "stuff" as an "avid" cyclist, he would know that what is possible and what is safe is seldom the same thing when exercising Defensive Bicycle Driving. Not riding as far to the right as "possible" is not illegal. http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21202.htm

If you think that "sharing the road" (confused by many as "sharing the lane", almost always unsafe for cyclists) means you have to sacrifice safety to ride as far to the right as is possible, you are marginalizing yourself as a cyclist and not doing anyone, not even motorists, any favors. You are inviting close passes or irrelevance and the possibility of being side-swiped, right-hooked, left-crossed or doored, which will ruin the motorist's day as well.

There are too many "avid" cyclists out there making up their own "Top Ten" or seven or whatever. For some solid traffic cycling concepts, check out CyclingSavvy.org. http://cyclingsavvy.org/hows-my-driving/


Full disclosure. We too have no anti bike agenda. Unfortunately what you wrote is 100% truth. We experience this same rude behavior on Kanan and north bound PCH at Kanan. Instead of the bikers lining up in single file to proceed north they take over the right hand turn lane intened for going up Kanan blocking all the cars from making their turn. Why is this acceptable for bikes? Why is it allowed for bikes? Why are there two sets of Rules of the Road? If a car pulled into the right turn lane and stayed there until the light turned green and then proceed to go straight instead of turning an expensive ticket would be involved. We use to support share the road but we are finding bicyclists have crossed more than just the yellow line in the road. Typical example of crossing the line into entitlement and losing your supporters.

Steve Woods

Geoff's 1st rule should be law . How many times have we seen cars in the slow lane that had to dangerously veer into the left lane because a slower -than- traffic -biker in the slow lane thought that talking about office gossip to his riding partner on the right side of the fog lane was his narcissistic right over the safety of everyone else . With a Single File Rule ,a sudden car door opening or an unexpected rock or crack on the road may only force one rider into faster traffic versus possible serious injuries to 2, 3 or more . All the other rules that Geoff lays out are smart and sensible and should be observed to save lives .
Inevitably , bikers will be upset and angry by this sensibility coming from the rest of us who commute inside our metal monsters on PCH.
The laws of Physics kick ass on the Laws of the California Vehicle Code .

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