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Friday, October 10, 2008

SIUC hashes out bicycle safety

Bicycling safety's a concern at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and the surrounding community, and a group is trying to address the issue.

Carbondale Conversations for Community Action coordinator Sarah Heyer hosted an hour-and-a-half long dialogue between local cyclists and police on Thursday at the SIUC campus. The goals is to make Carbondale streets safe for cyclists, motorists and pedestrians, according to the Daily Egyptian, SIUC's student newspaper.

Three cyclists have been involved in motor vehicle accidents on the SIUC campus since January, An accident between a motor vehicle and cyclist also led to the death of an SIUC student in September 2001.

Most of the 30 participants agreed that using courtesy and common sense would go a long way to solve many of the safety concerns -- a position I've always held.

One of the participants said bike lanes in the Carbondale area often are unsafe for cyclists.Tire-flattening debris often settles in bike lanes, making them a hazard to cyclists, said Sandy Semrow, a member of the SIUC Triathlon Club who commutes from Murphysboro to Carbondale on her bicycle daily.

Several of the cyclists said they choose to ride in the road to encourage motorists to show them the same respect as another motor vehicle instead of crowding them into a hazardous bike lane.

SIUC Police Lt. Harold Tucker told the panel he distinguishes serious cyclists from casual, and oftentimes careless, ones by whether they wear helmets. Those who don't wear helmets are less likely to follow the rules of the road, he said.

"They're kind of compromising all the rules," Tucker said. "Basically they're saying, 'I just disregard all of that and I make up my own.'"

Generally, the tips in a graphic that accompany the story are sound, but not completely accurate. For example, a new Illinois law that went in effect Jan. 1 allows cyclists to extend their right hands outward to signal a right turn as well as raising the left hand.

The graphic also says 3 feet is a safe distance for passing a cyclist. That's true, but it's also the law in Illinois. That law also went into effect Jan. 1.

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Roger 1 comments links to this post 11:13 AM

Cyclists are one of the biggest hazzards to other motorists and to themselves when they ride in the road. Motorists have to get out of their lane and into the other lane to avoid hitting them. When possible they should use the bike lanes.
Having said that I still understand that they have every right to use the road. I just believe they make it more dangerous for everyone out there.
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