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Thursday, March 05, 2009

It's time to Share the Road

We're going to get a sneak peak of spring here in the metro-east in the next few days. That, along with the switch to Daylight Saving Time on Sunday morning, means there should be more cyclists out on the road.

I'm passing along some tips from the League of Illinois Bicyclists, with commentary from me in italics:
For those who want to ride their bicycles on the road, it’s good to be reminded of the rules of the road. Bicyclists are legal vehicles on the road and have all the rights and responsibilities of motorists. They should observe traffic signs and traffic laws, signal turns, ride with the traffic and ride in a straight line, except when making turns. Bicyclists fare best when they act and are treated like motorists. That’s because road safety for everyone depends on all vehicles, cars and bikes, behaving predictably, obeying traffic laws and sharing the road.

Typical traffic no-no’s for bicyclists are: riding against the traffic instead of with the traffic, failure to observe red lights and stop signs, blocking traffic on a busy road by not riding in a single file with other cyclists, failure to use hand signals when turning or slowing, no headlights, taillights or reflectors for night riding and riding with earphones.

As a cyclist and motorist here in Belleville, I see way too many instances of people riding against traffic. The main offenders here are children and people who ride bikes because of DUI convictions or other unfortunate circumstances. Parents, police and educators need to teach children the rules of the road when in comes to cycling. People convicted of DUI should be given a copy of the state's "Safe Bicycling in Illinois" booklet.

I plead guilty to occasionally rolling through a stop sign, but I always stop at intersections where there's a strong likelihood there will be traffic. As a whole, the cycling community needs to do a much better job of paying attention to stop signs and traffic signals.

Riding two abreast is legal in Illinois as long as the reasonable and normal movement of traffic is not impeded. Otherwise, you must ride single file. Riding more than two abreast is illegal on most Illinois roads. Cyclists on group rides sometimes lose sight of the law and create problems for themselves and motorists.

Remember that one bicyclist’s bad behavior on the road affects the public’s opinion of all bicyclists. Amen to that.

Typical motorists’ mistakes are: failure to pass bicyclists safely by giving them at least three feet of space, passing a bicyclist then making an immediate right turn in front of the bicyclist, failure to yield when making a left turn in front of an oncoming bicyclist, opening a car door into a bicyclist’s path, failure to scan for bicyclists at intersections and crosswalks, parking in bike lanes and speeding.

True, motorists often don't pay attention to cyclists, and they need more education about the rights of bicyclists to be on the road.
Let's hope cyclists and motorists alike have safe travels during the 2009 cycling season.

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