Archive for Tuesday, September 8, 1998

BICYCLING CAUTION

September 8, 1998

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To the editor:

I agree with Anna Thurmaier (Sept. 5) when she asks the drivers of Lawrence to please be aware of bicyclists. Sharing the road is important and the only way to have safe streets in our town. I also ask the bicyclists, as did Anna, to wear a helmet and follow the rules of the road.

However, bicyclists should remember they are in control of a moving vehicle when riding a bicycle. As such, the rider is subject to all the traffic laws to which a car driver is subject. This means that at a stop sign or red light the bicyclist should come to a complete stop and proceed only when it's legal and safe (that means stop the bicycle and put a foot on the ground to steady yourself while you're stopped). It also means that a bicyclist should not weave in and out of traffic, and that a bicyclist should not ease around a corner from a side street into the middle of a high traffic lane of a busy street at a relatively slow speed.

I see several instances every day of bicyclists taking their lives into their own hands in Lawrence. It's as if they have the feeling that since they're riding a bicycle they own the road and everything else should get off of it. In my opinion the only thing more dangerous than bicycles in Lawrence right now were the small motorcycles and scooters in Saigon and Bangkok during the early '70s.

Yet, despite the obvious lack of concern with the rest of the traffic on the road (and seeming lack of concern for their own safety -- no helmets, no lights, dark clothing at night, etc), if there's a collision with a car, caused by a bicyclist, the impression in the media is that the car is at fault regardless. Who is cited in the event of a car-bicycle accident that is obviously caused by the bicycle?

It is time for bicycle lanes in Lawrence. I support them for several reasons, some of which are above. Perhaps it is also time to ban bicycles from certain streets until the lanes are in place (Sixth, Ninth, 23rd, Massachusetts and Iowa for example). Maybe we should also start ticketing bicyclists who violate traffic laws just as car drivers are ticketed who do the same.

Ralph P. Reed

Box 905.

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