Archive for Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cycling safety

Bicyclists and drivers need to redouble their efforts to safely share the road.

August 15, 2007

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The start of school is a natural time to ask motorists to be extra vigilant of pedestrians and bicyclists with whom they are sharing the road.

Young cyclists may not always pay as much attention as they should, and no driver wants to be involved in an accident that could seriously injure a youngster.

Unfortunately, in too many cases, some adult bicyclists in our community aren't setting a particularly good example for younger riders. Although they complain about cars and trucks not sharing the road, too many bicyclists aren't willing to do their part by adhering to standard traffic rules. They slide through stop signs and red traffic lights and don't properly yield the right of way at intersections and traffic circles. It's not fair to expect to be treated as equal traffic partners if you aren't willing to abide by traffic laws.

On the brighter side, it's gratifying to see so many bicyclists, both young and old, wearing helmets. A recent bicycle accident on a trail near Lake Shawnee in Topeka is a reminder of the importance of protective headgear. No motor vehicles were involved, but a bicyclist was killed when she collided head-on with another bicyclist on the trail. Law enforcement officials speculated that she hit her head on the paved trail when she was thrown from her bike. The other rider was hospitalized with serious injuries. Neither was wearing a helmet.

It seems likely that helmets might have made a critical difference in this instance and there are plenty of cases in which authorities believe they were the difference between life and death. They are an important bicycle accessory even when, as was the case in Topeka, bicycles aren't sharing the road with larger vehicles.

Cycling is a source of recreation and transportation for many Lawrence residents, and bicycle safety is a shared responsibility for motorists and cyclists. It's a year-round job, but the start of school is a good time to redouble our efforts to drive and ride with caution.

Comments

Richard Heckler 7 years, 8 months ago

Cyclist: How about wearing cheerful colorful attire while riding so drivers will notice that you are around. We should not have to do this but darker colors do seem to blend with most surroundings. Maybe purchase a bright colored vest like the city/county workers wear or a tie dyed vest of your choice. Or simple colorful attire such as yellow,red and orange T Shirts. For cooler weather bright colored down vests.

Lighting up at night is also helpful and safer for those on bike dates,commuters and young people. Flashers on front and rear in addition to headlights could be helpful as I have done after too many cars pulled out not realizing a cyclist on 9th street who obviously had the right of way.

Mike Curtis 7 years, 8 months ago

How about staying off busy roads unless you can maintain a safe minimum speed. Remmember... no matter what the law, or the experts say, the bottom line is, speed DIFFERENTAL is what kills people! It doesn't matter what your operating. Iv'e not seen to many 55mph bicycles, but I wouldn't mind sharing the road with them!

imagold 7 years, 8 months ago

Imagine having to share the road with cars and trucks that continually run red lights and stop signs, rarely use turn signals, ride on sidewalks, stop traffic with pedestrian crosswalk lights, ride the wrong way down streets, squeeze in on your right at intersections, and whip across in front of you to make a turn. Well that's what bicyclists do all too frequently and frankly, my dear, I'm tired of it and I'm tired of hearing "share the road". It seems bicyclists want it all: automobile and pedestrian rights. I'll gladly give room to someone who follows the driving and riding laws, but those of you that blatently ignore those laws...why should I be held responsible for your safety if you won't obey the rules of the road?

tir 7 years, 8 months ago

I'd appreciate it if cyclists who choose to ride on the sidewalks along busy streets would show some courtesy to people who are walking. Please slow down a bit and warn them instead of blasting past them at 15-20 MPH. The noise of the traffic in the street often makes it impossible for pedestrians to hear approaching cyclists who race up behind them, and if the pedestrian is startled and moves in the wrong direction when trying to get out of your way, both could get hurt.

average 7 years, 8 months ago

I've been on roads with at least some cars who do run red lights and stop signs. That doesn't mean all drivers do. There are cyclists (myself) who don't run reds or pull-up on the right of stopped traffic. I stay single file (okay, sometimes I am passed or need to pass). I use lights at night. But, I have exactly no magical ability to stop other cyclists from doing anything. Cyclists are individuals, just like drivers.

I do ride on a few "sidewalks" (say, along Clinton Parkway). Just like for cars, that is the only route through to get to places I need to go. I think you'd rather have me on that path than on the roadway.

Evan Ridenour 7 years, 8 months ago

"I tried the sidewalk, only to have numerous near-wreck experiences with cars pulling out beyond where the sidewalk crossed and where the "stop" line was before stopping or cars turning off of the road I was following:have also had this happen numerous times while running and biking in Lawrence."

Every day that I run in Lawrence this happens to me at least twice. I will be running through an intersection that I have right of way on and idiots will either blow thru it completely without slowing down or approach the intersection really fast and slam on their breaks so they stop slightly out into the road way (completely blocking off the intersection). In both cases they usually come within 5 feet of maiming or killing me and usually I get honked at, cursed, or given obscene gestures. My response is usually just to point up to the stop sign that they just ignored and to run on.... :)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 8 months ago

"I do ride on a few "sidewalks" (say, along Clinton Parkway). Just like for cars, that is the only route through to get to places I need to go. I think you'd rather have me on that path than on the roadway."

I believe that bicycles are prohibited from Clinton Parkway-- you have to use the trails alongside.

greengoblin 7 years, 8 months ago

Soon, when people finally realize that their precious 55 MPH vehicles are ruining the environment and causing even more disasterous weather (there were two tornadoes in ARIZONA this month), we will see more people appreciating cyclists. As for me, well, I pay taxes too and I will ride my bike on any public street I want.

wordsofwisdom 7 years, 8 months ago

Greengoblin

Your rights as a taxpayer won't help you if you are hit by a automobile. Just because you have a right to ride on any public street you want, doesn't mean it is safe to do so. Too often bikers are focused on thier own skill and thier right to be in the street. They should focus on the fact that not all drivers are able to navigate around them, especially when they ride down the center of a lane and cars are backed-up behind them. That is not excerising a right--that is dangerous, and shows no regard to the traffic.

Soup2Nuts 7 years, 8 months ago

DonQui, it is legal in Kansas to ride two across but not three across on roads. I do agree with you that although legal it is the courteous thing to do to ride single file and not let traffic back up. I've still been yelled at even when riding on the far right side of the road just because a driver had to move a couple feet to pass. Road bikes that are designed to be ridden at 15-25mph shouldn't be on the sidewalk with pedestrians. Riding on low-traffic roads is the better solution.

Confrontation 7 years, 8 months ago

When I visited Germany several years ago, their bicyclists would ring a bell to warn you that they were coming down the sidewalk. You either moved or took one for the team. I am glad that I didn't take one for the team.

Baille 7 years, 8 months ago

"I believe that bicycles are prohibited from Clinton Parkway- you have to use the trails alongside."

Nope.

Soup2Nuts 7 years, 8 months ago

Bike paths are a great option for the casual rider, mountain bikes, joggers, etc. but they have a 15mph speed limit. This isn't going to attract the KU racers or faster road bike riders that routinely ride over 15mph. In addition to bike paths another option is bike lanes on roads. Johnson County has quite a few but Douglas Co is lacking in that area.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 8 months ago

Are you sure about that, Baille? I remember a few years ago the city was ticketing cyclists for riding on the street.

Baille 7 years, 8 months ago

Unless there is a municipal code, I am sure.

Kansas state law allows bicycles to be ridden on sidewalks OR in the street - unless a path has been set aside for the EXCLUSIVE use of bicycles. Schallenberger v. Rudd, 244 Kan. 230, 767 P.2d 841 (1989).

The Lawrence Muni Code has a provision about sidewalks, but I don't see that it necessarily implicates Clinton Parkway unless there is a sign or a business nearby:

17-702 RIDING ON SIDEWALKS.

It shall be unlawful for any person to ride a bicycle upon any sidewalk within any business district within the City or upon any sidewalk within a distance of 100 feet from any store or business place or place of assembly or where specifically prohibited by posted sign. It shall not be unlawful for police officers or other law enforcement personnel assigned to bicycle patrol units to ride upon sidewalks while in the performance of their official duties. (Ord. 5172, 17-702, Ord. 7557)

17-702.1 The governing body of the City of Lawrence, Kansas, hereby finds that the use of coasters, roller skates, skateboards, roller blades and other similar devices (hereafter device) is a public nuisance on the sidewalks and public parking lots in the downtown area as set forth in Section 17-702.2 (A). The governing body finds that the use of such devices on the public sidewalks in the downtown area creates a hazard to the physical safety of the general public due to: the limited setbacks between the sidewalks and the downtown structures fronting the public sidewalks; the inherent hazard of such devices in close proximity to pedestrians in the limited space of the public sidewalks in the downtown area; and the density of pedestrian uses on the public sidewalks in the downtown area.

Emily Hadley 7 years, 8 months ago

Anonymous user imagold (Anonymous) says:

Imagine having to share the road with cars and trucks that continually run red lights and stop signs, rarely use turn signals, ride on sidewalks, stop traffic with pedestrian crosswalk lights, ride the wrong way down streets, squeeze in on your right at intersections, and whip across in front of you to make a turn.

-

We law-abiding cyclists do not have to imagine that, of course--we do it every day!

(Most cars and trucks thankfully don't fit on our sidewalks, though the majority of them DO roll into and block pedestrian crosswalks, which is no better for pedestrians hoping to use their right of way to continue walking down the sidewalk on the next block.)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 8 months ago

I do remember very distinctly several years back that the LPD was actively forcing bikes off of the road along Clinton Parkway. That may no longer be the case.

pissedoff 7 years, 8 months ago

greengoblin when you ignorant byclicists begin paying road taxes for your mode of transportation then you will have every right to complain but until then quit complaining about those of us that do pay taxes for our legally operated vehicles

yankeelady 7 years, 8 months ago

And please remember to STOP when you cross the road near the Clinton Lake dam. There are stop signs on both sides of that nice new trail. A southbound car has limited visibility to the west. I almost had a heart attack (not to mention a hood ornament) when some idiot came flying across there. At 35 mph I still need a little room to stop. But thank you for waving at me--even if it was only with one finger.

Baille 7 years, 8 months ago

"I do remember very distinctly several years back that the LPD was actively forcing bikes off of the road along Clinton Parkway."

Just cause a police officer does it, doesn't make it right. I had an LPD officer pull me over once because I "almost" ran a red light. That ended up to be a fun conversation.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 8 months ago

This was more than a single officer. I remember it as being more or less common knowledge among cyclists that you'd get pulled over by the cops if you were on the roadway. Of course, that affected mostly the racers and faster riders, who don't want to dodge pedestrians and curb cuts on some of those downhills where you could easily reach the 45 mph speed limit. Whether that was the law, city, state or otherwise, I can't say with certainly, but I believe that was the case.

JayhawkAlum03 7 years, 8 months ago

I live in a busy area of Kansas City, but since my gym and grocery store are 3/4 of a mile away, I often bike rather than drive. On the return trip, there's a fair sized downhill that has approximately 10 driveways, 5 parking lots, and 2 cross-roads on the side of the one-way street that the sidewalk is on for a 1/4 mile stretch. I tried the sidewalk, only to have numerous near-wreck experiences with cars pulling out beyond where the sidewalk crossed and where the "stop" line was before stopping or cars turning off of the road I was following...have also had this happen numerous times while running and biking in Lawrence. I now ride only on the street on that particular stretch because I am convinced that I am safer riding with traffic than on the sidewalk when coming down that hill at 20-25 mph. Yes, I am going 10 miles/hour less than the cars, but I follow the rules of the road...stop at both stoplights and signal when I'm turning at the bottom so there is never any doubt by drivers as to where I'll be. No problems yet taking the street route.

To the best of my knowledge, the only place in Lawrence where cyclists are NOT allowed on the sidewalk is downtown. But, just like my example, that doesn't mean that the sidewalk is the best and safest option for all involved.

JayhawkAlum03 7 years, 8 months ago

I think a lot of drivers (me often included!) forget or don't think to look for pedestrians and cyclists. In countries where cycling and walking is a more common form of transportation, there seem to be fewer accidents just from greater awareness and more familiarity with the situation.

There is research that suggests that sidewalk riding is more dangerous than using the road. I wouldn't apply this to all streets and situations, but I think there is some merit. I can't find the original research, but here is what I did find in my 2 minute search: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/bike/KidsandBikeSafetyWeb/index.htm

evanrulesks 7 years, 8 months ago

It is true that a few cyclists may indeed act inappriately, but cyclists as a whole should not be labeled negatively because of a few irresponsible individuals who dont care about the laws, safety and the consideration of others around them. Just as there are irresponsible cyclists, there are also irresponsible motorists. So, should we label all motorists irresponsible? Of course not. There are irresponsible motorists and cyclists....they are irresponsible individuals, whether or not they are on a bicycle or a driving a vehicle.

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