Monday Medical: Share the road safely
June 21, 2010
Tips on how to share the road safely
■ Always wear a helmet.
■ Ride alert. Avoid using headphones or talking on a cell phone.
■ Be visible. Wear bright colors during the day and white or reflective clothing at night. Headlights and a rear reflector are required.
■ Ride no more than two abreast and move to single file when traffic approaches
■ Respect and be considerate of other road, path and trail users. Courtesy is contagious.
■ Reduce your speed when encountering a bicyclist.
■ Give 3 feet between your car and a bicyclist.
■ You can cross the solid centerline to pass a cyclist. However, if it is not safe to do so, slow down and wait for a safe time to pass.
■ Scan for bicyclists before making turns and make sure the road is clear before proceeding.
Steamboat Springs — When you commuted to work today, were you on two wheels or four?
Today marks the beginning of Colorado Bike to Work Week, and Wednesday is Bike to Work Day. In fact, the entire month of June is designated by the state of Colorado as Bike to Work Month.
Commuting to work, to shop and to meet up with friends can be safe and fun if we learn how to safely share our roads and paths.
Our roadways have changed in the past few decades. Janet Hruby, Steamboat Springs city engineer, said it is now more important than ever to learn how to share the road.
"Historically, bicycles, cars, tractors and RVs had more space on the road, and now, all uses are increasing," Hruby said. "The way we use the road affects other people, and we all need to be safety-conscious."
Hruby sits on the Routt County Multi-Modal Road Use Advisory Board and the board of directors for Routt County Riders, our community's local bicycle club.
Currently, with the city, she has been working on adding preferred bicycle routes and paths to the free map published by Ski Town Productions. The maps are available on brochure racks across town.
The county's advisory board also wants to help promote safe bicycling for visitors to our area. In addition to the new "Share the Road" signs and stickers seen across the county, the group will develop and distribute posters and flyers with bicycle safety information to area bike shops.
What about you? How well do you know the rules? Test yourself:
■ Question 1: Does a bicycle need to follow the same rules as a motor vehicle?
Answer: Yes. Under state law, bicycles are considered vehicles. Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists and should obey all traffic laws, signs and signals.
Use hand signals to indicate turns, lane changes and stops. Stop at lights and stop signs.
Follow lane markings. Never go straight from a turning lane, never turn left from the right lane and never ride between lanes. Use a headlight, taillight and reflectors when riding at night.
■ Question 2: When on a street, where should a cyclist ride?
A. Facing oncoming traffic
B. With the flow of traffic
C. As far right as possible
D. Both B and C
Answer: D. Ride with the flow of traffic and as far right as is safe and reasonable. You may move toward the center of the lane when passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or avoiding hazards or obstacles. Before moving out into the roadway for any reason, always look behind you, signal and yield to traffic.
■ Question 3: Are bicycles permitted on sidewalks?
C. Maybe, it depends on the sidewalk
Answer: C. You can ride on any sidewalk except for sidewalks in the downtown core of Steamboat Springs, from Third to 13th streets and from Oak to Yampa streets. You can ride on the sidewalk when crossing the Fifth Street bridge and the 13th Street bridge.
It also is recommended that cyclists avoid riding on Lincoln Avenue downtown. Whenever possible, use the designated bike lanes on Oak Street, the Yampa River Core Trail or Yampa Street.
■ Question 4: Who has the right-of-way on sidewalks and multi-use paths?
Answer: B. Pedestrians have the right of way. Just as bicycles must follow the rules of the road on streets, they also must follow the rules on multi-use paths and yield to pedestrians.
The Yampa River Core Trail can be a busy place. Cyclists need to ride with awareness of other path users. Use audible signals when approaching pedestrians, such as a bike bell. Ride on the right and pass on the left.
The sidewalk on the east side of U.S. Highway 40 between Old Fish Creek Falls Road and Pine Grove Road is open to cyclists and pedestrians. There is also a wide shoulder on the road in both directions. It is advisable to avoid riding on sidewalks if bike lanes or routes are available. However, some bicyclists, families for example, may prefer a sidewalk to a road.
Remember, if you're on a road, follow the rules of the road. If you're on a sidewalk, follow the rules of the sidewalk.
It also is helpful to keep in mind that there are different types of bicyclists: commuters, road cyclists and families, to name a few. Be respectful of all road and path users and apply the old adage, "share and share alike."
Riley Polumbus is communications specialist at Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at email@example.com.