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September 5, 2013

RONN MOTT: Bicycle Traffic

I should have written about this earlier in the year. It takes most of the summer to realize that bicycle riders and pedestrian traffic put safety to the extreme test.

Case in point … on a two-lane highway, bicycle riders coming at you on your side of the road. These are often people who are not good bicycle riders and they’re on this two-wheeled contraption going to the store to get a quart of milk, riding down the street to a friend’s house, or perhaps going to work. The rule is bicycles must ride with the traffic. That gives the automobile driver at least the knowledge of what direction you are going. And gives the car, or larger vehicle driver, an opportunity to go around you, slow down, swerve and miss you trying not to cause an accident.

The opposite is true when the cyclist is coming at you on your side of the road. It doesn’t give the driver of a car much of a chance to miss you if you swerve, fall or have some other problem. Cars and bicycles do not mix very well. But the rules of the road are there for everyone’s safety concerns.

I find it rather ironic that the kids do better at this than the adults. The kids are also better bike riders than the adults, who have been coming at me, on my side of the road all summer long.

Another hang-up for me is the pedestrian. It is just the opposite of bicycling. You are supposed to walk facing the oncoming traffic. And you’re supposed to wear something that can be readily seen in times of bad visibility. Almost no one does this. Again, this should give the oncoming driver more time to make a safe decision and not injure himself or the pedestrian.

I’m reminded of that famous quote: “Oh what fools we mortals be.”

Summer is a perfect time, mostly, for walking and bicycle riding. In some parts of our city, and in many places in the country, lanes for bicycle riders are marked and they are done so for your safety. Please use them. This has only been a frustration for me in these warm weather months, but could become tragic with snow, ice and bad visibility winter months will bring. Remember, if you will please, a fender bender in a car hurting the car with that much damage could be lethal to the bicycle rider. I would not expect the automobile driver to be the safest example of wheeled safety in America.

Ride, or walk, in safety.

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.

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