Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Be safe on the road

    A fellow road cyclist was hit by a motor vehicle this past Saturday just north of Baker Creek on Highway 75. It’s always terrifying to hear the sound of an ambulance speeding to the scene followed by a Blaine County Sheriff’s Office car.
    I’ve ridden on this road about 35 times this past season and count my lucky stars that I’ve returned home safe and sound. When a fellow rider goes down, it gives me pause to determine how we can cooperate with one another to keep our roads safe for all concerned. My advice to all riders:
l Stay focused. It’s easy to get distracted and lose focus when the elements start to take over; heat, dehydration, road conditions including frost heaves, ruts, holes, rocks, glass, and even swirling winds. The situation can go from good to bad in a second.
l Don’t lose concentration. Assume nothing. Don’t trust that the vehicle in front of you will stop or make the turn. Be proactive rather than reactive. These vehicles are bigger than our bikes. It makes no sense trying to out-maneuver a 5,000-pound vehicle with steel reinforcement when cyclists are riding on a 17-pound bike with no protection. Yield to motor vehicles when necessary.
    My suggestions to drivers on the road:
l Pay attention. There’s so much beauty and sites to see as you cruise through the Wood River Valley, including your fellow cyclist. Be aware that on weekends there are more cyclists on the road, and that means slow down, don’t text or use your cell phone (there’s no service past the SNRA) and no need for your GPS (state Highway 75 is a long road). Our beautiful lakes, campgrounds and mountains will be there if you arrive five minutes later than expected.
l Give us room. Idaho law suggests giving cyclists a three-foot margin between a vehicle and a bike. For cyclists, there is a limited amount of room off the shoulder to ride, sometimes five feet but more often less than three feet and sometimes none. When vehicles pass a cyclist, we can actually feel an RV, camper or trailer passing and that can cause serious problems.
    Cyclists and motorists need to cooperate with one another and understand that the “Share The Road” sign applies to everyone. Next time you’re on the road, think about the safety of others. Let’s all practice safe cycling.
Warren Benjamin

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