Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

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June 26, 2014

Rules of the Road: bicycle safety on roadways

GLASGOW — Billy Ray has been an avid cyclist for the past six years, but wishes Glasgow were a more bicycle-friendly town.

Ray said the most common problem he encounters when riding on roadways where motorists are present is not being seen by vehicle drivers, and being yelled at. Other issues include the sensors for the traffic signals not recognizing cyclists because they are so light.

“They will holler at you and say, ‘Get on the sidewalk where you belong,’” Ray said. “But actually in Kentucky, and most other states, if you are over 12 years of age, you can’t ride a bicycle on the sidewalk.”

Ray, along with some other cyclists, started up a group, Bicycles of the Barrens, who meet daily and weekly to ride together. Every morning a few of them get together for a ride, and every Wednesday at 6 p.m. they meet on the square to ride around Glasgow.

The ride on Wednesdays began last year as a sort of beginner course, Ray said. They wanted to educate those new to riding on roadways, and show them how to bike safely when vehicles are present.

On Tuesday, Ray spoke about other safety issues concerning bike riders. If a rider stays tucked to the right at all times, as they are supposed to, intersections become more dangerous because people are pulled up to turn one way or the other. Generally, their eyes are trained to look in the center of the lane, so if there’s a cyclist over on the edge, they can be missed, he said.

“Cyclists have kind of adapted some safety self-defense mechanisms,” he said. “One of them is called ‘taking the lane.’ At an intersection to make sure we are seen, we’ll move from the far right into the middle of the lane.”

Ray said the most common car vs. cycling incidents he has read about or seen are generally called ‘the right hook.’ This is a situation in which a person is riding on the road on the far right-hand side, and a vehicle passes the cyclist, but then turns right immediately. The cyclist hits the car, or vice versa, because the vehicle has turned right into the cyclist.

Ray was hit this way a few years ago on East Cherry Street. It was a classic left hook where he was signaling to make a left turn and a driver in a pickup truck said they interpreted Ray’s signal as him motioning the vehicle to pass. So as Ray proceeded to make a left turn, the vehicle passed to the left and caught him with a side view mirror.

“There’s a lot of consternation because motorists can’t understand why we are in the middle of the road sometimes,” Ray said about the ‘taking the road’ technique used. “We don’t stay in the middle of the road, it’s just that you have to move over there sometimes to try to preserve your safety and successfully co-mingle with cars.”

At the cyclist group Wednesday, Eddie Bruner, of Glasgow, referenced KRS 189.287. He said that it states bicycles are allowed to ride on any highway but not interstates.

601 KAR 14:020 states under section 9 about operation of bicycles that”a bicycle shall be operated in the same manner as a motor vehicle except the following traffic conditions shall apply: a bicycle may be operated on a shoulder of a highway; if a highway lane is marked for the exclusion of use of bicycles, the operator of a bicycle shall use the lane whenever feasible; not more than two bicycles shall be operated abreast in a single highway lane.

Bike riders are supposed to travel with the flow of traffic, and runners are supposed to run against the flow of traffic.

According to Glasgow Police Department Public Affairs Officer Julie Anne Williams, bicyclists are to adhere to all of the same roadway laws as motor vehicles.

Williams said there aren’t as many cyclist accidents that she is aware of, as there are motorcycle vs. vehicle accidents.

“Cyclists are typically at a higher risk because people don’t see them,” she said. “They have the same rights, and vehicle drivers need to be cautious because they aren’t following at the same speed.”

Cyclists have the same rights and same courtesies as vehicles, but drivers should always be extra aware because they aren’t often given the same attention, Williams said.

Mayor Rhonda Trautman said she does get some complaints about bicycle and runner safety on roadways, but not that often.

She referenced the Glasgow Alternative Transportation Endeavor, which was written up in 2011-13, and adopted as the county’s comprehensive plan in 2013.

According to the plan, GATE is intended to make greenspace more accessible and provide alternative transportation opportunities to the citizens of Glasgow.

“This is a benefit because when projects are going on, especially state projects that are typically larger in scale, this plan can be referenced,” Trautman said. “It’s part of this comprehensive plan to be considered in future planning processes.”

Trautman mentioned an example of Ky. 1297, which is supposed to be widened in the future. She said those working on the highway could reference GATE and add bike lanes where applicable.

With just a little cooperation, everybody can get along and gain benefits from biking, Ray said.

“There are health benefits, there are fewer cars on the road. It can really be a win-win, but it takes a little bit of understanding,” he said. “You’re not going to win by honking your horn and saying get on the sidewalk. I don’t belong on the sidewalk, that’s not safe. And you can pass us anytime you want, but you need to give us three feet. That’s the general rule in most states, to give three feet to the side when passing.”


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