Safety and Education Committee Report

Doing Our Part

Riding a bicycle entails a certain amount of risk but anything can be safely done if the risks are properly accommodated.

Bicycles are vehicles and their operators have the same rights and responsibilities of any other user of our roadways. As a vulnerable user our safety is dependent upon the other users respecting these rights. Our laws are not absolutes but rather serve as guidelines for expected behavior. It is impossible for bicyclists to always obey the law but it is their responsibility to be seen and act predictable at all times. When “ninjas” [dark clothing, no flashing lights] complain about their near misses I tell them about the motorists that thank me for my high visibility while obeying the law.

Our laws are always changing with many states are following Idaho's example by not requiring bicycles to “stop for ghosts”. Once a bicycle has stopped at an intersection most people expect the solitary bicyclist to proceed when safe to do so. When other vehicles are present the bicyclist is expected to wait his turn. In most cases all users just want to get where they're going with the least amount of inconvenience.

Most problems are the result of a failure to respect the rights of others and “Road Warriors” expect others to accommodate them when they ignore the law. Most people do their best to treat others with respect but cannot accommodate someone they do not know is there. Hi-Viz clothing and flashing lights increase visibility and if you want respect it is your duty to be seen. Colliding with a highly visible and law abiding bicyclist is difficult to explain and the distracted/impaired operators give these vehicles wide berth. Boldly announcing your presence no longer makes you a target but rather lets others know that you're doing your part to make things safer.

The perception of bicycling's risk is not supported by the facts [law abiding cyclists are 20x safer than the average motorist] and the vast majority of bicyclists involved in crashes were breaking the law. Colliding with other bicyclists was my biggest fear when bicycle commuting to work. Contra-flow [leading cause of crashes], unlit at night [leading cause of death], and impairment [most crashes] are responsible for most bicycle fatalities. These scofflaws create a hostile environment for all cyclists and to avoid draconian enforcement of all laws we need to address these specific problems individually.

Increasing bicycle usage will make our roads safer but not everybody should be allowed to do so. We should be leading by good example and educating the ignorant. I stop and let a “wrong way” cyclists pass but when I see them more than once it's “mentioned” to the police. The unlicensed vehicles operated by impaired operators need to be impounded and repeat offenders need their vehicles to be confiscated.

The 3 C's [Crashes, Collisions, and Complaints] determine enforcement of bicycle infractions. Complaining is required to reduce the other two.

Are you doing your part to make us safe?

Bill Fisk
Safety and Education

REMINDER: BE SEEN!

Make sure to wear at least one item of reflective outerwear apparel, such as a reflective vest, jacket, or helmet strip, during the period from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise.

Safety and Education Coordinator


Biking 101