Crews have been out clearing sand and gravel Kenai Peninsula roads, and with long sunny days and warming temperatures, it’s time for drivers to remember that were sharing the road with two-wheeled vehicles, both motorized and pedal-powered.
May is Motorcycle Awareness Month, as well as Bike Month. With many peninsula residents and visitors getting out on two wheels, it is imperative that drivers be focused on driving — not the cell phone or the radio station — when behind the wheel.
In a 2014 proclamation for Motorcycle Awareness Month, Borough Mayor Mike Navarre noted that motorcyclists face a constant threat to personal safety caused, in part, by lack of alertness on the part of the driving public, and urged residents to drive safely, exercise extreme caution to reduce accidents this summer.
Last year, the month took on a somber tone after a series of fatal motorcycle accidents across the state. The Southern Peninsula chapter of A.B.A.T.E., Alaska Bikers Advocating Training and Education, reminded drivers to take a second look, use turn signals and avoid distractions while driving, such as cell phone use. A public service message from the Department of Public Safety urges motorcyclists to practice safe riding habits, including riding with the assumption that other drivers won’t see you. Likewise, drivers are urged to treat motorcyclists just as they would other vehicles, including giving adequate space when passing or following.
For unmotorized cyclists, a proclamation issued Friday by Gov. Bill Walker proclaims the month of May as Bike Month; May 6 as Bike to School Day; and May 11-15 as Bike to Work Week.
Some reminders for those who will be bicycling on peninsula roads this summer: under Alaska law, a bicycle rider on a public road generally has all the rights and duties of the operator of any other vehicle. That means staying to the right, riding with traffic, using signals to turn or stop, obeying traffic signs and signals and yielding to pedestrians.
Make sure bicycles are in good working order with proper safety equipment, including reflectors, a red taillight and, if you’re riding at a time when vehicles are required to use headlights, a functioning headlight. Bicyclists should make themselves as visible as possible — that means wearing hi-vis colors for your ride. Fortunately, day-glo green is coming back into style. Most importantly, make sure you’re wearing a good fitting helmet. Helmets are required in Kenai for youth cyclists under age 16, but they are a good idea for everyone.
It’s a great time to get out an enjoy the Kenai Peninsula, and two-wheeled transportation can enhance the experience. We wish everyone taking their bike out for a spin a happy and safe riding season.