Watch for bicyclists on the road

  • Thursday, April 7, 2016 3:42pm
  • Opinion

It’s a sure sign of spring — street sweepers have been at work around the central Kenai Peninsula, beginning the task of removing the winter’s accumulation of sand and gravel from roads, bike paths and sidewalks.

And with mild temperatures and sunny days, peninsula drivers already are sharing the roads with bicyclists and pedestrians.

For drivers, a quick reminder that road conditions may have improved, but that’s all the more reason to be extra attentive behind the wheel. With people out enjoying the bike paths, be sure to check both there and the roadway before pulling out into traffic.

If you encounter a bicyclist using the roadway, don’t panic. Remember, they have a right to be there, too. Treat the situation as you would any other encounter with a slower vehicle: approach with caution and pass when it is safe to do so.

Some reminders for those who are bicycling on peninsula roads: 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. Traffic laws are there to make things predictable for everyone on the road; when bicyclists do something drivers aren’t expecting, such as jumping from the sidewalk to the roadway and back, it creates a dangerous situation.

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.

Parents, make sure your kids know the rules of the road. Many elementary schools will go over bike safety later this spring, but a quick refresher is in order if your children are already out and about.

It’s a great time to get out and 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.

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