LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Bicyclists can make travel safer

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The City Council has proclaimed the month of May as "Bike Safety Month." This makes sense, since May is such a beautiful month to ride.

Bicycles are required by law to operate obeying the laws of the road and not the sidewalk. So how is the bike going to operate safely? The bike is very light, small, hard to see and has no airbag or safety belt.

Several operating principles apply. The first is to be consistent, do not weave in and around parked cars or other objects.

Ride on the right side of the road, this seems obvious, but can you imagine a motorist seeing a car coming and a bike in the left lane riding down the wrong side!

With the car that is approaching, what is the motorist to do? He has a vehicle coming at him on one side and a bicyclist coming at him on the other side with parked cars to the side of the road.

Options would be to hit the oncoming car or hit the bicyclist, or stop and incur a rear-end collision from a vehicle from behind. Obviously there is a lot of unnecessary dilemma.

A bicyclist should not jump from road to sidewalk and back to the road to avoid anything. A motorist can't be expected to read your mind. Stay in your correct lane and act like a car.

When riding down a street you should expect a car to open a door or back out from a parking space or drive, remember you are small and many times not a visible vehicle.

Why not ride the sidewalk? Because pedestrians are at risk of being injured by bikes on the narrow walkway.

Another very important thing to remember is never put yourself at risk to accommodate a car.

For example: riding so close to the side of the road that you could hit the gravel and fall, thus potentially putting your self at greater risk of an injury.

You should be respectful but not subservient to cars, in the final analysis you will be judged as a car.

Let your butt do the talking, that is what the car sees.

Let's all ride to work and play safely in the month of May! Happy Trails!

Bill Schwerin

Walla Walla

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