Saturday, July 26, 2014

Bicycle safety campaign kicks off in Utah

By Jasen Lee, Deseret News

Published: Mon, May 12 4:05 p.m. MDT

 Riders arrive for the Road Respect Tour kickoff at the Capitol in Salt Lake City, Monday, May 12, 2014. Road Respect educates both motorists and cyclists about rules of the road, encourages compliance, and facilitates respect among all roadway users.

Riders arrive for the Road Respect Tour kickoff at the Capitol in Salt Lake City, Monday, May 12, 2014. Road Respect educates both motorists and cyclists about rules of the road, encourages compliance, and facilitates respect among all roadway users.

(Ravell Call, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Six bicyclists are killed and nearly 850 are involved in crashes with motor vehicles in an average year in Utah.

In response, the state is relaunching a grass-roots safety campaign to reduce the number of cyclists injured on Utah roadways.

The Road Respect campaign aims to educate drivers and cyclists about the rules of the road and encourage mutual respect so everyone gets home safely, said Utah Highway Patrol Col. Danny Fuhr.

Speaking at a news conference Monday at the state Capitol, Fuhr recalled when he was struck by a car in Davis County as he pedaled down a road in Syracuse.

"A car turned left in front of me and hit me head-on," he explained. "I bounced up over the windshield and almost ended up underneath the car."

Fuhr sustained minor injuries to his hip, elbow and shoulder but otherwise avoided serious harm.

"I was very, very lucky," he said. "When cars and bikes collide, the outcome is usually pretty tragic."

Distracted driving was likely the cause of his collision, Fuhr said, and, too often, it's the reason for crashes involving bicycles and vehicles.

"Too many people are worried about too many things inside of their cars rather than just driving," he said. "When you're driving a car next to a cyclist trying to share the road, you can't have any distractions."

Any sudden swerve or encroachment could result in a tragedy, Fuhr added.

"If you can imagine a car hitting a pedestrian or cyclist, the results will never be good for the person who was hit," he said.

State law requires vehicles to give cyclists a 3-foot buffer, Fuhr said, and bicycles should stay to the right and avoid veering into traffic if possible.

Bicycle advocates say raising awareness could help save lives and remind anyone who uses the roads — including runners, cyclists and motorists — that respecting each other's rights of way is the key to improving safety.

"We really want drivers and cyclists to share the road … and people to ride safely and drive safely," said Phil Sarnoff, executive director of Bike Utah.

Email: jlee@deseretnews.com

Twitter: JasenLee1

Related Stories
Recommended
1. West Coast1
Secane, PA,
May 13, 2014

I was hit in 2011 while traveling in a designated bike lane. My crash was similar to the one in the story as a car turned left into me. I went over the hood and onto the pavement.

One problem is that cars underestimate the speed of bicycles. Sometimes they are going about the speed limit. Car drivers also need to be patient. Adding 15 seconds to your commute in order to make the road a safer place is a good decision.

2. NeilT
Clearfield, UT,
May 13, 2014

I was stopped to make a right turn. Traffic cleared and as I started to turn I saw a cyclist from my right riding into traffic. It was a near miss. It works both ways. I routinely see cyclists run stop signs, red lights, ride double impeding traffic, and ride at night with no lights, wearing dark clothes. Many cyclists don't realize that they are subject to the same rules of the road as motor vehicles. I suspect there are some that don't care, they do what they can get away with.

3. Esquire
Springville, UT,
May 13, 2014

NeilT, while I appreciate your perspective and there is merit to what you say, and there are cyclists who flaunt the law, it should be remembered that some of the laws and the infrastructure work against cyclists. For example, if I approach a traffic signal that has a sensor embedded in the road, nothing I can do will trigger it. This forces me to wait until a car eventually comes to the intersection (and sometimes I have to hustle to even get through some lights because sensors react to autos only), or I can proceed illegally through the light (and wisdom would dictate I stop or nearly stop). These kinds of problems are pervasive, and cyclists have to deal with them, which in turn leads many to escalate the apparent lawlessness. I would like to see better infrastructure, a close review of applicable laws from a cycling perspective, cycling related topics included as part of drivers education and testing, and cycling skills and knowledge education for those who ride. In the end, all of us need to be more careful and attentive.