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riding a bicycle

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The warm weather is here and that means more people are walking outside while others are taking to the streets on their bikes.

In some recreational areas, including several in our own backyards, walkers and bicyclists share the same paths. Sometimes the mixture can be a recipe for disaster.

Unfortunately, many on bikes pedaling at high speeds seem to be more concerned about quickly getting somewhere than about taking proper precautions to ensure pedestrian safety. Electric bikes have only compounded these issues.

It’s not uncommon to hear of someone taking a leisurely stroll and then being hit by a bike, thrown to the ground and ending up needing medical assistance. One walker on Trustees Road at West Meadow Beach recently needed stitches after being hit by a bike.

When sharing the road with cars, bikers know to stay to the right, ride in the same direction of traffic, be no more than two abreast and transition to single file when a car is passing. However, many seem to forget there are rules to follow when on a path without cars.

A general rule of thumb is for bikers to keep to the right. When this isn’t possible, if a person on a bike sees people walking ahead, especially if their back is turned to them, it’s common courtesy to not only slow down but also to say “on your right” or “passing on your left.” A better solution is to have a bell on the bike so you can alert people when you are coming down the path. 

Bicyclists should also avoid riding on sidewalks. One reason is that drivers aren’t expecting a person on a bike to be on the sidewalk, and sometimes can be caught off guard when someone comes pedaling onto the road.

Taking care when on wheels doesn’t stop with bicycles, as skateboarders should also use caution when sharing space with pedestrians.

Most importantly, bikers should take advantage of the designated bike paths that are opening up throughout the county. These paths provide bikers the necessary space to pursue their pastime in peace and comfort, reducing the risk of a critical biking accident on our roads. 

No one should come home injured due to the carelessness of another. Elected officials should continue working to ensure shared recreational areas are safe by adding bicycle paths to keep bikers to the right or adding speed bumps to slow down those on wheels.

Warm weather may be perfect for getting outside and having some fun, but the fun ends when someone gets hurt. Just a little bit of care and remembering public paths are meant to share can make for a better and safer day for everyone just trying to enjoy some recreational time.

And bikers, before you head for the road, don’t forget to put on your helmet!