July 16 editorial | ParkRecord.com

July 16 editorial

Incidents between vehicles, bicycles are down; let's make it a trend

The media are always taking the rap for reporting nothing but bad news. Well — mark this on your calendar — here’s a piece of good news: As we head into the last half of the summer, The Park Record hasn’t had to report a serious incident involving a cyclist and a motor vehicle.

Is it just luck? We’d like to think otherwise. We’d like to think that the "Share The Road" campaign is working, that drivers are being more vigilant of cyclists and that cyclists are being more conscious of their responsibilities.

So let’s give everyone credit for the good news.

the same token, six months is hardly a long-term trend.

According to the Utah Department of Health, more than 8,700 bicyclists were hit by motor vehicles and 63 cyclists died in the 10-year period ending in 2004. More than 40 percent of those incidents involved children 14 and younger. During that period, Utah had the 11th highest bicycle fatality rate in the country. If you happen to know one of the people involved, those are not just statistics.

We don’t have the numbers to prove it, but there seem to be more bicycles on the road than ever. Thanks to high gasoline prices, more people appear to be blowing the dust off their old ten-speeds and using them for basic transportation. If that’s the case, and that trend continues, interaction between vehicles and bicycles is bound to become more frequent.

So how can we make bicycle safety a higher priority? Here are a few suggestions

To local governments: We have a marvelous system of bike paths in Summit County. But bike paths won’t always take you to the supermarket. Local municipalities need to place a higher priority on creating dedicated bike lanes on existing streets and roads.

To motorists: Treat bicycles the way you would motor vehicles. Give them plenty of room (state law requires a minimum of three feet), especially if you have wide vehicle and/or protruding mirrors. Do not drive or park in bike lanes.

To cyclists: Wear bright clothing and equip your bicycle with lights and reflectors. Ride predictably, obeying all traffic rules, and using hand signals to communicate your intentions.

According to the Utah Department of Health, Summit County had the 11th lowest crash rate (among Utah’s 29 counties) involving bicycles and motor vehicles between 1995 and 2004. That means there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

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