The Park Record editorial, April 29, 2009
April 28, 2009
Utah’s cycling season is off to a rocky start — and not just because of the weather. One cyclist has already died after being hit by a pickup truck.
That accident in Salt Lake City last week was a grim reminder of the dangers that local riders face on Summit County’s side streets and highways. Not long ago, a young woman who was riding with her fiancee in Kamas was killed by a careless driver. In another incident, a man was seriously injured by a woman who was talking on her cell phone as she plowed through the intersection at Quinn’s Junction.
But we would not presume to say the motorist is always at fault riders make mistakes too. In fact, tempers are still simmering over a confrontation between a truck driver and a group of cyclists last summer.
During a cycling event on the Mirror Lake Highway, a local driver swerved toward a group of riders. He claims he wanted to warn them not to block the road. They saw it as an assault, especially when the truck clipped one of the bikes, sending the rider to the pavement. The incident deteriorated, resulting in criminal charges, and this week the driver was sentenced to 30 days in jail along with some hefty fines.
Some say 30 days is not enough for someone who used his vehicle as a potentially deadly weapon. Others say the sentence is too punitive. We say let’s just make sure it doesn’t happen again.
The conflict between motorized and non-motorized modes of travel is long-standing. Ever since the first automobiles ran horse-drawn carriages off the road, it seems, drivers and riders have clashed.
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As sure as Summit County’s snowbanks begin receding in March, cyclists take their place on the gravelly shoulders. Two weeks ago, when the temperatures were unseasonably warm, riders were out in force some obviously a little wobbly after a long winter.
We hope that this summer both riders and drivers will abide by the rules of the road, with a little extra courtesy thrown in for good measure. That means that riders should thin out to single file, especially on the county’s narrow back roads where there is little margin for error; that drivers should obey the three-feet rule giving riders enough room to dodge glass and other obstacles; and that both should stay off their cell phones and keep both hands on their respective steering mechanisms.
Both Park City and Summit County are working to establish better, more interconnected biking and hiking trails. But until there is a bike lane on every highway, everyone must share the road.