The Park Record editorial, September 2, 2009
September 1, 2009
We had planned to write an editorial congratulating the community on an extraordinarily safe cycling season. After several years marked by serious bike-versus-car accidents, it was a pleasure not to report on that battlefront this summer. But our smug sense of pride was shattered by last week’s fatal cycling accident on Deer Valley Drive.
While riding home from Main Street, David George, a local bellman, crashed. A roommate who was riding in front of George did not see the accident but police say they are certain it was not caused by a vehicle.
Perhaps George hit an obstacle on the pavement or suffered from a sudden medical problem or, maybe, for just a split second, he was distracted. His friends and family may never know exactly what caused his death. The tragedy is a grim reminder of how dangerous cycling can be.
The sport, though, is continuing to grow in Park City and throughout the county. It has become a vital part of the town’s summer economy and also fits in well with the community’s emphasis on non-polluting forms of transportation and recreation.
And lately, both riders and drivers have made significant strides toward peacefully coexisting on the road. In general, riders have been more vigilant about following traffic laws and drivers have been more considerate about passing cyclists on many of the county’s narrow, shoulder-less byways.
Part of the credit for the near-perfect record this summer should go to the Mountain Trails Foundation, which has promoted the ‘Share the Road’ program. Other groups like UDOT, Park City Municipal and Summit County have also worked to make travelers more aware of their responsibilities.
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The nascent truce between cyclists and drivers is reminiscent of when Nordic skiers and snowmobilers finally realized that neither was going away and the backcountry experiences would be more pleasant the sooner they started respecting one another. The same seems to be taking place on both sides of that narrow white line on the highway.
But there is more work to be done. It is unfair to assert that George would have survived if he had been wearing a helmet. But, certainly his chances would have been much better. While most bike racers don their helmets out of habit, recreational riders and casual commuters are much less likely to suit up for a possible crash.
This year’s Park City Leadership class hopes to change that. As part of their end-of-year project, they are hosting a helmet safety fair at the People’s Health Clinic (now located at The Yard on Kearns Boulevard) on Wednesday, Sept. 2 from 5 to 7 p.m. Helmet fitting tips will be offered in English and Spanish and some helmets will be available for sale at a discounted rate.
There is still a month or two of riding left before winter and The Record is hoping they are fun, safe and not newsworthy