Record editorial: Drivers beware — bicyclists have returned to Summit County’s roads

A familiar spring sight has returned to Summit County in recent weeks as the snow melted from the sidewalks and roadways: bicyclists.

The reemergence of the two-wheeled travelers after a long winter means drivers need to pay close attention. Summit County’s roads belong to bicycles as much as vehicles, and bicyclists should be able to enjoy their preferred mode of transportation without the constant fear that an irresponsible driver will put them in harm’s way.

The need for drivers to recalibrate for the presence of bicyclists coincides with Friday’s annual Bike to School Day throughout Park City and the Snyderville Basin. The event, in which dozens of youngsters at the Park City School District’s four elementary schools will ride to class, serves as an appropriately timed reminder of what’s at stake when we ease into the driver’s seat during the warm months.

On the whole, Summit County has proven to be relatively safe for bicyclists, perhaps because of how many drivers are bicyclists themselves. But vehicle collisions with bicyclists do happen here, such as a 2017 accident in which a pickup truck hit a Parkite riding in a bike lane on Bonanza Drive. The bicyclist, a local triathlete, sustained life-threatening injuries but thankfully survived.

The potential for a similar — or worse — incident to occur is ever-present. According to state statistics, for instance, an average of five bicyclists are killed in crashes with vehicles each year in Utah, while 372 are injured.

The risk is heightened given the popularity of the county’s bike share system, which added hundreds of bicyclists to the road the last two years. And the number of riders is only likely to increase, as officials this spring bolstered the system with more than 10 additional docking stations and 60 e-bikes.

Bicyclists, of course, also shoulder significant responsibility for their own safety. First and foremost, that includes wearing the proper safety gear, obeying the rules of the road, using bike lanes, wearing bright colors in the dark and being vigilant about potential dangers.

If bicyclists do that, and drivers do their part, the result will be a safe summer on the roads, an outcome that would make a splendid season in Summit County even sweeter.

More information about bicycle safety for both riders and drivers is available at Information about Bike to School and Work Day can be found here. The event will include a bike safety demonstration from 1-3 p.m. at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School.

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