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Mon, Aug. 19

Talk of the Town: Bicyclists have the right to follow the rules

Periodically bicyclists complain about motorists who don't give them room to ride, who honk at them to get out of their way, who generally don't grant them common courtesy and who just don't pay attention to them.

I can appreciate the irritation and the very real dangers of bicycling around Prescott. I ride, too. However, on behalf of motor vehicle drivers, I would ask the following:

• Obey the signs. A stop sign applies to bicyclists as much as it does to car drivers. So does a red light. And when the posted speed limit is 25 mph or 15 mph that means bicyclists, too.

• Signal. If you want to turn left or move into a left lane, stick out your left arm to indicate your desire to turn or move. Likewise, signal if you want to turn right or move into a right-hand lane. I can't read your mind, and neither can any other motorist.

• Move over. If you're riding so slowly that you're blocking or impeding traffic, move to the right to let the motor vehicles pass safely. And, if you have no room on the right to ride, then get off your bike and walk it.

• Ride in single file. If you're riding in one of those Lycra gangs or even just with a couple of friends, don't ride side by side. That blocks the lane in which you're riding, and it's hazardous to you and your companion(s). It's also illegal.

• Turn on your lights. If you're riding at night, turn on your bike's headlight and tail light. Don't have lights on your bike? Then don't ride at night - or dusk or dawn, for that matter.

• Avoid the main routes at high-traffic times. This is just common sense. Morning and evening commute hours are not the times for you to be tooling along, for example, Gurley, Sheldon, or Montezuma. Take your ride before the traffic hits or after it's passed, or find another route. Yes, that may be an inconvenience. But it's better than injury or death or causing either.

• Pay attention. Any motorcyclist will tell you that to survive riding you have to be super-diligent and ever on the defensive, that car and truck drivers often can't see you, and that there are some motorists who just don't care (or worse, who actually try to hit you).

The roads are for all to use and enjoy. However, before you complain about how motorists treat you when you ride your bicycle, consider how you follow the rules of the road and the implicit and expressed rules of safe bicycling. You may be right in your demands for street access and utilization.

But your adamancy when riding can leave you right and dead.

(Michael C. Westlund has lived in Prescott for three years and is a self-employed consultant.)

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