BIKE PRESCOTT: What’s with all the Spandex?
Think you’re seeing double? It seems that motorists are encountering more bicycles on the roads these days. That’s because there are more cyclists in our area – and more motorists.
The trend shows no sign of slowing either locally or nationally. Bike Prescott reports a more than 100 percent increase in membership since 2013. That’s more than twice the number of spandex-clad folks riding our roadways, using roads to get to our growing trail system, or just using two wheels as primary transportation.
We’re all drawn here for the same reasons. We have beautiful surroundings, a thriving downtown, lively social scene, and moderate weather that allows for an abundance of year-round outdoor pursuits. Some newcomers were attracted specifically by our active cycling community. All this extra traffic creates challenges for motorists and cyclists alike. We share the same roads, but recently not so well.
In the past few months, four cyclists have been struck by motorists in Prescott. One was a 9-year old child. Fortunately, none of these accidents were fatal. Others haven’t been so lucky. Prescott College student Amber Harrington and Community Volunteer Valerie Creek were killed by motorists while riding their bicycles on public roads. The City of Prescott has established a Bicycle/Pedestrian/Traffic Advisory Committee (PBTAC) to focus on this but it will take time to implement common safety features such as signage, bike lanes and dedicated bike paths.
All of this suggests that the timing is perfect for The Daily Courier and Bike Prescott to partner on a series of articles to highlight what all of us can do to minimize risks. This includes recommendations for cyclists about how to avoid conflicts with vehicles, information to help motorists be more aware of how we all can peacefully co-exist, and how courtesy goes a long way for everyone.
If you drive our roads, you’ll likely see a Bike Prescott rider. Their official jerseys are “safety orange” and the club is committed to safety for everyone who uses public roadways. They’ve implemented guidelines to promote safe riding skills for cyclists and raise awareness of riders’ responsibility to be visible and predictable, and to improve road-sharing. So why are they on the road and not the trails where they are less likely to encounter motorists? We’ll write about this in future articles along with other subjects to help educate both cyclists and motorists.
We’ll also include suggestions for parents with each article. Children are at greater risk on our roadways today and just riding a bike to school is more dangerous than when we were growing up. We’ll include ideas to help parents discuss safety with children and suggestions about how to engage them in thinking about safety, while on the bike or as passengers in cars around town.
We hope to hear from local motorists with interviews by our “man/woman on the street” and we’ll be watching for feedback in letters to the editor and at www.bikeprescott.org. So, stay tuned! We might even learn why those crazy bikers wear spandex!