By Terry Clark, Salida Police Chief
Greetings from the Salida Police Department. I hope everyone is enjoying this summer-like weather we have had lately. I have been, but I am concerned about the overly dry conditions coming into the summer months. Given the weather conditions most of the winter, I have seen a lot of the bicycling community out and about. I’m going to address bicycle safety. I wanted to dedicate my article to this topic because I am concerned for the safety of all of people who use public roads for transportation.
People riding bicycles on public roadways must follow the same traffic laws as other vehicle traffic, and likewise, vehicle drivers must respect the rights of cyclists. Cyclists should ride on the road – not shoulders or sidewalks – and travel in the same direction as traffic to maintain safe traffic flow. The exception to the sidewalk rule would be in the case of young children learning to ride.
Vehicle operators who leave a 3-foot distance when passing bicycles minimize chances of collisions. Vehicle operators and cyclists must yield the right of way to each other when warranted, and bicyclists must obey the same traffic signals as drivers. Just as vehicles use headlights at night so too should cyclists use front and rear safety lights to help see and be seen. Cyclists also should use proper hand signals to announce turns to drivers and other cyclists behind them, just as drivers must signal turns and lane changes.
A few of the violations I see with the cyclists that give me great concern is blowing right though stop sign intersections, riding on the wrong side of the street, and riding after dark without the proper lighting and reflectors. To me, this just does not make sense. A vehicle weighs 2,000 pounds easily versus a bike and rider at 200 pounds – you do the math.
I believe Salida is a great community for all types of recreation and a great place to use bicycles as transportation. If safety is first and foremost, I know there is room for all types of vehicles on our roadways. We have a good amount of safety-minded bicyclists in our community, and I would ask them to help us in this safety project. If you see someone who might need encouraging on following the rules of the roads, I would appreciate the help.
The police department monitors and, in some cases, issues citations to vehicles that misuse or violate the rules of the road. After a lot of thought and conversations with the City Council and citizens, I believe we need to treat bicycles in the same manner we do vehicles as far as rules of the road are concerned.
So like the drivers of vehicles, as a bicyclist you may receive a citation/warning for violations of the rules of the road. Our department has a small unit of officers who you will see on bikes this summer and while patrolling they will be helping out with our safety project concerning Bicycle Safety.
I want to wish everyone a safe and happy summer season as we all enjoy this part of the year. With the many events and activities Salida will be busier than ever.
I thank you for your cooperation in this project and if you have any questions or comments, please contact me at 539-6880 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org/