Share the Road signs making Bay's streets safer
You may have noticed the yellow Share the Road bicycle signs popping up like spring daffodils around Bay Village. By the end of the month, there should be a combined total of 42 on Lake, Wolf, Dover, Bradley, Walker, Basset, Cahoon, Columbia and Clague roads. The project was a joint effort of the Bay Village Green Team, the Bay Skate and Bike Park Foundation, the Bike to School Challenge, the Village Bicycle Cooperative, the City of Bay Village and private donors. The signs were paid for through private funds, not city funds. Their installation this month is in conjunction with National Bike Month and National Bike to Work Day (Friday, May 18).
Why are the signs being added?
The signs, a national standard approved by they Federal Highway Administration, are being added to increase safety for both bicycles and automobiles. No laws have been changed. The signs are simply stating existing state law.
Making our city and our region more bike friendly by improving safety makes it a more attractive place to live. Thriving cities across the country are improving bikability and walkability in order to attract more residents. Statistics show that doing so is good for local property values as well as local businesses.
Is biking in the street legal?
Yes, in the state of Ohio, and in most states, bicycles are considered legitimate vehicles with the same rights to the road as cars. Bicycles can ride on roads as long as they are not freeways containing overpasses. Drivers of automobiles may pass bicycles just as they would pass any other slow moving vehicle such as a tractor, Amish buggy, delivery truck, etc. Drivers should leave a minimum of three feet between their cars and a bike when passing.
What are the key rules for biking on the road?
Bicyclists must follow all the same rules that one would follow in a car. You must ride with traffic, NOT against it. Stop signs, stop lights, yield signs and turn signals must be obeyed. You cannot pass on the right.
Bikers must also ride to the right in most situations, unless making a left-hand turn or riding at the same speed as traffic. Do not, however, ride so far to the right that you put yourself in danger of hitting the curb if you have to avoid an object on the road. It is best to ride where the right tire of a car would normally be on the road. This encourages drivers to safely pass you and gives you room to safely avoid objects and potholes in the road. The added safety comes from the fact that riding in this zone allows the biker to swerve right to avoid hazards instead of swerving left into passing traffic. Riding too close to the curb encourages passing drivers to "squeeze" by you. This creates a dangerous situation for everyone and prevents you from being able to avoid road hazards.
For riding after dark, you must have a white front headlight and a red tail light. Make sure that it is bright enough to be seen by cars in poor visibility situations like rain and fog. You may even wish to purchase lights that are bright enough to be used during the day. Good LED bike lights can be purchased at a local bike shop for under $30 and can last all season on one set of batteries.
Bright reflective clothing and a helmet are also recommended for obvious safety reasons. They key is to be seen by others so that they do not accidentally hit you!
Why not just ride on the sidewalk?
Sidewalk biking is okay for slower, casual riding, but becomes dangerous to the biker, to walkers, and to cars backing out of driveways when going at faster speeds. Bicycles can easily travel at speeds of 20-30 mph on flat surfaces and faster going down hills. Additionally, bumps and curbs on sidewalks will damage road bikes, which are designed to be ridden on a smoother surface. When commuting to work or running errands, road biking is much more efficient and safer.
What are the benefits of bicycling?
Biking is not only for recreation. It can also be a mode of transportation that can replace your car for many local errands and commuting to work. Doing so will decrease your transportation costs by reducing your consumption of gasoline and reducing vehicle maintenance. Furthermore, substituting a car with a bicycle will reduce pollutants within our own city and can improve your health by the additional exercise that you obtain through the activity. Exercise has been shown to help maintain a healthy body weight, reduce stress, reduce depression, and increase your feeling of well-being. The improved health may help keep you out of the doctor's office, thereby saving you from expensive medical bills. With so many positive benefits, why not commit to replacing at least one car trip a week with a bicycle trip?
What else should I know?
Do a safety check on your bike before each ride and check your tire pressure every two weeks. Proper inflation of your tires will result in a much more efficient ride.
Where can I find more information?
Get a free county bike map and comprehensive bike law pamphlet by contacting the Bay Village Green Team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn about local community rides, basic bike maintenance classes and more at www.villagebicyCLE.org. Regional community rides can be viewed on Bike Cleveland's calendar at www.bikecleveland.org.
Pat McGannon is a Bay Village Green Team member and a Village Bicycle volunteer who has lived in Bay Village for most of the past 32 years.