By TIFFANY RONEY
The breeze, the freedom, the endorphins. The rules.
Many people enjoy cycling as a way to experience the outdoors while getting their exercise, but if they do not follow the rules of the road, they may not have a body with which to cycle.
Carol Russell, local cyclist, said she recently witnessed a child’s scrape with danger.
“I saw this little boy not riding his bike according to bicycle regulations in the state of Kansas,” Russell said. “If drivers weren’t paying attention, they could have hit him. I thought, ‘Oh, honey!’ He was going against the traffic.”
Russell said sightings like these show the value of reminding cyclists and motorists of the rules of the shared road.
Chris Cooper, Bike Across Kansas veteran, said he has had some close calls.
“On the trip, it wasn’t so bad because there were 800 bikers, so everybody knew we were out,” Cooper said. “But I bike on Old 40 and that’s tough where I live.”
Cooper said cycling alongside vehicles is sometimes a scary activity.
“Some people don’t want us on the roads,” Cooper said. “In Kansas, there is a 3-foot law, that it’s illegal to pass a biker within closer than 3 feet of the biker. The other side of that is, bikes are required to follow the laws of the road, too, and should stop at stop signs. But that 3-foot-rule, if everybody would do that, it would be nice.”
Cooper said the 3-foot rule is especially important for motorists to remember when passing cyclists.
“When they pass, they’re supposed to leave 3 feet and most people do,” Cooper said. “Ninety cars will pass you and two of them make you nervous. It’s just a few people. If people wouldn’t be in such a big hurry, it wouldn’t be a big deal.”
Abilene Police Officer Kris Kobiskie said he has seen most motorists observe cyclists respectfully. The issue he comes across more often is one of cyclists not following laws.
“Sometimes, bicyclists don’t necessarily think of themselves as a motor vehicle,” Kobiskie said. “Especially the younger ones, grade school on up. Even some adults don’t even know what they’re supposed to do.”
Kobiskie said cyclists need to follow the same traffic laws as vehicle drivers. One of the most commonly broken laws for bikers is one that is simple but can make a huge difference in regard to safety: stopping at stop signs.
“That’s probably the biggest one for the cyclists,” Kobiskie said.
To help Abilene cyclists and motorists grow in awareness of traffic laws, Kobiskie worked with Health & Wellness Coalition of Dickinson County to assemble a tri-fold brochure. To access a copy of the brochure, contact Katie Allen, chairperson of the coalition at 263-1550. Allen said the brochures will likely be available at the Abilene Public Library, 209 NW 4th St. and the Dickinson County Health Department, 1001 N Brady St., starting August 12.
Kobiskie said he wanted to encourage drivers to start looking out for students biking and walking the next couple of weeks, as Abilene schools start their semester on August 20.
“Kids are usually the best about knowing, if they’ve had education on the traffic laws and what they’re supposed to do,” Kobiskie said. “They’re usually the best people about obeying that, for the most part. They’re pretty good rule-followers, but just remind people to be on the lookout for them, because they don’t always remember to cross where there’s a crosswalk, or they might see a friend and want to zip across the road to walk with them. Just remind motorists to keep a watchful eye out for the kids as they head back to school.”