Bike Safety

To the Editor

            Bikes are tools for freedom and fun; They are not toys. Like downhill skis they are designed equipment for particular “courses.” They must be used responsibly or people get hurt. The Mattapoisett Rail Trail is a SHARED use path: Please be aware of the numerous pedestrians.

            I’m writing this out of a) the concerning anecdotes emerging from the pedestrian users on the recently opened bike path b) a profound sadness after learning about another tragic cyclist death: A 14 year old boy out with his friends at the end of a glorious spring day was buried last week after a collision with a car.

            In general cycling for sport and transport is safe because our caution leads us to protect ourselves with the right equipment and solid practice of the rules of the road. Regardless our caution, though, sometimes errors of judgement and conditions on the road are hurtful and even deadly. The rules exist to help avoid hurtful collisions. If we all behave responsibly, we minimize harm to ourselves and others.

            If you are an adult rider or a parent please make sure that you or your kids have skills, rules, judgment needed to use a bike. Including a helmet that is properly adjusted to protect their forehead. Take responsibility for your child’s knowledge of how to ride a bike. The freedom that comes with a bike can be intoxicating to kids and adults. But as with all freedom, bike riding comes with responsibilities to look out for yourself and others.

            The most important rules for everyone staying safe are those that help us avoid errors and minimize conflicts.

            1) Keep to the right on the roads and on the bike path. Do not ride against traffic. The drivers aren’t looking for you there. 2) Use a speed that is not alarming to the pedestrians around you. 3) Use your voice or a bell to warn pedestrians up ahead that you are going to pass them. Older walkers may not hear well from behind. 4) Stop at the stop signs and look for the driver who may not be looking for you. 5) Use lights at night, and please know a front headlight and a rear red light is the law for nighttime riding. The dark comes quickly after the sun goes down. Equip your bike properly to be seen. While you are at it dress to be seen. Visibility is critical.

            Finally, most of the roads leading to the bike path don’t have sidewalks. Drivers, give pedestrians and on-road riders a safe distance when passing. 4′ is the new law.

Bonne DeSousa, Mattapoisett

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