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Bike symbols establish precaution on roadways

On October 20, 2010

As the result of a city-wide project, the last sharrows of a designated bike route were painted on 700 North, which Logan City Council approved in order to further safety precautions for vehicles and bicyclists alike.

Sharrows are bike-shaped symbols painted on the right side of roadways and are meant to alert` vehicles that bicyclists are permitted to share the lane. Approximately a dozen have been painted on 700 North and 1200 East. In addition to adding more sharrows alongside roads, the Linkage Subcommittee is working to link USU's campus to the downtown Logan area, said Paul Rogers, a regular bicycle commuter and head of the sub-committee. He said all of the precautions that have been taken and are currently in process are to encourage more members of the community to use a more healthy and eco-friendly way of travel.

Utah state law under Section 4 of Operation of Bicycles and Mopeds on Roadways states, "If the right-hand lane is wide enough to be safely shared with overtaking vehicles, a person operating a bicycle or moped shall ride far enough to the right as reasonably determined safe by the operator to facilitate the movement of an overtaking vehicle."

However, according to state law, if a street is not wide enough for a bicyclist to ride with vehicle traffic safely, they will not be permitted to use the road.

Chair of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee Jaynan Chancellor said drivers aren't usually aware of bicyclists and there are a lot of accidents that are barely avoided, especially when bicyclists use crosswalks.

"Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of motor vehicles," Chancellor said. "Sharrows show bicyclists where to ride safely, and they show drivers where they can expect to see cyclists."

Rogers said he believes the problems between drivers and bicyclists travelling alongside each other is that neither is aware that they need to be mindful of the other. Drivers need to treat bicyclists as vehicles, he said.

"If there is only a single lane, a bicyclist is allowed to get as far into the road as necessary as long and they are not blocking this road," Rogers said.

There are three ways that bicyclists make roads unsafe, which are: riding on the wrong side of the road, sidewalk riding and gutter riding, said Bob Bayn, bicycle safety advocate and employee of USU's Information Technology unit. He said he hopes these things will happen less often now that the sharrows are painted.

Bayn said he would like to see further precautions taken in the future, such as better bicycle education throughout campus bicycle riders.

"So many bike riders on campus act like their only bike safety education was back when they were eight and their mom said ‘watch out for cars,'" Bayn said. "Now that they are grown up, their interaction with traffic can be more nuanced and get a better safety result."

Also, smoothly constructed sidewalks and roads will help limit the amount of accidents bicyclists have, which Bayn said he hopes will be perfected in the future.

As a result of all these precautions, and plans to link USU's campus to commercial Logan through sharrows and bike lanes, Rogers said he hopes more people will be prompted to drive less. He said so far, students' response to the bicycle movement has been positive and on campus "a lot of new bike racks have been put up that are always filled."

"We just want bicyclists to know there is a legally defined space for them and they are allowed to that area of the road," Rogers said.


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