Cycling Safely on the Roads This Summer

Safety experts say for motorists, it's about not driving distracted

FARGO, N.D. — Just like the roads cyclists ride on, their safety is a two–way street.

“As a bicyclist, you should be obeying the same rules and acting in the same predictable manner that motorists are in the roadways,” said Tom Smith, with the Great Northern Bicycle Company.

That includes obeying stop signs, traffic lights and using your arms as turn signals.

But of course if you plan to ride your bike this summer, you also can’t forget some vital equipment including reflective gear at night and a helmet at all times.

“You never know when you’re going to need that helmet. We’ve all gotten used to clicking ourselves into our cars, so that precaution is commonplace for us today and it was not a generation ago,” Smith said.

Bicyclists aren’t the only ones to take extra precautions; Smith says drivers need to remember to give cyclists on the road plenty of space.

“That’s space might seem like a lot when you’re driving your car but it might be (terrorizing because it’s so) close when you’re on a bicycle,” Smith said.

That type of bike–friendly community is exactly what many people tell transportation planners at the City of Fargo they’d like to see more of, and why the city is working to create more bike paths.

“Then it’s good for us to find a way for bikes to get across town and not have to look beyond those roads if there’s a path they can take, a lesser traveled road they can take where we could add some bike lanes or something like that,” said Dan Farnsworth, transportation planner at the Metro COG.

Some say they’ve even noticed that there have been less accidents because more people can ride their bikes in the metro.

“We find that the roads are quite safe, there are very few bicycle accidents. There have been plenty of studies that show as cycling increases, the accidents actually decrease,” Smith said. “This is mostly due to motorists becoming more familiar and more attentive of cyclists on the road.”

But distracted driving is something that’s still happening and why safety experts say to keep all eyes on the road.

“Always pay attention because you take your eyes off the road for a few seconds and anything can happen,” Farnsworth said.

Metro COG has started a bike safety campaign because the number one thing people wanted from them was to know the rules of the road for bicyclists.

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