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Undaunted by snowy weather, Tom Leonard of Elgin rides his bike along Washington Avenue in La Grande Tuesday. Lt. Derick Reddington of the La Grande Police Department reminds bike riders that they must obey traffic laws like vehicles. (PHIL BULLOCK/The Observer)
Bicyclists must obey rules of the road just like vehicles
As the days get shorter, local law enforcement and bicycle enthusiasts are urging bicyclists to ride safely.
Lt. Derick Reddington of the La Grande Police Department says it’s important for bicyclists to wear bright colors and to have enough lighting for drivers to see them. He said the small blinking lights on bikes do not do the trick.
“Those things are sometimes difficult to see,” Reddington said.
Whit Hartz, owner of Mountain Works bike shop in La Grande, says bicyclists need a headlight and a tail light to be operating legally.
“Just having reflectors doesn’t make you legal,” Hartz said. “I don’t think people realize that.”
He has a light system that allows motorists to see his tail light from a mile away.
Reddington said it’s also important for riders to realize that they must obey traffic laws like vehicles.
“They have to obey the rules of the road just like you and I have to in our cars,” he said.
Although not all rules can be followed because they cannot be applied to bicycles, Reddington said riders should follow them to the best of their ability. That means stopping at stop signs, signaling for turns and not riding on the sidewalks downtown during business hours.
The most recent bicycle versus vehicle accident occurred at Island and Adams avenues. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the bicyclist was at fault for not stopping at for the light.
Reddington said he has also heard of bicyclists in town going through stop signs at intersections.
“We may have to ramp things up,” the lieutenant said.
Hartz said he most commonly sees bicyclists riding in the wrong lane.
“That’s probably the most annoying thing,” he says.
Hartz recommends cyclists ride as far to the right as they safely can.
“Just don’t go so close to parked cars that someone could open a door,” he said.
If people feel uncomfortable riding on Adams Avenue, Hartz suggests taking Washington or Jefferson.
Hartz, who says he rides “constantly” around La Grande, said overall drivers and bicyclists do a good job in La Grande, but everyone — children and adults — needs to do a better job of following the rules.
“It’s not just children. It’s adults, too,” he said.