BICYCLISTS MUST RIDE WITH FLOW OF TRAFFIC

July 07, 2002 11:00 pm

A couple of narrow misses prompt a revisit to the issue of bicycle safety. No, the issue is not wearing bicycle helmets. Young people's compliance with that rule seems to be fairly good, and compliments to them on being conscientious and protecting their noggins. More adult bicycle riders should follow suit.

THE ISSUE is what side of the road is correct for bicyclists. A recent spate of incidents involving groups of bicyclists riding on both sides of the road going the same direction in various local communities prompts concern. If rules of the road aren't taught, someone is going to get killed or seriously injured. A car driver should not be forced to thread this potentially deadly gauntlet. Honking a horn could cause a bicyclist to swerve unintentionally into the path of the car.

A reminder: bicyclists are to ride with traffic; that means on the right side of the road — with, not against, traffic. And yes, stop signs and traffic lights mean the same for bicyclists as they do for motor vehicles. Stop.

Another reminder: cars weigh a ton or two. Bicycles weigh about 20 pounds. Who wins in a crash? The answer: nobody.

AUTOMOBILE DRIVERS need to be on the lookout for bicycle riders, adult and kid, especially now that summer vacation is in full force. Drive defensively. Expect bicyclists to do the wrong thing, just as you would another driver, and be ready to give bicyclists a brake. If you are driving in the vicinity of bicyclists, slow down. Pull well out into the other lane to pass.

This is not to put down self-propelled sports. Bicycling is a great activity and not only for kids. It is environmentally healthy, quiet and good for the body — and the soul. More people should bicycle more often.

Let's be clear: Most car drivers aren't out to ruin the day for bicyclists. But bicyclists also need to show respect for drivers by following the rules of the road, signaling intentions at stop signs and so on. If everybody follows the rules of the road, we all win and nobody gets hurt.

NOT ONLY JULY 4TH

The issue of La Grande's fireworks show being held on Friday, July 5, caused quite a stir in the county. It's true that many people hold July 4th sacred for such celebrations. And the Fireworks Action Committee, which plans and raises funds for the show, is promising that the event will be held on the Fourth of July in both 2003 and 2004.

The hundreds of people who came out Friday evening discovered that America can be celebrated most evenings of the year with success. Citizens should pause to enjoy their freedoms just about any time they think about it.