By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Bicyclists are being trained this week to teach other cyclists how to navigate the streets in Bowling Green. The goal is to show bicyclists and motorists how to share the roads.
“We want to build up the bike friendliness of the community,” said Steve Langendorfer, of the Bicycle Safety Commission.
So for three days this week, five people are being trained by Yay Bikes, a bicycle safety advocacy group.
Those local trainers will then help educate riders in the Bowling Green community about the proper way to bicycle city streets.
“It’s to help both bicyclists and motor vehicle operators understand that bicyclists are vehicles,” Langendorfer said. “They have the same rights and the same responsibilities.”
Ultimately, the goal is to make more Bowling Green residents feel safe riding city streets by teaching them the rules of the road.
“So people feel more comfortable as bicyclists – and debunk some of the myths,” Langendorfer said Wednesday as a team of riders were being trained.
One of the big myths is that bicyclists should hug the edge of the road. The actual rule is that cyclists should ride about three feet from the right edge of the roadway – just about where a vehicle’s passenger side tire travels.
Motor vehicles should give the cyclists another three feet of space as they pass.
Bicyclists should stop at “all the reds” – stop signs, red lights, Langendorfer said. And they should use hand signals.
While they have the same rights as motorists, “they also have the same responsibilities,” he added.
Midwestern drivers tend to be cordial to bicyclists, he said. If they lay on the horn in Bowling Green, it’s usually to cyclists, not at them.
“People in Bowling Green are very friendly,” Langendorfer said. “About the only time anyone honks is if they know you.”
“No motorist is trying to run people down,” he said.
But to make local residents more comfortable riding two-wheeled vehicles around town, the Bicycle Safety Commission and Yay Bikes program plan to host “slow rolls” for groups, “buddy rides” for people to ride together to work, family rides, and community rides for large groups on set times each week.
The commission plans to develop routes of various lengths for residents to ride. The hope is that by having regular rides in the city, the street culture will change and motorists will become more accustomed to sharing the road with bicyclists, he said.
Efforts will also be made to teach young riders, with the Parks and Recreation Department holding a bicycle camp for kids ages 6 to 10.
“Our goal is to improve the education.”
The bicycle safety efforts are being paid for with a $9,500 ODOT grant for educational events. Yay Bikes was hired to conduct the training.
The theory is that training a community of bicyclists and motorists who can coexist on the same roadways is much more affordable than expensive bike lanes.
Several events are planned in May to help promote bike safety, including a demonstration by Right Direction for third graders on May 15, the Ride of Silence on May 16 starting in City Park at 6:30 p.m., and the Ride to School and Work Day on May 18.