Chances are, you have probably heard the phrase “Share the Road”. This is a campaign known for their efforts to educate motorists on how to safely operate alongside bicyclists on the street. This is likely to remain important as the number of people using bikes will almost certainly continue to rise rather than decline.
Southern Indiana provides some of the best scenery in the state and many people in our area take advantage of that either on foot or on bike. One of our biggest attractions in Warrick County is the Blue Grass Fish and Wildlife Area. Like many, I take advantage of this beautiful backdrop and walk these roads daily- usually around 3 to 5 miles a day.
In a tragic accident earlier this month, a gentleman riding his bike in nearby Vanderburgh County lost his life after being struck by a car. Unfortunately, he had run a stop sign. This was devastating to the driver and the community. Thoughtful words of support began to pour in for everyone involved. These, however, are the types of accidents that we can and must work to prevent.
While on my daily walks, I have witnessed first-hand some of the problems we are currently facing between cars on the road and people riding bikes, walking or jogging on those same roads. I have noticed that while state law permits bicyclists to use most roads, they do not always comply with traffic laws. This includes things such as stopping at stop signs and looking both ways as well as occupying the correct side of the road.
Bicycles are considered vehicles and while motorists must be cautious of them, the same laws still apply to bicyclists as apply to cars. Thus, bikers should be moving in the same direction as traffic and adhere to any and all traffic laws. On the other hand, walkers and joggers are not vehicles. Therefore, those of us who prefer to walk or run are supposed to move against traffic so that they can always see what is coming towards them.
I wanted to raise awareness about this issue, not because I want to get bicyclists off of our roads, but because I am currently in the beginning stages of working with Warrick County Officials and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to get a grant which would provide for a bike and running lane on some of our county roads.
Nearby Vanderburgh County is already home to the Pigeon Creek Greenway Passage, a planned walking, jogging and biking trail along the Pigeon Creek and Ohio Riverfront that will connect to Angel Mounds and the Newburgh Riverfront. I believe that a similar trail in northern Warrick County would be a great addition to our community as well as an added layer of safety for everyone. It will likely take time to come to fruition; however, ultimately, I would love for this trail to connect to the Vanderburgh County Greenway.
For years, there has been a great deal of emphasis placed on teaching drivers how to be on the lookout for bicyclists but I feel it is equally important that we help and encourage bicyclists to also be on the lookout for motorists and obey the rules of the road. In order to achieve the highest level of safety on our roads, everyone needs to be educated on this issue. Sharing the road is a two-way street and with a bit of heightened awareness by everyone on the roads, we just might save a life.